A medical cannabis company in New Mexico has started exporting hemp-based medicine to Israel after tying up a deal with local pharmaceutical group Panaxia.

Ultra Health chief executive and president Duke Rodriguez praised New Mexico state officials for their crucial assistance in beginning the export effort. The company has now started shipping medical products made from hemp grown in Bernalillo County to Israel for use among patients.

Ultra Health has previously clashed with the state on a couple of key issues. It first took umbrage with a ruling that only state residents could enrol in the New Mexico marijuana program.

The company had already been advertising its wares to people living in west Texas, so it sued the state. A district judge ruled in favour of Ultra Health. That decision forced New Mexico to begin issuing medical marijuana cards to all qualifying patients, regardless of where they live.

Ultra Health then took New Mexico to court again after the state rejected producers’ applications for gross receipts tax relief. Once again the firm prevailed, as the Court of Appeals ruled that medical marijuana producers could claim tax relief.

This ruling left New Mexico with a potential $24 million hole in its budget. However, there appears to be no hard feelings between the state and Ultra Health, as Rodriguez said New Mexico officials had played a crucial role in getting the export effort started.

Israel permitted medical cannabis use back in the early 1990s, so it has a long history in the sector. However, it only recently permitted exports after caving into demand from producers.

They are now trying to ramp up production in order to flood Europe and other markets with Israeli medical marijuana. A new era of medical cannabis exports began when a Revadim-based firm sent a shipment to the UK in January.

However, production remains limited. The government is trying to attract foreign investors to back its medical cannabis sector. “This is a statement by the State of Israel that it is promoting the sector of cannabis for medical use, just as it has previously promoted the cybersecurity and auto-technology industries,” said Ziva Eger, chief executive of the Israeli Foreign Investments and Industrial Cooperation Authority.

Yet in the meantime there is not enough to supply the domestic market, so it has turned to New Mexico for additional products.

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