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One of the world's largest markets for medical cannabis: Israel's medical marijuana calls for major reforms

There is no doubt that Israel is one of the largest medical marijuana markets in the world.
Growth in Israel's medical marijuana industry has slowed over the past few months, but experts say regulatory reform is imperative and could boost patient numbers if the country's volatile political situation stabilizes.
The number of authorized medical marijuana patients in Israel recently reached an all-time high - more than 123,000 - but declined in February, according to the Israel Medical Cannabis Agency (IMCA). By comparison, in 2020, the number of authorized medical marijuana patients more than doubled in two years. ~see chart~

Apparently, the small decline in February continues the slowdown. According to industry sources, this is partly due to the recent arrests of several psychiatrists by the government for allegedly issuing medical marijuana licenses without adequate medical justification. And another reason is the frequent changes in the Israeli government in recent years, where medical marijuana licenses can only be obtained for very specific diseases and specific conditions.
In 2020, the Israeli government had a plan to legalize adult-use marijuana modeled after Canada, but the plan was ultimately aborted due to the change in government.
Reforms to streamline the application process
In July 2022, a committee of Israel's Ministry of Health supported the implementation of major reforms to the regulatory framework for the medical marijuana industry, centered on streamlining the application process for medical marijuana patients from the government level. Transitioning from granting individual patient licenses, which involves a very complex application process, to having public health care services issue the prescriptions.
In August 2022, new regulations using this transitional approach were released and made available for public comment. The new regulations propose to authorize medical marijuana to be prescribed by a physician and dispensed by a dispensary. However, until now, the new regulations have not been approved.

Some industry insiders believe that when Israel moves to a prescription-only policy, it will revolutionize the market. The number of consumers will increase dramatically, and everyone who needs a prescription will be able to obtain one. Patients will have to obtain a license from Israel's medical marijuana regulator either directly from their doctor, or upon their doctor's request.
Israel's Ministry of Health has reported to the United Nations that it expects the number of legal medical marijuana patients to climb dramatically after its regulatory policy changes are implemented. The industry expects it could increase to about 250,000 within two years. Otherwise, the rate of growth could slow and is expected to reach only about 150,000 patients within two years.
Cannabis flower leaves are king
For many years, cannabis flower leaves have been the dominant product in the Israeli medical marijuana market.
The amount of flower leaves approved for sale has steadily increased in recent years, from 2,631 kilograms (2.9 tons) in 2021 to 4,334 kilograms in early 2023. There are pictures to prove it~~

It is worth noting that cannabis oil is not very popular in Israel. However, if it were a pure extract of cannabis, the percentage would probably be as high as in Canada and the United States. Israel states that people with a prescription for cannabis oil cannot purchase the flowering leaves, but those with a prescription for the leaves can purchase the oil.

In recent years, Israel has been one of the world's largest importers of medical marijuana, creating export opportunities for countries with mature medical marijuana resources. It is believed that Israel's position in the cannabis world will not change in the short term, but to maintain it in the long term, it will have to pay the price of reform.

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