A new era of medical cannabis exports is underway in Israel after a Revadim-based firm sent a shipment to the UK.

It is precisely one year since the Israeli government approved cannabis exports, but licenses have been held up in red tape. At one point the government was even pledging to expedite applications for producers that fell in line with new domestic regulations requiring them to sell marijuana via pharmacies rather than direct to consumer.

BOL Pharma, a cultivator based in the kibbutz of Revadim in the south of Israel, said it has received a license and sent its first batch to Britain. It is destined for centres that specialize in the treatment of children with epilepsy and autism.

BOL Pharma chief executive Dr. Tamir Gedo called it “a real breakthrough” for the Israeli medical cannabis market. He said that Israel has a huge competitive edge over rivals in the emerging sector and added: “Further opening of the market to exports will enable Israel to become a world leader in the coming years.”

Israel has a long history as a pioneer within the field of medical cannabis. In Novemeber 2019, government mapped out ambitious plans to grow the country’s medical cannabis sector in a new white paper aimed at overseas investors.

However, the volume of production remains relatively modest. The government feared exports would lead to an increase in production, which would cause an overspill that increased the country’s black market.

Producers threatened to up sticks and move to Europe if the government did not relent, so it eventually legalized exports. Israel is well placed geographically to serve the European cannabis market, which is tipped to become the largest in the world within a few years.

The UK has the potential to develop into one of the largest markets in the world, due to the size and affluence of its population. It legalized medical cannabis in November 2018, but the first products are only just starting to be approved for NHS prescriptions.

Campaigners have spent the past 14 months calling for better patient access and they may be cheered to learn of BOL Pharma’s export deal.

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