Medical Cannabis Could Dethrone Israel's Dominant Natural Gas Industry
The potential for Israel's medical cannabis industry is limitless.
Published on March 3, 2016

Why does Israel lead the world in progressive medical cannabis policy? Well, THC's discoverers Professor Raphael Mechoulam and Dr. Yechiel Gaoin were Israelis, for instance. Mechoulam and Gaoni isolated Δ9-tetrahydrocannabinol in 1964. This and other events led Israel to lead the world in medical marijuana for over 50 years. Israel's economy depends on two giant reservoirs of natural gas discovered offshore in the Mediterranean Sea in 2009. Israel's medical cannabis industry could surpass even its natural gas industry within a decade or two.

Israel has attracted cannabis enthusiasts from all walks of life. Players from both the NFL and NBA have quietly made the trail to the Holy Land to look at investing in the medical cannabis industry. It also attracted Dr. Tamir Gadot, CEO of Breath of Life. “The economic potential of growing Big Cannabis is greater than that of the gas,” he said. Ernst & Young estimates that Israel's natural gas reserves are worth $52 billion dollars, but the potential for medical cannabis could surpass even that in just a few decades. ArcView estimated that the total market potential of all combined US states at $36.8 billion. Israel's willingness to allow cannabis research could draw some major American and European investors.

Dr. Alan Shackelford, the esteemed breeder and creator of the “Charlotte's Web” strain relocated to Israel to take advantage of the looser medical marijuana restrictions in the Holy land. Shackelford, riding on a 1980 paper written by Professor Mechoulam, developed a strain with a CBD/THC ratio of 17:1. Charlotte's Web originally sold for $800 an ounce, or about four times the street value of cannabis.

“I was frustrated,” explained Shackelford, who named the strain after Charlotte Figi one of countless tots suffering from debilitating seizures.

“I saw patients taking narcotics and know that thousands of people a year suffer from the side effects of opiate use. Over the counter aspirin causes 1,000 people a year to die from stomach bleeding. I wanted to see if I could do research on cannabis in Israel – with Prof. Yehuda Baruch.”

Saul Kaye, CEO of iCAN, is using workspace in cannabis research-loving Israel. “Israel is leading the world in research and development, from the medical side to the medical devices to the agro side,” he said. “...If you’re a marketer, if you’re an online guru, if you are a tech person, if you want to develop a drug, a prescription medication, if you want to develop grow-tech, everything can be developed into this new economy.”

Philip Morris is planning on a $20 million dollar deal with Syqe Medical, who is behind a cannabis inhaler. Hundreds of other companies are looking into Israel's boundless potential as a cannabis research powerhouse.

“Israel is 10 years ahead of Europe and the US in medical research as it’s quite easy for companies to run clinical trials and research on cannabis.

The new proposal by the Ministry of Health — placing emphasis on medical research, will enable us to maintain our competitive advantage. It will infuse more investment and entrepreneurship,” said Dr. Tamir Gedo of Bol Pharma.

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Benjamin M. Adams
Benjamin Adams is a freelance writer whose work has appeared in a slew of publications including CULTURE, Cannabis Now Magazine, and Vice. Follow Ben on Twitter @BenBot11
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