If medical cannabis enters the health basket and is subsidized by the government, it is fine with me
According to a new calculation made by the Israeli Ministry of Agriculture, the price of medical cannabis is expected to rise by 400% to 40 New-Shekels (about 8 GBP) per gram, instead of only 10 New-Shekels today. This is a major problem for the seriously ill patients who receive dozens of grams a month. “This is not a regulation – it’s destruction,” they say, warning they will submit a petition to the High Court of Justice and start to home-grow illegally.
Over the past year, the Ministry of Health has expressed several times their dissatisfaction for the quantities of medical cannabis consumed by patients in Israel. Among other things, the managers of the Medical Cannabis Unit claimed that it is “technically impossible to consume more” than 150 grams of cannabis per month.
As many of the medical cannabis patients have feared, it is now seems that the drug reform, in which the cannabis will be sold in pharmacies, will lead to a sharp rise in prices – forcing those who have prescriptions to pay huge sums for the drug, thus reducing the number of patients in light of allegations made by the Minister of health, Yaakov Litzman, who claims that the number of cannabis patients in the country is too large.
Today, all medical cannabis patients in Israel pay 370 NIS a month, regardless of the amount of cannabis they receive. The monthly average is 32 grams a month, according to the Health Ministry data, which means that on average the patients pay between 10 and 15 shekels a month per gram of medical cannabis.
The issue of payment for medical cannabis will receive a drastic change, according to a new calculation by Ministry of Agriculture officials that the cost of medical cannabis is expected to rise by hundreds of percent – up to 30-40 NIS per gram, or even more.
Up to 4,000 NIS a month – instead of only 370
This estimation is based on a new calculation made by the Ministry of Agriculture that the price that the farmer will sell the medical cannabis to the packaging factories will be 10 NIS per gram, and the factories will purchase the material with a profit of at least 30% that will be charged. The distribution and transportation companies will be allocated an additional 10% for their service.
But the most significant increase will be derived from the sale stage at the pharmacies: Super-Pharm, for example, is expected to earn an additional 60% before the sale stage, which will raise the price to 30-40 NIS. Even if we assume that the price of cannabis per farmer has decreased significantly and will reach a dumping price of 2 NIS per gram, the cost of linking all the links in the supply chain will still leave the prices within the range indicated.
According to this figure, a person who holds a license for only 20 grams of cannabis per month, and pays 370 NIS for that service, will be forced to pay, for the same quantity, at least 600 shekels a month. Those who receive 50 grams a month and now pay only 370 NIS will have to pay over 1,500 NIS. Those who hold a license for 100 grams a month or more will have to pay up to 4,000 NIS a month or more.
“It is a blow for the patients – they will begin to grow at home“
“If medical cannabis enters the health basket and is subsidized by the government, it is fine with me,” says Shlomi Sandak, the patient representative and director of the clinic for medical cannabis. “However, until medical cannabis enters the basket, if at all, I expect waves of petitions to the High Court of Justice to allow patients to grow cannabis alone in their homes. This will force patients to find another source of their drug and it is likely that many will start growing cannabis at home. ”
“How can you force a patient to spend all of his income on something he can grow himself for free at home,” adds Sandak. “There is no doubt that such a move could also encourage leakage of the material, because the higher the price of the Cannabis will be in the health system – the higher the price on the black market, and the more worthwhile it is to sell…A patient who spends thousands of shekels every month for their cannabis will have to sell part of it just to reduce significant financial losses.”
Major industry sources have said: “If this is indeed what will happen, it is very serious. The medical cannabis in Israel is sold at the lowest price in the world today, and this reform can do an extreme harm to patients. If for nearly a decade companies have managed to survive and grow at current prices, there is no reason why prices should jump by hundreds of percent. ”
“When people start cannabis therapy, it is only after they finish treatment with conventional drugs, so they pay for regular medicine at the same time, so it is likely to assume there will be patients who will have to give up cannabis,” they added. “And also, when the price rises, it may increase the risk of leakage to the black market, since the patients will have to finance their lives. There was no such thing that a drug price rose by hundreds of percent one bright morning.”
The Israeli Health Ministry refused to comment on this article.
Originally published in Weed World Magazine Issue 129