Israeli cannabis patients surge, but new rules face delay

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The number of new medical cannabis patients in Israel surged in November, according to the latest available data from the Ministry of Health.

However, important regulations facilitating access for new patients are facing a potential three-month-long delay because of the ongoing Israel-Hamas war.

The latest Ministry of Health data shows 3,254 new patients receiving medical marijuana licenses in November, the largest monthly increase since 2021.

The number of authorized medical cannabis patients in Israel reached an all-time high of 135,213 in November, making it one of the world’s largest markets.

Previous months saw increases of:

  • 2,193 in October.
  • 1,142 in September.
  • 1,645 in August.

While the Israel-Hamas war might have contributed to increasing demand for medical cannabis, industry sources say the war is also to blame for the regulatory delay.

“Due to the Israel-Hamas war, the anticipated implementation of the medical cannabis regulatory reform, originally scheduled for December 29, 2023, has been postponed by three months,” Israeli marijuana producer IM Cannabis Corp. said in a statement.

The company said the new regulations are designed to alleviate some of the “stringent” restrictions in the sector and will ultimately enhance access after being implemented.

MJBizDaily previously reported that the new regulations could reinvigorate growth.

“As I had said when the overhaul of the cannabis regulation was first published in August, we believed it could change the face of the medical cannabis market in Israel, facilitating the access of medical cannabis for many new patients,” said IM Cannabis CEO Oren Shuster, whose company’s shares trade as IMCC on the Nasdaq and Canadian Securities Exchange.

“We still believe this to be the case.”

Shuster said new patient growth had been slowing recently, “making this significant increase in medical cannabis licenses obtained in November remarkable.”

“We cannot currently determine if this increase is directly related to the war,” he continued. “We anticipate gaining more insights in the coming months.”

The war has affected the operations of many cannabis companies in Israel.

Employees of Israeli cannabis producer InterCure were among those kidnapped by Hamas when the militants stormed Israel’s southern border in early October.

The company didn’t immediately respond to queries from MJBizDaily.

InterCure’s shares are traded on the Nasdaq (INCR) and Tel Aviv Stock Exchange (INCR).