By Ryan Allway, April 15th, 2019 —
Israel decriminalized adult use cannabis on April 1 — just days before the Jewish state’s April 9 election. The new law makes it legal for Israeli citizens to possess homegrown marijuana plants, while carrying small amounts of cannabis in public will only result in a fine rather than an arrest. The move follows similar legislation across roughly 25 other countries that have legalized cannabis to some extent — ranging from decriminalization to full recreational use.
While the country is smaller than North American cannabis markets, it has already been established as a research capital and could become a gateway to European markets. Dr. Raphael Mechoulam is widely known as the Godfather of Cannabis after discovering tetrahydrocannabinol and paving the way for medical cannabis research. Cannabis research was legal in Israel long before other countries liberalized their laws.
Israel’s unique location could also make it a key gateway to European markets. The government recently legalized cannabis exports earlier this year and analysts believe that regulations could be in place later this year. As a home to more than 740 million people, Europe is roughly double the size of the Canadian and U.S. markets, which represent the two largest legal cannabis markets in the world right now.
Investing in Israel’s Cannabis Industry
ISRACANN Biosciences Inc. [Canadian Listed: IPOT (Pending)] will be Israel’s first pure-play cannabis company to list on a Canadian exchange, with a fully-funded facility of 232,900 sq. ft. With plans to initially target the domestic market before exporting into Europe, investors may want to keep an eye on the stock as it gears up to go public in Canada under the ticker symbol IPOT later this year.
With over 15 years of experience in the capital markets, President and CEO Darryl Jones took True Leaf Medicine public at a $10 million valuation and exited in 2016 with a $150 million market capitalization. He’s joined by an experienced team of cannabis and finance veterans with an established track record of success. The company will also partner with leading Israeli research institutions and universities to leverage their expertise in the market.
The company is well positioned in Israel via its agreements with three farms with cultivation licenses. These operations have a fully-funded capacity of 232,900 sq. ft. with the ability to produce 23,500 kilograms of cannabis per year. Management believes these operations can be further scaled to produce 50,000 kilograms per year with a low production cost of just 40 cents per gram given the unique climate and technologies.
What’s Next for Israel’s Cannabis Market?
It is anticipated that new guidelines will enable more patients to purchase cannabis at pharmacies with a prescription. Currently, the law is restricted to patients suffering from Parkinson’s, epilepsy, cancer, and other terminal illnesses, which has limited demand. The new law is expected to go into effect imminently.
Over the longer-term, Israel appears to be moving closer to a fully-legalized cannabis market. Mainstream political parties have been supportive of cannabis legalization and there’s widespread demand from the public for reforms. Decriminalization and wider medical cannabis use are a great first step, but the country’s cannabis market won’t realize its true potential until adult-use cannabis is legalized and export laws go into effect. Fortunately, Israel legalized exports in January 2019, initiating a massive catalyst for the Israeli market.
ISRACANN Biosciences Inc. [Canadian Listed: IPOT (Pending)] plans to become fully operational in the near-term with initial harvests expected by the first quarter of 2020. Given the strong valuations across North American cannabis companies, investors may want to keep a close eye on the stock ahead of its listing on a Canadian Stock Exchange later this year. The unique exposure to Israel’s market and the potential to expand into Europe are key catalysts.