Israel is taking big steps into future research, development and growth of cannabis farms, with an eye for export and internal use for medical purposes. New facilities will be built in the next years, according to Israeli Government officials. “In two years we will have protocols in place that will allow farmers to grow cannabis,” Israeli Agriculture Minister Uri Ariel said to reporters of Israel Radio on Sunday.
The announcement came weeks after Israel approved a series of measures aiming at making cannabis products more accessible to patients in the country. According to the Health ministry, there are 23.000 patients in Israel who would benefit from the new initiative.
“The Agriculture Ministry has set up specific areas for the research and trial of growing cannabis, a plant whose foremost use is the medical treatment of patients around the world,” said the Israeli Agriculture Minister.
For this to happen, new laws will be issued. According to Health Minister Yaakov Litzman, the Government will not limit the number of those who would want to grow cannabis, but the farmers will have to follow a strict set of rules in order to be approved. Also, more doctors will be allowed to issue prescriptions, and cannabis-related products will be readily available in pharmacies across Israel.
As early as June, Justice Minister Ayelet Shaked said in a conversation with Army Radio that Israel is considering decriminalising cannabis possession. That is, those caught with marijuana possession will not go to jail, instead they will pay fines. Shaked underlined the fact that discussions held within the governing body aim at decriminalising, not legalisation of drugs.
According to legislators, the bill will decriminalise possession of up to 15 grams of cannabis for anyone over the age of 21. Those caught in their home with a “personal” amount of cannabis would pay a fine of NIS 300 ($78), while those caught in public would be fined NIS 1,500 ($390).