Europe is expected to become a global leader in medi
cal cannabis worth trillions of euros, yet regulatory barriers are preventing Israeli companies full success.
By AVIHU TAMIR
(photo credit: REUTERS)
When evaluating the international medical cannabis markets, we can predict with a high degree of certainty that the European market will not be the first destination for global activity, but most likely, Canada or the US will beat them to it.
However, this reality is set to shift in the coming years, as Europe is
To date, European
Israeli innovation in the field of medical cannabis has garnered the attention of companies in Europe – both at the technological and scientific development levels. In terms of exporting cannabis blooms to European countries, Israel is certainly of keen interest to various European countries. However, fierce competition is already underway with European countries such as Greece, Macedonia and Portugal. These countries have relatively cheap labor, similar weather to Israel solved the issue of customs duties in Europe. Israel can still exploit its relative technological advantage and offer unique cannabis varieties tailored to various medical or cosmetic needs, but this window of opportunity is also expected to end in the coming years as Canadian and American companies base operations in Europe.
Another opportunity for Israel is in the field of CBD, the main component of the cannabis plant that does not have psychoactive effects. Unlike Israel, where the Health Ministry still regards CBD as a dangerous drug, most countries today allow the purchase of CBD legally rather than demanding a prescription. However, each country has a different policy, with Denmark and Belgium, for example, still requiring a doctor’s prescription. Leading Israeli companies are providing various CBD-based solutions locally, and due to current regulatory barriers, there is no incentive to sell it in Europe, so time-to-market is rapid and it generates significant revenue. Today, despite the legal ban, products containing CBD can be purchased in a growing number of dedicated stores in central Tel Aviv, and police also appear to have decided not to enforce the law on this issue.
The business potential, along with other benefits such as geographical proximity and high accessibility, create a substantial window of opportunity for Israeli cannabis tech companies. Identifying the potential is not enough. The government ministries that are behind the promotion of CBD, headed by the Economy Ministry, the Export Institute, the Innovation Authority and the Health Ministry, play a crucial role in realizing it. They should take the reins and remove regulatory barriers that prohibit Israeli companies from selling CBD products abroad, as well as clearing the path to research and development dedicated to the wellness markets of non-prescription products.
Implementing a policy that