Market Date: 4 June, 2020

Israel’s medical cannabis reform proceeds to benefit almost nobody

Israel’s medical cannabis patients are creating yet another measure in their struggle against the nation’s new law, which came into full effect in early September. Intended to help standardize the sector by requiring more rigorous excellent control and incorporating pharmacies as middlemen between growers and growers, the reform has thus far led to market shortages and increased prices. Currently patients are demanding that pharmacies hand all of their standardized return back to the growers.

Prior to the reform, patients having a medical cannabis license paid a fixed amount of NIS 370 (roughly $105) per month whatever the amount they had been prescribed. Today, pharmacies cost NIS 180 (roughly $51) per 10 g, meaning anybody purchasing over 20 g are spending more than they did before the renewal. Moreover, the Ministry of Health has forced growers to deliver all item which doesn’t satisfy the new excellent standard, to accustom patients into the new process.

Medical cannabis. Photo: Getty Images

Israel’s medical cannabis patients have petitioned Israel’s Supreme Court several months back to put a halt to the regulations. The court has ordered the ministry of health to expand each of pre-reform patient licenses before March 2020, allowing those patients to keep on purchasing cannabis products in line with the old pricing as well as regular. Last week, Israeli nonprofit the Medical Cannabis Association delivered a letter to all growers, saying that despite the court order some growers have refused to comply and also furnish the product in line with the previous rates. From the letter, the institution threatened to appeal the court to maintain offending growers in contempt.

Currently, the institution is taking its struggle to the pharmacies. On Friday, the association sent a letter to the umbrella company the Pharmaceutical Association of Israel, saying that according to this court judgment they need to either return all non-standardized cannabis merchandise to the growers or market it based on the previous rates. Pharmacists must obey the court order, which “supersedes any administrative directive to the contrary,” the letter stated.

David Papo, chairman of the Pharmaceutical Association of Israel, advised Calcalist the pharmacists are but the messengers. It’s the growers that are intentionally creating shortages and increase prices, he explained, along with the pharmacists are made to market in line with the costs levied from the growers.

The pharmacists set the blame for the shortages on the growers if the latter didn’t hand over their non-standardized distribution, and when the distribution was passed over, they still blame the growers, Dana Bar-On, the creator and CEO of the Medical Cannabis Organization, informed Calcalist. However, the growers aren’t the only ones at fault for the shortages and the exorbitant rates, Bar-On explained. “These are non-standardized products that still fall under the old regulation that are now sold in pharmacies,” she explained. “The absurdity eclipses all logic.”

Although no grower has consented to go on record, many growers who spoke to Calcalist on condition of anonymity described their position as being between a rock and a tough location. They comply with all the regulator as well as the legislation, they stated, but the ruler has “seized” all of cannabis goods and handed them into the pharmacies, the non-standardized merchandise the Supreme Court has arranged could nevertheless be provided out of pharmacies. It’s the health ministry at its function as the ruler that has to fix the circumstance, ” they said.