Article by Mia Rafalowicz-Campbell, Geektime
Medical Cannabis (MC) is fast moving from the underground of niche research to a vibrant sector that is attracting significant attention across the globe. Interestingly, Israel has become recognised internationally as a leader in the MC field, taking charge of much of the research that is laying the ground for the next generation of development. Since 1964, when Dr. Raphael Mechoulam first identified THC as the main psychoactive component of cannabis, the country has been at the forefront of MC research, and today research is carried out at Hebrew University, the Technion, the Volcani Center, and Ariel University.
Unsurprisingly, 2016 has been a particularly big year for MC in Israel. Two international MC events, the CannaTechinnovation summit in March, and the Cann10 conference in September have brought investors, entrepreneurs, and even faces from the pharmaceutical industry to explore the scene here.
In between these two events, the MC regulatory system underwent a seemingly significant change. MC has been legal in Israel since the 1990s, and there are currently about 26,000 patients with a license for its use, but a policy passed in June set the stage for even more dramatic reform. iCAN, the organisation behind CannaTech,summarised the changes as:
1. Cannabis-based medications will be sold and distributed in pharmacies
2. Calls to increase the number of physicians able to prescribe medical cannabis
3. Standard physician prescriptions will be used for patients to acquire medical cannabis from a pharmacy
4. Opening up the market of approved grow operations in Israel
Beyond research and regulation, industry has also flourished. Ofer Spottheim, General Manager of MC incubator Cann10, told Geektime about the success of the Cann10 conference. “We had more than 625 people, and about 100 overseas guests from 20 countries.”