Import Dependent Israel 'Stuck' On Cannabis Exports

With over 6-metric tons of 'strong' cannabis flower imported into the country by July 2020 – Israel is now the largest importer of medical marijuana in the world – despite homegrown options available.

Stealing the top spot from the Germans in just six months, recently compiled data by Tel Aviv-based Cannabis Magazine and Marijuana Business Daily revealed Israel doubled its cannabis imports since May.

Israel increased its cannabis imports from 3 tons in May, to 4 tons in early June, and most recently, up to 6 tons in July. An ever-growing number thanks to a "severe shortage of 'strong' varieties and products".

While imported cannabis products continue to be top-sellers in the Israeli market, local varieties still make up a majority of the list.

According to Cannabis Magazine editor, Oren Lebovitch, "ongoing import agreements suggest that even more will be imported in the second half of the year".

This increasing demand for "'strong' varieties and products" is hurting local cannabis producers, especially new farms.

Current legalisation efforts, however, may pave the way for "the establishment of cannabis retail outlets in Israel," with industry sources claiming that imports will only decrease when Israeli companies manage to reach the THC levels required by customers.

"It is quite possible that in the future they will impose a limit on the amount of cannabis that can be imported from abroad, in order to maintain the local industry, but the anaesthetic has already come out of the bag," added the source.

"Patients have been exposed to goods from Europe, Canada, etc., at a very high-quality level, and will not want to settle for less."

"Israeli growers must meet the standard in order to make a profit."

Medicinal cannabis has been permitted in Israel since the 1990s, with a dedicated budget of roughly US$2.3 million. Despite advancing reforms in the domestic cannabis market, the director-general of the Ministry of Health announced Israel would not allow exports without regulation.

On 24 June, the parliament of Israel approved the preliminary reading of two bills that aim to decriminalise and fully legalise the recreational use of cannabis and its supply chain.

With MJBizDaily defining both Israel and Germany as the only markets outside of North America which can sell more than "a metric ton of high-THC flower," both countries may be on the verge of world cannabis domination.

However, until local export regulations are implemented, both will remain import-dependent.

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Elliot Nash
Elliot Nash

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