Expect a shakeup in the medical cannabis industry in Israel as the government lays out strategies for sprawling policy alterations envisioned to streamline patient access. This monumental development that has sparked a noteworthy surge in the stock prices of local cannabis companies was released by The Health Ministry on Monday, 7th August.
- Israel is transitioning from medical cannabis being a ‘last resort treatment’ to a ‘first-line treatment.’
- A new prescription model is set to replace the problematic license structure.
- The government is considering legalising CBD.
- New guidelines to encourage more cannabis research are in the pipeline.
- Restrictions on packaging and advertising are being introduced.
This forthcoming transformation, slated for implementation starting December, according to Health Minister Moshe Arbel, is “fantastic news for tens of thousands of Israeli citizens and the economy.” However, despite some critics claiming the reforms don’t go far enough to expedite access for many patients, most regard this as a major progressive stride for the industry.
First Line Treatment
The ‘first line treatment’ strategy is perhaps the most impactful upcoming shift. Doctors will no longer require patients to provide evidence of having tried alternative medications for a year. While this is expected to expand the patient demographic, there’s concern this doesn’t solve the issue of a deficient number of doctors licensed to prescribe medical cannabis.
Another significant overhaul is the eradication of the need for certain patients to procure lengthy and bureaucratic government licenses, a modification expected to significantly increase patient numbers. This shift to a prescription-based model directed by the country’s four official health insurance organisations is expected around January 2024 and will initially affect around 10% of patients.
There’s also news for the CBD industry as the reforms also address the ongoing regulatory uncertainty surrounding CBD. This could mean a ‘definitive legalisation’ is on the horizon, a considerable gain for a sector that has faced heavy regulations.
The new guidelines also propel cannabis research by unveiling measures to simplify approval processes for further studies. The government has introduced easing several rigid controls on the import of raw materials for research purposes whilst maintaining limits on the import of finished products.
But it’s not all about loosening the screws. The reforms will also impose new restrictions on advertising and packaging with a focus towards the ‘medicalisation’ of the industry. This will see products appearing more medicinal and less like consumer goods in their packaging.
BRITISH CANNABIS Speaks Up
The significance of these reforms cannot be underestimated. They represent a new era for the medical cannabis industry – not only in Israel but also worldwide. They provide a blueprint that other countries may choose to follow. As Israel moves ahead with these reforms, we will be observing keenly, for progress always creates opportunities for learning and improvement.