Patients across Israel should find it easier to secure medicinal marijuana in the future after the Health Ministry decided to remove cannabis from the Dangerous Drugs Ordinance.

It means that anyone with a medical prescription can pick up cannabis at any pharmacy without requiring a special license. Right now the Health Ministry must grant permission for a patient to receive medicinal marijuana, but the change in legislation will permit specialist doctors to prescribe it instead.

“Israel is a leader in the use of cannabis for medical purposes, and this step is another stage in making it easier for patients and turning medical cannabis into a medical product like any other,” said Health Ministry Director-General Moshe Bar Siman Tov.

Deputy Health Minister Yaakov Litzman made the announcement and said the aim was to cut out bureaucracy. He insisted that it would not be possible for any Israeli to go into a pharmacy and leave with cannabis, but he said it is important to make it easier for pain sufferers to receive the medicine they need.

Israel is a pioneer in the field of medicinal cannabis and the U.S. is tapping into Israeli expertise to help manage its own burgeoning industry. It is a fast-growing sector in Tel Aviv, and it received a shot in the arm when parliament authorized exports earlier this year.

It is now poised to become one of the world’s leading suppliers in medicinal cannabis and it sees Europe as a huge prize. Even former Prime Minister Ehud Barak is involved in the industry, as he serves as chairman at InterCure Ltd. (TLV: INCR) and he claims its potential is vast.

Barak believes Israel possesses the knowledge, discipline, and precision that Canada lacks, arguing that this will allow it to become a world leader.

However, some fear that medical cannabis could become an investment bubble in Israel, and the Israel Securities Authority has formed a special task force designed to ensure investors are protected and not misled. It is exploring the possibility of expanding its dual-listing arrangements to include Australia as it attempts to forge ties with a greater number of foreign markets and attract more overseas investors.

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