Israel's recent decision to allow the cultivation, manufacturing, and export of medical marijuana has kicked off a green rush in the country, with almost 500 businesses applying for licenses. Investors from around the world have invested over $100 million into Israeli medical marijuana startups, and Israeli researchers have used some of this funding to conduct over 100 studies on medical uses for cannabis.

Saul Kaye, chief executive of Israeli research center iCAN, believes that new medical marijuana research startups can bring as much as $1 billion in investments into the country. “Why is Israel leading the world? A key reason is that we have the history,” Kaye said. “We have the oldest medical marijuana program here, which started in 1996 officially. Another reason is a broad acceptance across all Israeli demographics because it is seen as helping people.”

“Cannabis is a spectacularly pharmaceutically active botanical,” said William Levine of CannRx, a new marijuana research company. “What we are trying to do is identify which parts of the plant are effective [for different conditions] and improve their efficacy. We have already identified very potent cannabinoid profiles which have specific applications to certain conditions like sleep problems, pain and appetite control, and issues associated with Parkinson’s and other neurodegenerative conditions.”

Aharon Lutsky, chief executive of Tikun Olam, Israel's oldest medical cannabis clinic, believes that usage of medical marijuana “will increase dramatically. It is a very good medicine with minor negative effects, which is already helping with the treatment of a large number of diseases. When I look at public opinion, five years ago it was against its use, with even patients hesitant. Now it is regarded as very legitimate.”