Article by Max Schindler, Jerusalem Post
Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu told a Likud party faction meeting on Monday that the country’s law enforcement and the Public Security Ministry oppose a plan to export medical marijuana, according to a meeting attendee.
Israel has already granted licenses to a handful of cannabis growers and manufacturers, but exports are stalled over a multi-million-shekel funding dispute to securely hold the drug at Ben Gurion International Airport.
The Public Safety Ministry’s legal adviser, Yoel Hadar, told a Knesset hearing on Monday that the ministry supports exporting marijuana, provided that it get more money to prevent medicinal marijuana from being abused recreationally.
The proposal has run into other roadblocks, with US President Donald Trump reportedly calling Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu three weeks ago to object to the planned medical cannabis exports.
The Israeli government is said to have agreed to Trump’s request, out of concern of not endangering the relationship with a vital ally.
After Netanyahu halted the export plan, he punted it back to the Health Ministry and the chairman of the National Economic Council, Avi Simhon, for further review.
The prime minister ultimately must approve the export since marijuana is legally classified as a drug.
Amid concerns that a billion- dollar industry is at stake due to Trump’s request and bureaucratic complications, Knesset members from the coalition and opposition on the Economic Affairs Committee spoke out in favor of exporting the drug.
Economics committee Chairman MK Eitan Cabel (Zionist Union) said: “My intention is to make the export of medical cannabis become a fait accompli… It could be a dramatic change for Israeli agriculture, and if we don’t do it, someone else will.”
He added that exports of the drug, deemed illegal in many countries, could help revitalize agriculture, given that the average age of a farmer is over 60.
“If medical cannabis helps tens of millions of people around the world, and if it can save Israeli agriculture…