CANNAINVESTOR Magazine December / January 2016 - Page 110

As individual states across the US loosen their grip on decades of cannabis prohibition, the world has a front row seat to the birth, and the inevitable growing pains, of a new multi-billion dollar cannabis economy. The recreational cannabis market is hitting some major developmental milestones and is no doubt a force to be reckoned with. As early as January 2018, anyone with a valid ID proving that they are of legal age to purchase, will be able to buy just about any version or variation of cannabis in eight different states across the greater United States. There is no mistaking: the commercialization of “Big Pot” has arrived.

As Israelis operating in the cannabis space, we have an interesting vantage point from which to watch the “wild rec” story unfold. While the US market most definitely informs social trends, the big waves rippling through the US haven’t, and likely won’t, affect the local market here in Israel. Although medical cannabis has been federally legal here for over three decades, Israel doesn’t have, and is making no moves, to create a recreational cannabis market. It’s strictly medical...with the promise of export on the horizon.

Two radically different approaches to cannabis.

Patients and their medical conditions are the fuel behind Israel’s local cannabis market. Borne to create real medicine for real diseases, Israel’s legendary research scientists continue the work they began in the early 60’s, driving data and finding solutions to some of the most fundamental questions in the field of cannabis medicine. Government funded research is the driver of the Israeli cannabis market, heavy handed in the R&D department with special focus on plant genetics, ag-tech and clinical research.

“In Israel, agriculture is hi-tech,” said Nirit Bernstein, PhD in a recent interview with CannaTech at her office at the Volcani Institute. The depth of study and research being done on the cannabis plant is stunning.

It is the absence of the noise that a recreational market produces that allows for a whole lot of science to unfold, and unfold quickly. Blessedly, other countries like Canada, Spain and the Czech Republic are actively involved in cannabis research and are adding to the collective body of scientific knowledge. But you’d be hard pressed to find a state with a more supportive environment towards medical cannabis study, active government funding and decades of maturity in the field.

iCAN doesn’t see Israel as a competitor in a global race towards cannabis dominance as the media often likes to spin it - but we do see Israel as she always has been; data driven, with extensive expertise in R&D, science, ag, and hi-tech. Eventually, even a ‘pseudo-medical’ market will need validation of their products.