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How Israel Became a Global Leader in Medical Cannabis

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How Israel Became a Global Leader in Medical Cannabis

Permissive legislation in Israel has encouraged industry growth and medical marijuana innovations. The nation is now set to become a global leader in cannabis research, exports, and more.

Cannabis is more global than ever before, with a growing number of countries choosing to legalize marijuana medically and recreationally. The global cannabis market is set to be worth as much as $16.9 billion in 2019 and $146.4 billion by 2025. When you think about cannabis industry leaders, your mind may wander to the booming legal market in California, the 420-friendliness of Colorado, or Amsterdam’s legendary acceptance of weed. While these are great examples, the marijuana market of Israel isn’t anything to overlook.

(AP Photo/Dan Balilty)

Israel has quietly positioned itself as a major player in the global cannabis industry. For decades, the country has been establishing itself as a haven for cannabis researchers, farmers, and businesses. According to Saul Kaye, a pharmacist and the chief executive of iCAN: Israel-Cannabis, Israel is leaps and bounds ahead of other nations when it comes to cannabis industry innovations.

“We are proud of our forward-thinking government and will continue to work together to build the industry and help patients world-wide access safe, quality medical cannabis,” Kaye stated.

Israel’s Commitment to Medical Marijuana

Israel’s dominance in the field of medical cannabis research is no accident. Over the years, the nation has taken steps to encourage industry innovations and academic studies. In 2007, Israel became the first country to allow for medical research on cannabis. Additionally, they passed monumental legislation to decriminalize the personal use of marijuana. In 2017, the government committed to increasing the number of doctors allowed to prescribe medical cannabis.

Medical marijuana is such a popular field in Israel that Hadassah Academic College in Jerusalem now offers cannabis classes. These special classes are for medical students interested in studying the health benefits and risks associated with cannabis. The government has invested $2.13 million into 13 cannabis research projects focused on treating multiple sclerosis, metabolic syndrome, transplanted organ rejection, bacteria growth, and more. Due to these types of investments, cannabis researchers in Israel are at the forefront of genetic modification, pharmaceuticals, and medical tech.

“Israel is one of the leading cannabinoid centers of research in the world. There are about two dozen groups working on it and people come from all around the world to see what we do,” said world leading cannabis researcher Professor Raphael Mechoulam.

Big Bucks in Medical Cannabis Exports

While the domestic cannabis market in Israel is valued at about $250 million, the global market is estimated to skyrocket to over $31.4 billion by 2021. Market experts estimate the nation’s exports could be worth $60 billion by 2027. Furthermore, the government has determined that exports would raise Israel’s tax revenue by approximately $273 million.

This incredible potential was a driving force behind the passing of legislation earlier this year allowing for cannabis exports. “I am glad this is finally happening. It opens a very big market in Israel … I am glad we can reap the profits here in Israel,” said Justice Minister Ayelet Shaked.

The booming cannabis industry of Israel has been cashing in on exports all over the world; however, roadblocks from the FDA have stopped them from entering one of the world’s biggest markets — the United States. Current federal law prohibits cannabis companies from exporting their products to the U.S. market.

(Olivier Fitoussi –

Future legislation in the United States could one day welcome these exports and all cannabis products. With states across America legalizing and decriminalizing of cannabis, it’s only a matter of time. Regardless, on a global scale, it’s clear that the future is bright when it comes to a green Israel.


Joe Evans is a freelance writer, editor, journalist with over 4,000 published articles under his byline all over the web. He enjoys covering politics and culture. When he's not playing with his three dogs and spending time with family, he's probably watching sports.


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