Israel, a Medical Marijuana Pioneer, Is Eager to Capitalize

Israeli scientists began their pioneering research to isolate the psychoactive ingredient in marijuana with a 10-pound stash seized by the Tel Aviv police. That effort, in the 1960s, helped propel Israel to the vanguard of research into the plant’s medicinal properties and lay the foundations for a medical marijuana industry.

Now the nation’s burgeoning pot business, backed by an unlikely coalition of farmers, lawyers, scientists, entrepreneurs and the country’s ultra-Orthodox health minister, is going mainstream — and eyeing markets abroad.

Marijuana, or cannabis, is still classified as a dangerous drug in Israel and remains illegal for recreational purposes. But the government is also at the forefront of efforts to develop and expand the fast-growing medical marijuana industry and make Israel a major center for it.

Recent government efforts to regulate medical marijuana will make it more accessible and available by prescription at pharmacies. The government has also appointed a committee to examine the possibility of Israel becoming one of the few countries to allow exports, although the destination for products remains unclear.


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