Israel outruns Germany as the biggest global importer of medical cannabis-derived flower

Bethan Rose Jenkins, Cannabis News Writer/Editorial

The Middle Eastern country of Israel, renowned for being a “Holy Land” suffused with Abrahamic religions such as Christianity, Islam, Judaism and the Bahá’í Faith, has risen to prominence over the last few years as a hub for cannabis research. Now, according to the editor of Cannabis Magazine, Oren Lebovitch, Israel’s cannabis imports have put the country one step ahead of Germany.

While Germany may have been at the top of the ranks in regards to medical cannabis exports for quite some time, 2020 data shows that it has now officially been surpassed by Israel. Tel Aviv-based Cannabis Magazine collaborated with online news publisher Marijuana Business Daily to gather data about each country’s imports. 

The report indicated that Israel had imported in excess of six metric tons of cannabis flower into the country by July — double the amount of the three metric tons imported into Germany by the time May was over. Israel managed to import almost four metric tons of the plant by early June for medicinal purposes.  

Since Israel only started welcoming large imports this year, the data is impressive. It suggests that the country has become one of the globe’s largest importers within the space of just six months; as it knocks Germany off the top spot.

Requirements for Israel’s medical cannabis imports are less strict than other countries

Based on a statement by Cannabis Magazine’s owners, the fact that Israel’s import requirements are not as limiting as those enforced in the European Union of which Germany is a part of is undoubtedly a primary factor for the country’s success. 

Since EU-Good Manufacturing Practice (GMP) certification is a requirement for producers to sell their products in the EU, Israel is favored among those who are not certified. It’s also likely that Israel’s medical cannabis imports were given a boost from inflating internal demand; stimulated by the lack of high-THC flower being produced domestically across the Muslim country. 

Health Minister Ya’acov Litzman’s 2019 reform efforts led to a decline in the quality of medical cannabis flower; something that has propelled activist groups to push for greater access among patients. His reform efforts constituted several key changes to Israel’s medical cannabis program, with cost increases serving as ammo for officials to arrange extra imports and, ultimately, serve the inflating consumer demographic.

Legislative changes contributed to rise in Israel’s medical cannabis imports

Recently imposed legislative changes to Israel’s cannabis laws meant that the use of recreational weed was decriminalized countrywide. This law didn’t just benefit social consumers, but it also simplified the process by which patients could gain a prescription for the plant in its medicinal form. Subsequently, demand skyrocketed.

Even before the new rules were introduced, Israel was acknowledged as a global destination with one of the highest percentages of weed smokers. Statistically, a Yediot Aharonot poll claimed that 27 percent of Israeli people had smoked cannabis within the last year. 

As more politicians embrace cannabis reform, it’s not overly surprising that Israel’s medical cannabis exports are increasing. Israel is not wasting any time and is expected to bulk-up on its continuous/long-term import agreements within the second half of 2020, which could further signify its dominance in the market.