Investors Opening Eyes to Opportunity in Israel Cannabis, Including Exclusive CEO Video Interview Part #2
December 23rd, 2019
App, Exclusive, News, Top Story
There is no country on Earth that has a history steeped in cannabis research like that of Israel. Furthermore, there is no government that is more supportive of medical marijuana research than Israel. Yet, the small country has by and large gone overlooked for what it has to offer as an investment opportunity. That is until recently.
“[Israel has] broken down the barriers,” said Darryl Jones, CEO of Isracann Biosciences (CSE: IPOT) (OTC: ISCNF), in a Q&A session with CFN Media. “It’s flown under the radar for a while, but a lot of people are starting to come around and realize that Israel is a cannabis hub.”
Isracann, the first pure-play cannabis firm in Israel to list in Canada and U.S., is 100% focused on building out its fully-funded, 230,000 square-foot facility in the southern part of Israel. Isracann is working directly with Israeli Ministries and collaborating with a team of top lawyers and consultants to move the project expeditiously forward while staying onside with all regulatory processes. The company recently expanded in cultivation capacity through a new joint venture west of Be’er Sheva, Israel.
Birthplace of Cannabis Research
Dr. Raphael Mechoulam has rightfully earned the nickname the “Father of Marijuana Research.” More than 50 years ago, the Israeli organic chemist was the first person ever to isolate cannabidiol (CBD, a non-intoxicating compound in cannabis) and tetrahydrocannabinol (THC, the psychoactive component of cannabis). In the 1990’s, Dr. Mechoulam discovered that cannabinoids occur endogenously throughout the human body, making up the endocannabinoid system along with specific receptors.
Cannabinoids like CBD and THC, amongst more than 100 others, are compounds found in cannabis that act on cannabinoid receptors throughout the body, including the brain, nervous system, organs and tissue, to control a host of functions, such as pain management, the immune system, appetite and mood.
At 89 years of age, Dr. Mechoulam is still active in the cannabis space as a professor of Medicinal Chemistry at the Hebrew University of Jerusalem in Israel. His extensive body of work has earned him many awards, including a Lifetime Achievement Award at CannMed in 2016.
It is because of Dr. Mechoulam and his collaborators that scientists today are in the best position ever to understand regulation of the endocannabinoid system and what it can do for next-generation, cannabis-based medicines.
No Place Like It
Israel would not have its rich cannabis history if it weren’t for a supportive government. As discussed by Jones in the interview, Israel is the only country in the world where an organization can hold an independent research license and conduct studies on marijuana.
On top of friendly regulators, Mother Nature has blessed Israel with nearly perfect conditions for growing cannabis. Israel has 300+ days of sunshine each year, high UV rays and temperature and humidity that are ideal for growing the plant.
To that end, the country is highly regarded for its talent pool in agriculture and extensive infrastructure supportive of the industry.
This results in high-quality, low cost cannabis production.
Earlier this year, Israeli lawmakers passed legislation to allow for cannabis exports. That puts the country in elite company along with only the Netherlands and Canada as countries where cannabis exports are legal. It is expected that the framework will be in place to commence shipments in 2020.
According to Jones, the new laws will ultimately lead to Israeli technology and cannabis breaking into the European Union, getting into the hands of people that need and can benefit from it. In addition to serving the growing domestic market in Israel, Isracann has its sights set on Germany, the largest economy in the E.U. and one that has an emerging medical marijuana market.
Not Without Challenges
Jones has watched the cannabis industry in Canada unfold over the last couple decades, which brings experience to the up-and-coming market. To that point, he sees similarities between Israel and where Canada was 4-5 years ago. One of the biggest challenges for any emerging market is educating doctors and patients as to why cannabis can provide a therapeutic benefit.
Israelis are by no means completely unfamiliar with cannabis. In fact, the country has one of the highest per capita user rates in the world.
Currently, there are about 45,000 Israeli patients, with another 10,000 on a waiting list. The cannabis patient population is growing 10-15% annually, says Jones, which makes for a very attractive market opportunity immediately.
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