How Israel’s Inspired By Silicon Valley’s Billion Dollar Cannabis Industry

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January 2018 marked a drastic change in cannabis culture as we know it, with cannabis becoming legally available to all adult residents of California, irrespective of medical need. But with the state still suffering the aftermath of the Napa fires — and its consequent multimillion-dollar destruction of cannabis crop, there’s potential for a top up from an unexpected place. Israel is often called Silicon Wadi, home to tech innovation in the middle east, but its current round of exports is focused on the green dollar. Well, it hopes to be, that is if the Israeli government will give approval for exports of cannabis sooner rather than later.

Mati Broudo, the founder of the Israeli hospitality group R2M and investor and co-owner of Better, a medical cannabis startup, is concerned about the government regulations and the impact they’ll have on this burgeoning market. “Everything is political in Israel,” he said. “It’s a young country and there’s a lot of energy, but you have [to get through the legal process].I invested because the market [has huge growth] and it’s expanding quickly.”

In February 2018 the Israeli marijuana industry took action by taking the Israeli government to quicken the export reforms. “If exports aren’t approved, cannabis producers in Israel won’t be able to sustain themselves economically because growing cannabis for only domestic production in Israel isn’t profitable,” Hagit Weinstock, a lawyer representing marijuana cultivators and investors told MJBiz Daily. “We want it approved by April.”

January 2018 marked a drastic change in cannabis culture as we know it, with cannabis becoming legally available to all adult residents of California, irrespective of medical need. But with the state still suffering the aftermath of the Napa fires — and its consequent multimillion-dollar destruction of cannabis crop, there’s potential for a top up from an unexpected place. Israel is often called Silicon Wadi, home to tech innovation in the middle east, but its current round of exports is focused on the green dollar. Well, it hopes to be, that is if the Israeli government will give approval for exports of cannabis sooner rather than later.

Mati Broudo, the founder of the Israeli hospitality group R2M and investor and co-owner of Better, a medical cannabis startup, is concerned about the government regulations and the impact they’ll have on this burgeoning market. “Everything is political in Israel,” he said. “It’s a young country and there’s a lot of energy, but you have [to get through the legal process].I invested because the market [has huge growth] and it’s expanding quickly.”

In February 2018 the Israeli marijuana industry took action by taking the Israeli government to quicken the export reforms. “If exports aren’t approved, cannabis producers in Israel won’t be able to sustain themselves economically because growing cannabis for only domestic production in Israel isn’t profitable,” Hagit Weinstock, a lawyer representing marijuana cultivators and investors told MJBiz Daily. “We want it approved by April.”

“The market is all about exports, some suggest…it’s the third most profitable crop in the world, “ said Broudi. “I was convinced [of its health benefits] when I saw some data from the Technion concerning its efficacy.”

Today, commercial cannabis might grab the headlines, but the real excitement is in the medical community — both for its ability to help people and the market size. It’s illegal to import commercial cannabis into America, but if it’s FDA recognized as a medical drug (a number of Israeli companies hope to get FDA approval this year) it can be imported, as it would no longer be covered by a federal ban. When the Israeli export laws pass, pot growers can expect a big payout — but they might be losing money till then.

Yohai Golan Gild, founder, and CTO of medical-grade cannabis company Better, hopes that’s not the case. Golan moved to Israel from California due to its supportive cannabis research laws, and today Better has treated over 12,000 patients through various delivery forms: creams, vaporizers, tinctures, pills etc. The company has refined their strains to specifically target different health problems, including epilepsy, cancer, PTSD, Crohn’s disease and migraines.Golan Gild believes the Israeli mindset — that of innovation, ingenuity, and struggle — is ideal for coming up with new discoveries and innovation, a mentality he says is not the same in the states, even in Silicon Valley. The struggle, it seems, is what shapes entrepreneurs to succeed, and why Israel has a reputation as the ‘startup nation.’

“The development of medical cannabis [in Israel] is one of the most advanced in the world,” Professor Bertold Fridlender, president of Hadassah College told The Forward. According to some surveys, 27% of Israelis use cannabis, the highest number per population in the world. Over 150 research studies are being carried out right now, many of them in the clinical space. Many of these trials are being conducted by US companies on Israeli soil, as it’s a more accessible arena to study the drug.

For now, the focus is going to be on building out the current infrastructure and working on the clinical trial side.

A recent report published by the IVC Center found the majority of Israeli cannabis companies were early stage. Overall, they reported there was 68 high-tech, and 48 of those were focused in the life sciences — a large focus on aiding diseases treatment and creating medicine. In March 2018, an Israeli bill to decriminalize cannabis use in Israel was passed unanimously  and

The future looks green.

By:Zara Stone, Forbes 

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