Israel has temporarily suspended medical cannabis exports. According to Haaretz, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu was responsible for the suspension and has ordered a review from both the Health Ministry and the chairman of the National Economic Council.
Israel initially commenced medical cannabis exports in 2017, following a recommendation from a joint committee of the health and finance ministries, which found that Israel could stand to take in as much as ₪4 billion, or $1.1 billion, annually from the policy.
NEC Chairman Avi Simhon has been asked to conduct an economic feasibility study on the policy while the Health Ministry has been asked to conduct its own separate review. The decision to suspend the policy came after Netanyahu met with Finance Minister Moshe Kahlon and Public Security Minister Gilad Erdan.
Officials from the Pubic Security Ministry presented the prime minister with new data regarding the diversion of medical cannabis into the recreational market, leading Erdan, who has opposed the export of medical cannabis, to renew his opposition to the export policy.
Speaking with Haaretz, Hagit Weinstock, a lawyer representing marijuana farmers and investors in the country, criticized Netanyahu’s decision to halt the export of medical cannabis.
“The Israeli prime minister passed up today on four billion shekels a year that could improve the lives of Israeli citizens, [that could ease] the struggle of the disabled, the burden on the hospitals and the farmers’ distress,” Weinstock said. “The ministers are busy scaring the prime minister that the streets of Israel will be covered with marijuana, detached from the reality in which we live where tens of thousands of people smoke and consume marijuana without interruption.”