Medical marijuana prices in Israel are likely to rise by as much as 400 percent, according to an analysis in a recent Agriculture Ministry study.
Under current policy, medical marijuana patients pay a flat rate of NIS 370 ($97) per month regardless of the amount of marijuana they receive. As patients receive an average of 33.6 grams per month, according to Health Ministry data, the average cost of a gram is approximately NIS 11 ($3).
However, a recent Agriculture Ministry report obtained by the Hebrew-language webzine Cannabis recommends that growers sell their crop to factories that package medical marijuana at a cost of NIS 10 ($2.60) per gram. The packaging factories then need to sell their packaged product to distributors at even higher cost to cover their expenses, with the distributors in turn marking up the price even higher.
At the end of the supply chain — the pharmacies that will soon be licensed to sell the medicine — consumers will likely end up paying around NIS 40 ($10.50) per gram, according to Cannabis, an almost fourfold increase over current prices.
In October, Health Minister Yaakov Litzman announced that pharmacies would be authorized to distribute medical marijuana, with the licensing process taking six months to a year.
In such a scenario, the average medical marijuana patient in Israel will end up paying NIS 1,344 ($354) for 33.6 grams per month, while patients who require 100 grams will need to shell around NIS 4,000 ($1,055), an astronomical rise from what they currently pay.
Shlomi Sendak, an advocate for patients and manager of the Israeli Medical Cannabis Clinic, told Cannabis that as the expected cost increases will come out of the pockets of sick users, “I expect a wave of petitions to the High Court of Justice in order to allow those who are ill to grow cannabis alone in their homes.
“How is it possible to force a sick person to spend all his income on something he can grow himself for free at home?” he added.
Sendak called on the Health Ministry to include medical marijuana in its “basket” of subsidized medicines, saying that such a move would effectively eliminate the impact of the cost increases for patients and prevent the possibility of them turning to alternative sources for their medicine.