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February 2, 2015 10:28 am

Israeli Medical Marijuana Available for Locals, But Government Refuses to Allow Exports

avatar by Shiryn Ghermezian

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Israel's medical marijuana industry is attracting global attention, but the country's government refuses to allow its export. Photo: Wikimedia Commons.

Medical marijuana is available in oral doses in Israel but government officials refuse to allow its export amid fear about how the Jewish state will be perceived by the rest of the world, The Washington Post reported on Sunday.

Michael Dor, the senior medical adviser in the Israeli Health Ministry’s cannabis unit, said agricultural officials support the export of Israeli medical cannabis in ongoing government talks. However, top officials in the police force, army and executive branch oppose it. Aside from the fact that exports face strict international legal requirements, Dor said those officials “don’t want Israel to be seen all over the world as a country that exports weapons and cannabis.”

If Israel does not export, there is a risk that “the knowledge will leak outside Israel, and the knowledge is worth a lot of money,” Dor added. “We would like to stay in the forefront.”

Experts say Israel has become a world leader on the medical uses of marijuana and its producers could become major exporters of medical cannabis, The Washington Post noted.

Medial marijuana in Israel – named “Rafael” after the healing angel Moses called upon in the Bible – is grown in greenhouses in the mountains of the Galilee. The country’s medical cannabis research and development is drawing global interest and already creating partnerships with companies around the world. PhytoTech Medical, an Australian medical cannabis venture, announced a deal on Monday with Yissum, the technology transfer branch of Jerusalem’s Hebrew University, to develop dosed pills for the pharmaceutical market.

“Israel is a bastion of cannabis research,” said Colorado doctor Alan Shackelford, who is now the chief science officer for One World Cannabis, publicly traded as OWC Pharmaceuticals. Ethan Nadelmann, of the Drug Policy Alliance in Washington, added, “Israel is truly at the forefront of medical marijuana. Why would Israel want to forgo its leadership?”

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