Medical Marijuana in Israel

Updated on August 21, 2018.  Medical content reviewed by Dr. Joseph Rosado, MD, M.B.A, Chief Medical Officer

Israel is a trailblazer in medical marijuana research. With full support from the Ministry of Health, Israeli scientists have made some of the field’s most groundbreaking discoveries. So, it’s no wonder that Israeli citizens benefit from an evolved medical marijuana program.

Israel’s Medical Marijuana Program

Israel’s medical marijuana program aims to provide patients in need with natural relief. At the time of writing, patients must work with a specially trained doctor to receive approval from the government to use cannabis medicine. A patient must also have a qualifying condition to get a medical marijuana license.

However, the Ministry of Health may plan to loosen regulations soon. In 2016, government officials began to discuss the possibility of requiring only a prescription for medical marijuana instead of a permit. Israeli officials in the Ministry of Health advocate for safe and fast access for patients in need.

The History of Medical Marijuana in Israel

We wouldn’t be where we are today without Israel’s contributions to medical cannabis research. In fact, we can thank Raphael Mechoulam, who discovered the endocannabinoid system over 50 years ago, for our progress. As a researcher at the Weizmann Institute of Science, he created the foundation for the research we conduct today.

Israel approved the use of medical marijuana in 1999. Ten years later, they expanded the program to accept more patients and begin approving cannabis for hospital use. In 2017, Israel’s Finance and Health Ministries worked together to approve the export of medicinal cannabis, estimating a profit of NIS 1 billion to NIS 4 billion a year.

Marijuana Cultivation and Possession in Israel

Only licensed growers can cultivate marijuana. Before legalizing the export of medical marijuana, Israel had eight licensed growers. However, in response to this change, 500 more growers applied for licenses.

Israel previously restricted medical marijuana use and possession to the address listed on the patient’s license. However, they can use oil and vaporizers in public as of 2017.

In November 2017, it was announced that Israel was preparing to become the third largest exporter of medical cannabis after the world’s largest grow-house, Breath of Live Pharma (BOL), was slated to open there. It was estimated that BOL would produce 80 tons of medical cannabis a year. The export of medical cannabis has been legal in Israel since February 2017.

Israeli Telemedicine

Israel allows telemedicine providers to provide sick notes, refills and referrals to patients. The Health Ministry must approve other services.

So, you may or may not be able to receive a medical marijuana appointment using telemedicine. Before making an appointment, confirm the doctor can help you apply for a medical marijuana permit.

Qualifying for Medical Marijuana in Israel

Patients with a wide variety of conditions can apply for medical marijuana in Israel. Qualifying conditions include:

  • Cancer
  • Chronic neuropathic pain
  • Crohn’s disease
  • Multiple Sclerosis
  • PTSD
  • Epilepsy
  • Colitis
  • Parkinson’s disease
  • Tourette’s Syndrome
  • Terminal illness

The condition must be documented in the patient’s medical records submitted as part of the medical marijuana permit application.

Joining Israel’s Medicinal Cannabis Program

Signing up for a medical marijuana card in Israel involves five steps:

  1. Visit a specialist for your condition to get a recommendation
  2. Receive confirmation that the Health Ministry’s Medical Cannabis Unit received your application
  3. Wait for the Medical Cannabis Unit to review your application
  4. Get approval or denial from the Medical Cannabis Unit
  5. If approved, receive medical marijuana license

Facts About Israeli Medical Cannabis

Check out the following facts about medical cannabis in Israel:

  • 27% of Israeli adults aged 18-65 have used marijuana in the previous year — the most out of any country.
  • Many U.S. medical companies outsource their cannabis research to Israel.
  • Israel is one of only three countries with a federal medical marijuana program, with the other two being Canada and the Netherlands.

Medical Marijuana-Related Penalties in Israeli Law

Israel decriminalized marijuana in early 2017, switching from a focus on prosecution to a focus on education. This means that a first-time offender will only receive a fine instead of criminal charges. Once someone is caught four times, the government will begin to impose criminal charges such as jail time or large fines.

Keep Up With News and Updates

Since Israel focuses so much on healthy medical marijuana access, their marijuana laws are a constant work in progress. Keep up with Israeli cannabis laws by following our blog, where we keep track of developments worldwide. In addition to updating you on global medical cannabis policies, provides medical and lifestyle tips.

Resources for Medical Marijuana Patients in Israel