The Israeli government has kicked off a new program that will make medical cannabis products more affordable and cut down the country’s reliance on cannabis imports. The pilot program was announced by Health Minister Yuli Edelstein and Deputy Health Minister Yoav Kisch on Sunday. In an effort to alleviate the financial burden on Israel’s medical cannabis patients, the program will subsidize medical cannabis products to around half their current prices effectively immediately until the end of 2020.

The program seems to be addressing some of the issues caused by Edelstein’s predecessor, Ya’acov Litzman’s 2018 reforms. Since they were enacted, they have been widely criticized for causing long lines, reduced product quality, and major product shortages. These reforms ended up turning Israel, once a major medical cannabis exporter, into one of the world’s largest cannabis importers.

Under the pilot program, companies in the Israeli medical cannabis space will have to offer their products at a discounted rate of NIS 140 ($41.45) per ten grams for adults and NIS 100 ($29.61) per ten grams for children. Additionally, cannabis companies will only be allowed by the ministry to export after they have reduced domestic prices and demonstrated they have enough inventory to supply local markets.

Health Minister Yuli Edelstein said in a statement that after medical cannabis consumers had to pay huge sums for the drug, he was glad they’ve started the product discounting process. “Much more work is needed to make the price accessible and reduce it further even after the pilot period and we will do so.” Deputy Health Minister Yoav Kisch stated after the announcement that he was “pleased” that they could address what he describes as the most urgent problem in need of fixing within the industry, price.

“This is an experimental pilot of three months that will provide an immediate price reduction with a continuous supply of inventory while opening up the export market to cannabis companies in the State of Israel. The success of the move and the burden of proof depend on the manufacturers. If the inventories and low prices are maintained, so will the ability to export after the pilot,” he says.

The move to reduce prices and increase local production and supply has been met with approval from Dr. Dadi Segal, CEO of Panaxia, Israel’s largest medical cannabis company, who announced that Panaxia’s price changes will start on Monday. “This is good news for the entire Israeli economy, for the companies that operate in it and for medical cannabis patients in Israel, which will subsequently have greater access to quality products at subsidized prices.”

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