Cannabis remains illegal there, yet Israel is still managing to take the global lead with regard to research into medicinal cannabis. And now researchers from other countries, blocked by legal and supply problems in their own countries, are turning to the country that got it right in spite of that, according to Jewish News Service, (jns.org).
Researchers and scientists are not the only ones looking to Israel as the leader with regard to anything related to cannabis, its benefits and development. So are governments, investors, entrepreneurs, and the media.
Medicinal cannabis research and beyond
Neither is Israeli research stopping with studying the potential medicinal benefits of cannabis. The country is also way out front when it comes to how safe and accurate medicinal doses can be given to patients. It has also taken huge strides in developing ways to breed cannabis strains which best target specific medical conditions or symptoms.
This has resulted in the production of measured-dose inhalers as well as ones capable of vaporising the finest of cannabis molecules. It’s also seen the successful breeding of cannabis strains with extremely high content of the particular cannabinoids that are required for particular diseases.
The CannaTech Conference, held in Israel during March this year, brought together speakers from around the world to represent a wide range of viewpoints on cannabis and its potential medicinal and economic benefits. Fields including medicine, science, agronomy, the media and politics were represented, as well as the viewpoints from the media, political, entrepreneurial and investment standpoints.
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Researchers backed by Health Ministry
Israeli researchers’ ability to get around the obstacles that are blocking many research efforts in other parts of the world is largely thanks to their Ministry of Health.
In spite of cannabis remaining illegal in Israel, the Health Ministry became the first (and is still the only) national body similar to the US Federal Drug Administration to approve the use of medicinal marijuana (a form of cannabis) for certain diseases. It did this back in 1992. In 2007, it went further by initiating a medical cannabis program. The program is strictly controlled, licensing individual patients and restricting the source. More than 23 000 patients are now said to be benefitting.
In other parts of the world, researchers are finding government bodies less helpful according to US researcher and psychiatrist Suzanne Sisley, one of those researchers from around the world to turn to Israel for help. She told jns.org the only legal source researchers are able to use in the US, the National Institute on Drug Abuse, was unable to supply the strain she needed to research the possible benefits of cannabis containing high CBD cannabidiols (the non-psychoactive cannabinoid) in the treatment of PTSD.
An Israeli research tradition since the 1960’s
Research into cannabis is nothing new in Israel. Medicinal cannabis and particularly the effects of the two major cannabis compounds, THC (the cannabinoid that produces a high) and CBD, have been studied there since the 1960’s. They began when Professor Raphael Mechoulam of the Hebrew University in Jerusalem first identified and isolated THC.