Israel is implementing significant changes to its medical cannabis legislation to promote improved access for patients, less stringent regulatory measures and a more streamlined export process for distributors.
The country’s Ministry of Health announced the reform on Monday, which aims to transfer responsibility to producers and promote the acceleration of research and innovation in the field. The changes will be taking effect by the end of December this year.
The reforms will enable cannabis to be used as a first-line treatment rather than a last resort based on medical discretion and medical cannabis will be prescribed as easily as other medications.
Israeli patients suffering from diseases like Crohn’s, dementia, Parkinson’s, Tourette syndrome, multiple sclerosis and other conditions will no longer require a license for obtaining medical cannabis in the country once the new reforms are implemented. The changes are anticipated to benefit Israel’s economy as well.
Israel’s Ministry of Health says there will be significantly reduced approval times for clinical studies and animal experimentation for cannabis research and development purposes too.
“No additional approval process will be required in order to grant a license for clinical research [in humans] or for animal experiments, beyond technical examination and granting of a license that will be carried out within up to 14 working days,” reads the ministry’s announcement.
The announcement also specifies how Israel’s government plans to consider removing CBD and other cannabinoids from the country’s Controlled Substances Act beginning February next year. Despite the nation’s increasingly progressive stance on medical cannabis, the act still considers natural CBD to be an illegal dangerous drug in Israel.
However, synthetic CBD is not recognized as being illegal in the country. “It should be clarified that CBD, which is not of plant origin but of synthetic origin, is not a dangerous drug and is not prohibited by the ordinance” reads the announcement.
The government’s move received praise from the international cannabis company IM Cannabis Corp. (CSE: IMCC) (NASDAQ: IMCC) as well. IM focuses on distributing medical cannabis in Israel and Germany; the company’s shares rose by over 22 per cent Friday to trade at $1.43 on the Canadian Securities Exchange.
“We believe it will change the face of the medical cannabis market in Israel,” said IM’s CEO Oren Shuster.
“This is great news for tens of thousands of Israeli citizens and for the economy and combines social sensitivity with the protection of public health,” said Israel’s Health Minister Moshe Arbel.
Other cannabis companies operating in Israel include Canada’s Atlas Global Brands Inc. (CSE: ATL), which recently shipped products from Snoop Dogg’s new cannabis line D*gg lbs to the country; Village Farms International, Inc. (NASDAQ: VFF), a company that made its first shipment of cannabis there from British Columbia in January this year; and SciSparc Ltd. (NASDAQ: SPRC), which has been actively engaged with studies in Israel on a CBD-based drug used for the treatment of health conditions like autism and epilepticus.