Israel Health Minister Yuli Edelstein and Deputy Health Minister Yoav Kisch have announced a new subsidy program that will reduce the cost of medical cannabis products until the end of 2020 and also allow Israeli producers to export their products.
The Jerusalem Post reported on Sunday that the subsidy, which has already gone into effect, will ease costs for Israeli medical patients and ramp up domestic production.
Previously, Israel has struggled with cannabis product shortages, as well as complaints about price and quality, which led to the country becoming one of the world’s largest importers of medical cannabis.
Under the new temporary measures, the ministry will only allow companies to export cannabis after they have reduced domestic prices and demonstrated they have enough inventory to supply local markets, reports Calcalist.
Edelstein said that if the changes prove successful, further and more permanent measures could be introduced. “I am glad we’ve started the product discounting process,” he told the Jerusalem Post.
“Much more work is needed to make the price accessible and reduce it further even after the pilot period, and we will do so,” he added.
“This is an experimental pilot of three months that will provide an immediate price reduction with a continuous supply of inventory while opening up the export market to cannabis companies in the State of Israel,” said Kisch. “The success of the move and the burden of proof depend on the manufacturers. If the inventories and low prices are maintained, so will the ability to export after the pilot.”
And while most of Israel’s medical cannabis companies welcomed the news, including Dr. Dadi Segal, CEO of Panaxia, Israel’s largest medical cannabis company, who called the changes “good news for the entire Israeli economy,” not everyone shares the same optimistic outlook.
“The Ministry of Health can’t hold export as a hostage and make it dependent on its whims,” Meir Ariel, CEO of Bazelet, told Calcalist. “This is a spin and a bluff. Companies will allocate their better quality products to export where they will be able to get more money for them and leave the problematic products for the Israeli patients.”
Currently, there are 66 products available for Israel medical cannabis patientsm with most patients paying between NIS 750 and NIS 2,000 per month (about $290 to $800), reports Calcalist.
Following the announcement, the share prices of several Israeli medical cannabis companies jumped, including Panaxia, which climbed more than 34 per cent.
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