Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said US President Donald Trump called and expressed his objection to Israeli exports of marijuana, an industry expected to earn the country between $1b. and $4b. a year.

Channel 2 News reported on Wednesday evening that Israel will forgo its plans to become a pioneer medical marijuana exporter for fear of upsetting Trump.

According to the report, Netanyahu announced putting the ambitious export project on hold in a meeting on Sunday with the ministers of agriculture, health and finance.

Before the ministry representatives could present their arguments, Netanyahu said Trump had called him and made clear his general attitude against marijuana exports, the report said.

Netanyahu told the ministers that it would not be wise to be the vanguard in this field, noting that Canada is the only country that has authorized the export of cannabis.

The report noted that when a Finance Ministry representative suggested that the problem could be skirted by avoiding export to the US, Netanyahu said it might not serve Israeli interests to go against the administration’s policy.

Last month the US Justice Department reversed its policy on the marijuana business, withdrawing legal guidelines widely seen as giving safe harbor against prosecution to cannabis businesses in states in which pot is legal.

An interministerial committee of the Israeli Finance and Health Ministries approved the export of medical cannabis in August 2017.

“The export of medical cannabis is an industry with significant economic potential for the State of Israel and will strengthen Israeli agriculture in general and agriculture in the Arava region in particular,” Finance Minister Moshe Kahlon said at the time. “It will serve as an opportunity for the country to exploit its relative advantage in developing medical products from medical cannabis.”

The committee found that Israel has many advantages in the budding market in terms of research and development, advanced regulation, clinical experience and climate.

It recommended that exports be approved only to countries which permit the use of medical cannabis and explicitly allow import from Israel, and that such exports be approved only for farmers who receive a Health Ministry license to grow it and export the cannabis.

Netanyahu’s decision will surely anger growers and investors who have poured millions into the industry. The government’s decision last month not to include the licensing of cannabis exporters in the 2018 budget, left some of them threatening to sell their wares on the black market. If, as reported, fear of upsetting Trump is behind the plan’s nixing, the entrepreneurs may have a long time to wait.

An estimated 50 Israeli medical marijuana companies work in cultivating plants or producing delivery devices such as inhalers, along with exporting cannabis cosmetics and skin-care products. In 2016, international investors poured more than $100 million into Israeli marijuana firms, according to Reuters.

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  1. Jeremy Moore

    I disagree with your opener about Trump telling Israel what to do. It’s been reported that Netanyahu made that move on his own so he didn’t jeopardize relations with the US. I haven’t been able to find anything like what you wrote. I think credibility and trust are important in the beginnings of the industry in Florida. I hope you review the facts and edit your article.

  2. Israel Cancels Cannabis Exports Over Trump Fears – 1AFSYM

    […] post Israel Cancels Cannabis Exports Over Trump Fears appeared first on […]

  3. Rob

    During the State Of the Union Trump stated that the right to try act should be in effect fully he has also asked that it be decriminalized, there is also an article on Mary Jane about his stance of which i will copy and past link and what his way of thinking is, Trump is not as bad as people are labeling him to be. In fact he has so far kept every single promise he said he would so have some trust and faith in him and give him a chance instead of listening to negativity we are truly blessed to have him as president.

    Donald Trump

    If you want the candidate with the highest probability of ensuring marijuana will be legal across the country, Donald Trump is your best option.

    I know for many of you this news might be rather hard to digest. Granted Trump has never held political office, however his pro-marijuana stance surpasses that of any other candidate in the field.

    In 1990, the Sarasota Herald-Tribune has Donald Trump on record claiming US drug enforcement is ‘a joke’ and all drugs should be legalized to ‘take the profit away from these drug czars.’ According to Trump, tax revenues from a legalized drug trade will be used to educate the public on the dangers of drugs.

    It’s no surprise that Trump’s isolationist tactics of building a wall that divides Mexico and the US along with banning all Muslims from entering the country has spilled over to international drug trade. While Trump may not be the most detailed oriented candidate, he redundantly insists that our jobs are being taken away by China and Mexico — including the esteemed title of ‘drug czar’.

    Under President Trump, if drug lords are to be created, they better be made in the USA — and how can you blame him? Our drug dealers have been outsourced to other countries for far too long. If America hopes to create the next Walter White, we must locally foster and create drug lords and keep them within our borders.

    Trump also stated we’re losing badly the war on drugs, and you have to legalize drugs to win that war. For a candidate that bases his entire brand on ‘winning,’ losing a war on drugs would severely chip away from the superhuman aura he’s manifested since he announced his run for president on June 16, 2015.

    According to Trump, getting a ‘win’ against the war on drugs starts with complete legalization of all drugs.

    Now that Trump has shifted from business man to a political Frankenstein created by the GOP and the media, his stance on marijuana has slightly shifted. In a November interview with GQ last year, Trump states ‘[marijuana for] medical purposes for medicinal purposes it’s absolutely fine.’

    While his stance on marijuana may seem to change, his belief that the ‘war on drugs’ is a joke has not. On ABC’s ‘This Week,’ Trump told host Martha Raddatz that the country is doing a ‘poor job’ policing drugs; specifically, “We don’t want to do anything. And if you’re not going to want to do the policing, you’re going to have to start thinking about other alternatives.”

    But it’s not something that I would want to do. Don’t worry, I speak double-talk Trump — let me translate. Donald Trump simply restated his 1990 position on the War on Drugs however the semantics have shifted to him exploring ‘other alternatives’ to alleviate this problem.

    In that same statement, Trump insists that we (he) doesn’t want to do anything about the ‘war on drugs’ solely because he believes the enforcement isn’t working. Of course the only remaining ‘other alternative’ to his proposal is something that he’s reiterated in the past, complete drug legalization.

    Presidential candidates tend to swing far right/left early on to appeal to their party’s core demographic in order to be their respective party’s nominee. Once the country is left with two candidates, both shift towards the middle to appeal to voters in the opposing field.

    That’s just the way the political game has been operating for as long as any CNN talking head can remember.

    Could Trump’s recent shift in his stance on marijuana be an objective attempt to garner key votes in his party? Of course it is.

    In 2004, Trump told CNN’s Wolf Blitzer that he identifies ‘more as a democrat’ and that it “seems that the economy does better under the Democrats than the Republicans.”

    Therefore Trump dipping to a more liberal center if/when he becomes the Republican nominee doesn’t seem that unreasonable.

    That tilt towards the center would also reflect his previously held stance on drug legalization. Compared to current field of presidential candidates, Trump has held the most radical stance against the enforcement of marijuana and other drugs for for the longest duration.

    According to a 2012 RAND report commissioned by the White House, the organization found that $100 billion dollars a year is being generated by illegal drug trade in America, with $40 billion coming from marijuana.

    As far as the failed drug enforcement that Trump has repeatedly talked about for decades, in 2010 the federal government spent $15 billion on the ‘war on drugs’ with states and local governments spending an additional $25 billion.

    When it comes to the superfluous government spending that Trump denounces at his rallies and debates, $40 billion could be saved just from doing what he said he would do: stop the war on drugs. In fact, Trump would save 400% more from cutting federal and state level enforcement on drugs than he would from ending Common Core.

    The real question is if elected, will Trump come through on the multitude of platforms he’s been promising the American people. That’s yet to be determined.

    However, if Donald Trump’s words are to be believed as truth, then it’s clear that Donald Trump will be the biggest proponent for the legalization of marijuana in our country’s history.

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