“There is no doubt that this is truly good news for farmers and for citizens in need of medical cannabis treatment,” Weinstock said on Wednesday.
The granting of preliminary approvals to build farms comes just a week-and-a-half after the cabinet authorized a plan to decriminalize marijuana use by first-time offenders. While recreational use of marijuana remains illegal, medical cannabis has been legal in Israel since the 1990s. However, because cannabis is defined as a “dangerous drug,” working with it requires a special license through the Dangerous Drugs Ordinance, the Health Ministry said.
The process toward opening up the country’s medical cannabis market dates back nearly six years, beginning with an August 2011 resolution that established the Medical Cannabis Unit within the Health Ministry.
By June 2016, the government passed a resolution regulating various aspects of the sector, including a policy for expanding the number of approved medical cannabis growers.
Yet after farmers still did not receive their cultivation permits, Weinstock submitted a petition to the Jerusalem District Court in January 2017, against a variety of government bodies and the Israeli Police, demanding that the latter conduct the necessary security checks on farmers interested in growing medical cannabis.
Weinstock expressed her hopes that from this point on, there would be no need to refile petitions, after learning that the Israel Police was performing the necessary checks on the farmers in accordance with previous judgments.
“On one hand, I am happy and proud that we reached this day on which the government and the Israel Police are honoring the judgment we received, and confirmed that dozens of our clients can establish farms for the production of cannabis for medical purposes,” Weinstock said. “But on the other hand, I am troubled that it required long legal battles to force the Israeli government to open the market for the growth and production of medical cannabis, and then to compel the Israel Police to act in accordance with the government decision.”
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