Israel: Ministry of Health allows Import of Cannabis and CBD without Stringent Standards

November 17, 2019

Drama in the industry: From now on, importation of medical cannabis from abroad is permitted even under stringent quality standards without the strict quality standards. The goal: to alleviate the shortage of pharmacies. The new Israeli cannabis farms may be damaged.

First publication: The Ministry of Health permits for the first time import of medical cannabis containing THC from abroad even without complying with the strict Israeli standard (IMC-GMP) or its corresponding standards, as well as in the form of raw material and not only as a finished product as permitted to date.

This decision by the Ministry of Health is a significant relief compared to the previous procedure that was also revealed in Cannabis magazine about five months ago and will only allow imports from companies that have the strict EU-GMP standard as well as only a finished and packaged product.

This is a big news for importers and patients, but in what is likely to provoke the anger of new cannabis farm owners in Israel that have been established and will rise to stringent standards in which tens of millions of NIS have been invested. Some have dreamed of receiving a price of NIS 5 and up per gram - which will probably not be possible now.

For example, an Israeli cannabis factory is now authorized to import tons of medical cannabis from farms that hold a basic GAP standard (e.g. Global GAP, as the farms held in the old series) and not just the stringent standard, as long as the raw material meets the cleanliness tests conducted in Israel.

Products that do not contain THC but only CBD can now be imported even without GAP or GMP standards at all, as long as they hold the approval of a dietary supplement. Once imported, they will have to pass through the Israeli production chain according to the procedures and for licensed patients only.

After the establishment of the government and the planned CBD exemption under the Drugs Ordinance, subject to the approval of the Health Commission, CBD and its products can be imported without passage through the production chain but directly to retailers and consumers without a medical cannabis license.

Cannabis Magazine's review also reveals that customs authorities have completed the procedures for importing previously unregistered cannabis, including "bonded" (warehouse) procedures for receiving the goods, and more.

On the one hand, some claim that there are not many productive countries that comply with the above procedures and that the products are usually more expensive than in the country and will therefore be complex and unprofitable to import such goods. On the other hand, some claim that medical cannabis can now be imported at very low costs - even up to 10 cents a gram.

Recall, as revealed in Cannabis Magazine, the Department of Agriculture objected to importing cannabis from abroad and even stated that the import approved by the Ministry of Health for Saiki was illegal. A review of Cannabis Magazine revealed that the Department of Health coordinated with the Department of Agriculture the new procedures to make this possible.

This update joins other eases reported by the Ministry of Health in its response to the High Court, as revealed in a magazine yesterday. Among other things, the number of quality tests will only be reduced to 1 at the end of the production process, new farms will be able to grow thousands of seedlings immediately instead of only 180, and more.

Regarding self-tumor permitting for medical cannabis patients, there was some regression. Despite the Secretary-General's statement that he does not rule out allowing this possibility, the Ministry of Health replied to a petition filed against it because it opposes it because it is contrary to the UN Drug Convention and that their position does not have a medical advantage.