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Israel: The Epicenter of Cannabis Research and Innovation

Israel is an OG when it comes to the marijuana game.


When you think of cannabis and innovation, Israel likely doesn’t come to mind. But as we’ve recently highlighted here on MERRY JANE, Israel is advanced when it comes to cannabis-related exploration.

Last week marked the second annual CannaTech conference, an international summit dedicated to accelerating cannabis innovation.

The three-day event held in the capital city of Tel Avi featured courses on Israel’s so-called ‘Green Rush’ including entrepreneurship, best practices in growing and research on the region’s unique relationship with cannabis. It’s easy to see Israel quickly becoming a hub for the global cannabis community – and rightfully so.

Often regarded as the world’s leading and foremost cannabis researcher, Raphael Mechoulam was the keynote speaker at CannaTech.

Mechoulam began researching cannabis (primarily CBD) in the 1960s. He soon was able to isolate cannabis’s primary psychoactive and euphoria inducing compound, THC.

His findings enabled both himself and fellow scientists to synthesize CBD and THC, paving the way to decades of pharmaceutical research and clinical trials on the efficacy and side effects of primary cannabinoids.

Today, this intersection of cannabis plant medicine and pharmaceutical research is opening the door for biopharmaceutical companies to emerge – and nearly everything is rooted in Israel.

Since the drug war began, the U.S. Government has made it notoriously difficult to research cannabis here in the States while the Israeli government has had a proactive stance on cannabis research since Mechoulam’s early days.

Israel doesn’t view cannabis with the stigma and staunch propaganda lens we see here in the U.S. That’s why American companies turn to Israeli researchers and organizations — and now Mechoulam works with some of the top U.S. companies developing cannabinoid drugs and products.

The California firm Kalytera had a profound presence at this year’s CannaTech, where Mechoulam is the head of research.

Piggybacking off of Mechoulam’s early works synthesizing cannabinoids, Kalytera seeks to create new and improved cannabis biopharmaceuticals.

According to their website: “By making systematic, incremental modifications to cannabinoid molecules, and molecules which regulate the endogenous cannabinoid signaling system, Kalytera intends to eliminate psychoactive properties, reduce or eliminate other unwanted side effects, and advance cannabinoid and cannabinoid-modulating medicines that target specific receptors, allowing for improved drug specificity in each proposed indication.”

Other presenters at CannaTech included Syqe Medical, an Israeli startup that aims to sell the world’s first metered-dose pharmaceutical grade medical marijuana inhaler.

Doctor-prescribed joints might one day become a relic of the past if cannabis technology venture Syqe Medical Ltd. has its way.,” the Wall Street Journal recently exclaimed of the startup.

It’s interesting to note Syqe just secured $20 million dollars in funding from big-tobacco giant Phillip Morris.

Even the U.S. government depends on Israel


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