The Israeli Health Ministry has reportedly promised to prioritize medical cannabis companies that fall in line with new domestic sales regulations when it comes to issuing export permits.

Producers have historically sold direct to patients in Israel, but regulations changed in April and they are now required to sell through pharmacies instead. This has been met with criticism from producers and patients alike, as the addition of a middleman in the supply chain pushes prices up.

Yet the Israeli Health Ministry claims this will improve overall quality standards, as cannabis sold through pharmacies must adhere to Good Manufacturing Process standards.

As of September 2019, Israeli marijuana producers must sell 10% of their output through pharmacies. This figure has to increase by 10% each month and by January 2020 all cannabis must meet GMP standards and go through the official supply channels.

A source within the industry told Israeli tech site Calcalist that the government is promising that the growers that make the transition to supplying via the pharmacies the soonest will receive precedence when it comes to gaining export licenses.

Israel has had a thriving domestic medical marijuana industry for many years and it is seen as a pioneer in the global scene. However, exports were outlawed until this year, as the government feared an increase in production would increase the country’s black market.

Yet major firms threatened to decamp to Europe, a move that would have hit the country in the pocket, so it relented and legalized medical marijuana exports in January 2019. Israel is perfectly positioned to serve the European cannabis market, which is tipped to become the largest in the world within a few years, and companies are understandably desperate to commence exports.

The government is also now keen to see exports commence, as it appreciates the size of the economic boost and increased tax revenue the country will receive. However, the Ministry of Health is still yet to issue its first export license as applications have been held up in red tape.

The Ministry is now apparently dangling the carrot of the first export licenses to producers to see them fall in line with new domestic regulations. Elsewhere, the Ministry is pushing to subsidize medicinal cannabis for Israeli children and adults with autism.