Images via Nim Aronow
Nearly a decade ago, Yohai Gild Golan, an experienced cannabis pioneer and founder of the medical-grade cannabis company Better, moved from California to Israel for the opportunity to do more for the medicinal marijuana industry. You read that correctly. Although many people perceive the West Coast of the United States as the center of cannabis progressivism, the Israeli government is among the most supportive of medicinal marijuana use in the world.
“What [Israel’s] federal program allowed us to do, which we were unable to do in America, is medical research,” says Golan. “It allowed us to do actual work with doctors and hospitals, to bring agro-technology that cost a lot and put it in a greenhouse without worrying about the police coming and tearing it apart. That change, between being in an American state program and the federal national program in Israel, was all the difference. We were able to develop specific medical strains that have a unique cannabinoid, terpenoid, and a specific chemical build that can treat different ailments.”
After learning a plethora of top-notch grow techniques during his time in California, Golan’s vast education helped Israel establish its federally-approved medical marijuana program. As one of the only enterprises in the country’s newfound medical industry, Better helped build the entire cannabis program from scratch, working hand-in-hand with the strict, albeit supportive Israeli government to create a well-regulated and affordable medical system for citizens.
A Better employee in a company marijuana farm.
The process was extremely difficult and time-consuming, and undertaken without profit immediately in sight, but thanks to the support of renowned individuals like Rick Doblin, founder of the Multidisciplinary Association for Psychedelic Studies (MAPS), Golan and his company were able to help Israel construct what is now the most developed medicinal marijuana system in the world.
“In order to maintain our license under these new government policies in Israel, we had to do everything,” says Golan. “We had to develop specific medical strain genetics, we had to prove that these genetics were good and helped each ailment in order to get these ailments approved by the government. It started with cancer patients, but each time we wanted to add an ailment, we had to prove that it was OK. We had to manufacture the strains, we had to do the training of our staff and patients, we needed to do the processing and the growing, and even the post-treatment of the patient.”
Golan took his company to Israel to do the research that needed to be done.
When Better first started testing its medical treatments, such as the EP1, which is a cannabis strain developed to handle severe cases of epilepsy, the government gave the company access to strictly desperate patients. “Only those lost causes that have taken seven or eight different drugs already and nothing has worked, and modern medicine has given up on them,” explains Golan. “Now you can give them cannabis.”
The upside of such difficult cases was that Better’s incredible results with them stood out even more. “We got the worst cases, but were able to show results better than any other company in the world, up in the 80 percent and 90 percent level, which is amazing,” says Golan.
Now, with almost a decade of high quality research under its belt, Better is now preparing to share its findings with lawmakers and doctors throughout entire world. The information is especially useful in places like the United States and Europe, where their governments have refused to allow extensive research on medicinal cannabis.
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A Better marijuana farm.
“We took our proven medical treatments and medical data and then applied it to new industries, being able to support governments, regulators, and doctors as they changed the laws, and made regulations in different countries,” says Golan. “With that, we are able to give good data to lawmakers, and were able to further help patients globally with a proven treatment. Most lawmakers and doctors want to see facts, and in order to engage with local qualified partners, we have to leverage our experience, our technology, and our know-how to establish strong joint-ventures in different countries.”
At the end of the day, regardless of Golan’s thoughts on legalizing the recreational use of cannabis (which remains heavily prohibited in Israel), Better remains focused on what it does best: developing and providing treatment-specific cannabis strains to those who need it most.
“We want to do it right,” says Golan. “We don’t want to be just another medical cannabis company that has every strain possible. That’s not our goal. We’re not a recreational company, we’re not here to get people high, we’re here to give them a specialized treatment for their ailments. We’ve learned that specific strains can cure different types of cancer, but not all cannabis cures cancer. With this knowledge, we’re now starting to look at bringing our different treatments that have been proven in Israel to the U.S.”