Israeli farmers whose farms are located in the area of the country known as “Otef Aza” (around Gaza) have begun an initiative to establish a new zone there for the growing of medical marijuana.
The people, farms and industries located within striking distance of rockets and mortars that were launched from Gaza by Hamas over the years, specifically during last summer’s conflict in Gaza have been suffering financially. This is especially true for the kibbutzim which border the Gaza Strip and where terrorist tunnels into Israel have been uncovered.
The economies of small towns in the area, such as Sderot, are still hurting. This in addition to all of the area’s residents’ security concerns.
Israel has recently liberalized its regulations regarding the dispensation and use of medical marijuana. Since marijuana is a crop which can be grown easily anywhere it makes sense that the farmers of Otef Aza are looking to it as a new crop to help their farms rebound financially.
The initiative looks to get the Israeli government to allow area farmers licenses to produce marijuana. Right now only 8 farms throughout Israel have such licensing. The new initiative represents 38 Gaza area farms.
A court ordered public auction for more licenses to grow medical marijuana is set to be held by the end of the month, but the total number of licenses to be offered at that time has not been set.
Chagit Winestock, an attorney who represents the farmers behind the new initiative, told Jewish Business News, “We feel that since 2003 the matter of licenses for growing medical marijuana in Israel has not been properly handled and we hope that the court ordered auction will settle the matter. The government of Israel has promised that it will come by the end of January and we hope that this will indeed happen.”
As the issuing of medical marijuana prescriptions increases in Israel, so will the demand and the need for more production. The farmers point out that increased competition from the expansion of the marijuana franchise will not only lead to lower prices but also to a better quality product.
All of the above benefits will of course come in addition to aiding to local economy in the south of Israel.