Israeli scientist Professor Raphael Mechoulam initiated research on marijuana in the 60’s using a stash of cannabis confiscated by the police. Today, five decades later, he can eventually see the fruit of his labor, as some believe Israel is taking the lead in the medical marijuana arena on research, protocol and product development.
Professor Mechoulam, laid the foundations for the medical marijuana industry, it took five decades for the world to catch on
The New York Times reports on the Israeli government buying into the medical marijuana industry “big time” with the hope of gaining export revenue.
Different government departments are coming together to make medical cannabis happen in Israel. The Department of Agriculture is building a research center for medical marijuana, while the Ministry of Economics is funding innovative cannabis start-ups, much like the Israeli government fueled the tech boom of the 90’s.
Research is being encouraged; doctors are being trained and given authority to prescribe medical marijuana. The number of licensed growers became unlimited. The government collaborated with the Ministries of Health, Justice, Agriculture, Finance and Internal Security.
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Internationally acclaimed protocol
The Health ministry compiled medicinal protocols in what is called the “Green book”, on medical marijuana. It has become internationally renowned and sought after as an example that can be applied in other countries.
The government is taking the lead, working faster than the private sector on becoming not only the most knowledgeable as scientific experts on medical marijuana, but also the first country to cash in on export. It is setting standards on cultivation, storage and use of medicinal marijuana.
Preserving the knowledge base
Dr. Michael Dor, senior adviser to the medical marijuana unit of the Health Ministry, says dozens of clinical trials have been approved. This will keep the specialists in the country. The knowledge base is astounding, as some of the best marijuana scientists in the world can be found in Israel, not only Prof. Mechoulam, now 86. He still acts as a consultant to the Ministry of Health and collaborates with researchers internationally. He is also on the board of Breath of Life as an advisor.
Currently, more clinical trials are conducted in Israel than in the US. Despite the medical marijuana programs of a growing number of states, it still remains illegal under federal law. That is why there is the scarcity of trials, which is ridiculous, says Mechoulam.
CEO of Breath of Life, Mr. Gedo, says many US companies are conducting trials in Israel based on his company’s ingredients.
Two international medical marijuana conferences took place in Israel this year. The Cann10 conference in Tel Aviv saw top minds in the industry sharing ideas on medicine, science, commerce and technology.
Saul Kaye, CEO of iCan: Israel-Cannabis, says there is a national awareness of medical marijuana that can’t be ignored. Fellow CEO and founder of Cannabliss, Moshe Ihea, says he hopes the market to the world will open up soon.
Good practice medicines
This is all very good news for Israel and for medical marijuana, but mostly for patients in need of good practice medicines. As Prof. Mechoulam says, medical marijuana will have to follow standard medical ways of thinking to produce drugs that are acceptable to science.