Israel Moves to Decriminalize CBD, Active Cannabis Ingredient, but Only in Two Years

CBD will no longer be considered a dangerous drug, and will be authorized for medical, food, and cosmetic products,

Ido Efrati
Ido Efrati
File photo: Cannabidiol (CBD) oil bottles pictured at the Cannabis Business Europe congress in Frankfurt.
File photo: Cannabidiol (CBD) oil bottles pictured at the Cannabis Business Europe congress in Frankfurt. Credit: RALPH ORLOWSKI/ REUTERS
Ido Efrati
Ido Efrati

The Health Ministry has begun the process of exempting CBD, or cannabidiol, one of the active ingredients in cannabis, from its list of dangerous drugs.

According to the ministry’s plan announced Monday, sales of the chemical substance, which is used in food, medical and cosmetic products, will be permitted in about two years, after authorities complete all the necessary preparations.

Health Minister Nitzan Horowitz said decriminalizing CBD was part of a greater push "for the regulation of the cannabis plant," adding that "it is widely agreed [CBD] should not be classified as a dangerous drug."

CBD is a non-psychoactive substance and is not known to have any adverse effect on memory. It is also an anti-inflammatory chemical and is being studied as a potential treatment for inflammatory bowel diseases, hepatitis, arthritis and autoimmune diseases.

Some studies also claim to show that it can help to quickly mend broken bones.

In recent years, with the development of the industry of cannabis products and cannabis derivatives, including a growing market for CBD-based products, a worldwide trend to change the chemical’s legal status has begun. In many countries, sales of CBD-based products are already legal.

In December, Minister Horowitz appointed a professional committee headed by Prof. Joshua (Shuki) Shemer to examine the feasibility of removing the chemical from the Dangerous Drugs Ordinance.

The ministry says that priority is being given to the safety of food and cosmetic products and their impact on public health over the economic significance of any decision made on the legal status of CBD.

The committee recommended that the family of plant-based CBD derivatives be excluded from the dangerous drugs category. It also advised not to authorize the use of CBD in combination with quantities of THC – the psychoactive chemical in cannabis – that exceed 0.2 percent, but Horowitz decided that the maximum permitted amount of THC would be 0.3 percent.

The committee also recommended that the coming two years serve as a preparatory period ahead of permitting these products to be sold in Israel, during which research into the safety of CBD-based products should be encouraged and financed.

The committee also recommended that an oversight and enforcement system be set up for cosmetics and food products, given the wide usage and popularity of CBD-products among the public, including the online purchase of unregulated CBD products.

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