In a move that could launch a major new export industry for Israel, the cabinet is expected to approve Sunday a long-awaited law to allow exports of medical marijuana, the Finance Ministry said Wednesday.
The ministry said the bill would allow companies licensed by the Health Ministry to export medical cannabis products to countries that permit their use.
“The law is expected to open a new market for Israeli producers, which is expected to increase investment in the areas of agriculture, research and production and to create new jobs,” the ministry said.
The Finance Ministry has estimated the export potential of marijuana-based medical products at up to 4 billion shekels ($1.1 billion) shekels a year, adding that it could generate jobs for growers and for entrepreneurs in medical and agricultural research.
The world market for medical marijuana was $11.4 billion in 2015. Bank of America predicted it could exceed $20 billion by 2020. Enjoying a favorable climate and expertise in medical and agricultural technologies, Israel has a competitive advantage in the growing market.
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News that exports would be finally cleared, after a long delay over keeping medical marijuana from reaching the illegal street market, sent shares of medical-cannabis stocks soaring on the Tel Aviv Stock Exchange.
Highly speculative and subject to sharp changes in their share price, four publicly traded medical-cannabis companies posted double-digit gains: InterCure rose 17.4% to 7.15 shekels, Together rose 27.3% to 5.88, Amir Marketing 12.5% to 31.78 and CannAssure 11.9% to 2.55.
Eight companies grow marijuana in Israel. Several have opened farms abroad to get an early start in the overseas market as export approvals from Israel had been deadlocked for so long.
Dozens of business owners have requested government authorization to export and others have recruited high-profile names: Ex-Israel Air Force chief Ido Nechustan was named chairman of CannAssure this month; former Prime Minister Ehud Barak heads InterCure.
The last stumbling block to exports was removed at the end of December, when the Knesset approved legislation granting police wider enforcement powers, thereby removing opposition to exports by Public Security Minister Gilad Erdan. The police may now monitor marijuana farms and grant approvals for growing and exporting cannabis and cannabis products.