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For decades, Israel has pioneered much of the cannabis research that powers the industry today — and is the home of the “godfather of cannabis” Raphael Mechoulam who first isolated THC at the Hebrew University of Jerusalem in 1964. Through the years, Israel’s parliament has repeatedly passed legislation that has opened up the market by allowing medical cannabis and decriminalizing home use and possession of small amounts, and the country is taking steps to become a major exporter of medical cannabis.

So it came as little surprise when in November, Israel announced that it was moving forward to implement legal recreational cannabis by mid-to-late 2021. Lawmakers will soon be voting on bills to legalize adult sales (over 21), allow possession of up to 15 grams, and decriminalize possession of up to 50 grams. Some dispensary format will be authorized, and although home growing will not be allowed at first it will be on the table at a later date.

This would make Israel the third country, behind Canada and Uruguay, to fully legalize and make cannabis available for adult use. (Unless Mexico goes first, in which case it becomes fourth.) Already, Israel has the world’s highest ratio of cannabis users, with 27 percent of the population between 18 and 65 having used cannabis in the last year. This compares to Iceland at 18 percent, and the US at 16 percent. The new legislation is, in fact, being modeled after Canada’s federal laws.

In addition, just before Israel’s last elections, Prime Minister Netanyahu sent out a tweet that he supports clearing the criminal records of all Israelis arrested for possession and use. Perhaps as a further sign of his commitment, he sent it out at 4:20 PM.

So there has been record action on the Tel Aviv Stock Exchange over the past weeks, with large run ups in the stocks of medical cannabis companies. There are an estimated one million recreational cannabis users in Israel today, and legalization to allow cannabis stores as a supplement to retail pharmacies is expected to double the market capitalization from 2.5 million shekels ($771 million dollars) to 5 million (over $1.5 billion dollars) annually. (Industry insiders estimate that roughly 7 billion to 9 billion shekels are spent yearly on the black market — that’s $2.1 billion to 2.7 billion dollars.)

Of course, Kanna Knowledge will keep you posted on how things progress.