November 06, 2018, Israel
Moshe Kahlon—Israel’s finance minister lambastes the country’s Ministry for Public Security for unnecessarily delaying the approval of medical marijuana exports, an inaction he claims would harm Israel’s economy, farmers, and marijuana industry.
The global market for medical cannabis is estimated at $55 billion and countries such as Australia, Netherlands, Uruguay, and Canada allow exporting medical marijuana to tap this market. However, in Israel, approval for medical marijuana exports is pending approval despite the government giving its complete support to not just the underlying idea, but also to the medical cannabis producers, who are ready to export and take part in the international trade.
The man held responsible for the delay is Gilad Erdan—Israel’s Public Security Minister. However, Erdan is yet to publicly admit this. Regardless, the country’s Finance Minister Moshe Kahlon has had enough of the deliberate delay in approval of medical marijuana exports and on Monday, he reached out to Tzachi Braverman—the Cabinet Secretary, to demand that a meeting of the cabinet be immediately called to approve exports and ensure the relevant legislation. Following is what Kahlon wrote to the Cabinet Minister:
“For more than six months, the Public Security Ministry has been preventing the plan from being put on the cabinet’s agenda, thereby harming Israel’s economy, farmers and local industry”.Further adding “During these months a number of countries around the world, including Australia and Canada, began to export medical cannabis”
The issue was last discussed by the cabinet in April and at that time, the finance, health, and agriculture ministries backed the legalization of medical cannabis exports. The Office of the Prime Minister also gave its consent to the idea. In fact, the move was backed by officials belonging to the Public Security Ministry after Kahlon increase on increase the budget of the police to ensure the enforcement of marijuana laws.
The demand from the Public Security Ministry was limiting the number of authorized exporters. However, this was opposed by the Ministry of Justice. Officials from the Treasury department have tried to meet Erdan to hear his objections, but the Public Security Minister has declined the offer. Since then, the Public Security Minister has added new conditions according to Finance Minister Kahlon. The Minister writes in his letter to the cabinet:
“The [ministry’s] demands would increase uncertainty in the market, in particular with growers.” Further adding “I fear that we are being made to stop the [legislative] process for as long as possible …. It’s impossible to hold the economy, farmers and entrepreneurs hostage.”
Commenting on Kahlon’s letter to the cabinet, Erdan said the Finance Minister was being misled by his staff. Israel’s medical-marijuana industry was overhauled by the Health Ministry more than two years ago. This included issuing an infinite number of licenses to grow marijuana, which saw more than two hundred marijuana start-ups receiving licenses. The problem is that the local market isn’t big enough to support more than a handful of growers so the best bet for marijuana growers in the country is to get approved for exports, something which both they and the country’s Finance Minister are eagerly waiting for.
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