Cannabis to be first-line treatment in Israel under sweeping reforms

In the latest indication of changing attitudes to the use of cannabis for medical and recreational use amongst developed economies, Israel’s Health Ministry is set to introduce sweeping reforms aimed which would increase the number of medical cannabis patients.

The Cannabis market is a key emerging risk for (re)insurers and brokers, and stock prices of Israel operators have climbed since the announcement.

The reforms, which are expected to be introduced from December this year, are “great news for tens of thousands of Israeli citizens and the economy”, according to Health Minister Moshe Arbel.

The proposed changes include the transition of medical cannabis from a “last resort treatment” to a “first-line treatment”.  This means that when the new regulations come into force from December this year, doctors will be able to issue prescriptions to patients without them needing to prove that they have tried alternative drugs for a year.

Another major change which is expected to ease patient access and see patient numbers grow significantly is the removal of the need for many patients to obtain cumbersome and time consuming government licences.

This transition is expected to take place in January 2024, but will initially only impact around 10% of patients.

Patients suffering from cancer, Crohn’s disease, dementia, autism, multiple sclerosis, HIV and those who have been given less than six months to live will now be able to obtain prescriptions from their doctors without obtaining a licence.

The new guidelines also seek to encourage more cannabis research, introducing a number of measures designed to make getting new research approved less cumbersome.

Alongside the liberalisation of many of the current rules, the reforms will also see a number of new restrictions imposed around advertising and packaging.