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Cultivating Hope: Israel’s Cannabis Industry Struggles Amidst Imports and Black Market Competition

Cultivating Hope: Israel’s Cannabis Industry Struggles Amidst Imports and Black Market Competition

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Once hailed as a beacon of hope for farmers and patients alike, Israel’s cannabis industry found itself on an unexpected and turbulent path. Back in 2019, there were only eight active cannabis farms in Israel, but the industry contributed tremendously to farmers and catered to thousands of registered medical cannabis patients.

The stage was set for growth and prosperity when a significant reform opened doors for dozens of entrepreneurs and growers to obtain licenses and join the cannabis cultivation game. There was an air of optimism among farmers, who envisioned exporting their cannabis expertise and taking advantage of the robust Israeli sun in the arid desert.

Israel’s medical cannabis market size in numbers:

125,000 registered patients
50% chronic pain management
15% PTSD
15% oncology
20% for various conditions, such as
284 pharmacies
110 certified cannabis doctors
80 cultivation sites
30 distros
Ten post-processing and packaging sites
Ten testing labs
Eight research labs
90% of dried flower consumption
10% cannabis oil (not the rosin type that you think it is)

However, the cannabis landscape took a surprisingly sharp turn after the reform was implemented. Unforeseen difficulties arose, with about 90% of the leading cannabis brands’ valuations shrinking within three years since the 2019 reform initiated. Even those with connections at the highest seats in the house, with backgrounds in industrial and military complexes, not to mention the government, were not spared from this downturn. While we try to understand what the roots of these challenges lay, let’s not forget that cannabis is classified as a Schedule I drug under the UN treaty, imposing international restrictions on its trade.

The allure of cannabis exports dwindled as regulations and treaty limitations hindered Israel’s cannabis ambitions on the global stage. Executives and prominent figures in the industry found themselves facing foreclosure as their once-promising initiatives crumbled.

Yet, amidst this somber landscape, one company emerged as a beacon of resilience – INTERCURE, led by none other than former Prime Minister Mr. Ehud Barak. By combining local cultivation with strategic imports and collaborating with renowned brands like “Cookies” by Berner and Mike Tyson with Tyson 2.0 … INTERCURE managed to maintain profitability, bucking the trend of decline.

Amidst the challenges faced by Israel’s cannabis industry, there are glimmers of success that defy the odds. One such enigmatic triumph lies with a company that remains nameless, yet its achievements resonate. With every production batch pre-sold, this company has captured an elusive magic that leaves analysts scratching their heads. While the industry speculates on the methods behind this success, the enigma persists, prompting continued research to unravel its secrets. Another beacon of prosperity is the lesser-known Seach. Operating on a foundation of agricultural expertise, this company, managed by two dedicated brothers, has cultivated a reputation for excellence. Their meticulous approach and deep-rooted commitment to professionalism have enabled them to weather the storm. Amidst a landscape of uncertainty, these successes illuminate the potential and resilience that persists within Israel’s cannabis industry.

One of the consequences of importing cannabis is that Israel now finds itself importing more than it grows, with Canada being a significant supplier. The Canadian imports led to a reduction in local cannabis prices, creating a fiercely competitive market. While competition is not inherently bad, the influx of supply has disrupted the market dynamics, leaving around 41,500 kilograms (about 91,491.73 lbs.) of unconsumed cannabis.

The consequences of this oversupply are evident in the struggles of once-pioneering companies like Tikun Olam, whose presence in the Israeli market has significantly diminished. The question lingers: What caused the market to stumble despite the presence of both patients and flowers?

Suspicions arise about potential over-regulation, limitations on exports, and the shadow cast by the black market. Unscrupulous illegal operations thrive, often with poor product standards, and advertise their offerings on major social media platforms with alarming ease.

In the face of these challenges, Israel is taking steps to ease patient access to medical cannabis by allowing prescriptions through pharmacies under specific conditions. While this might alleviate pressure on the licensing system, it’s still uncertain how this will impact the overall market.

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As the dust settles and the market stabilizes, one lingering issue remains – pricing. A diverse range of prices, from $120 per 10 grams for top-shelf quality to as low as $15 for 10 grams, presents a complex picture. Such discrepancies tempt the black market to exploit the situation and undercut the legal industry.

While the journey of Israel’s cannabis industry has been fraught with obstacles, there is still hope on the horizon. As the government addresses regulatory challenges and strives to maintain quality and safety standards, the market may eventually flourish once again.

Only time will reveal how Israel’s cannabis industry will navigate its way through the tangled web of imports, oversupply, and black-market competition. In this uncertain journey, the resilience of growers, the passion of patients, and the determination of entrepreneurs will play a crucial role in Cultivating Hope for the industry’s future.

We will be closely following the developments in Israel as the year 2024 unfolds. The forthcoming reform and its potential outcomes will undoubtedly shape the future of this nation. Israel’s aspiration to be a global leader in medical cannabis will be put to the test as the industry grapples with challenges, regulations, and external influences. The journey ahead is uncertain, but the tenacity of those involved, the resilience of the industry, and the unwavering support of patients and stakeholders offer a glimmer of hope. As the world watches, Israel has the opportunity to live up to its global positioning as the medical cannabis capital of the world.

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