(April 5, 2019 / JNS) Everyone at the CannaTech conference was high—at least, on the idea that greater pharmaceutical and legal recreational usage of cannabis could soon become a reality in Israel.
A whopping 1,000 participants from 45 countries gathered in Tel Aviv for the fourth annual CannaTech conference. Fifty Israeli and international companies set up information booths, and nearly 100 corporate sponsors supported the event. Professionals from the fields of pharma, biotechnology, agriculture, medicine and business traveled to CannaTech from Africa, Asia, Europe, North America and South America to learn about the latest developments in the burgeoning cannabis industry, of which Israel plays a major role in every sector.
Former Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Barak, now chairman of the Israeli medical cannabis company CANNDOC/Intercure, a medical cannabis holding company, delivered the opening address. Quipping that “Israel is now the land of milk, honey and cannabis,” he said that the cannabis market is now at $17 billion worldwide and would grow to $150 billion and beyond in the coming years. He predicted that in the not-so-far future, one out of three people on the planet would be using some kind of cannabinoid-based product and suggested the huge industry opportunities in both the medical and recreational fields should be seized “aggressively and immediately.”
At a press briefing, Saul Kaye, CEO and founder of CannaTech and iCAN: Israel-Cannabis, told JNS, “We are an accelerator of cannabis companies. We started our incubator in order to accelerate the introduction of companies into this space.”
He said that “patients in Israel are not getting medical cannabis fast enough,” urging the government to move quicker to reform the process so that patients who need help could obtain it. He also stated that Israel “immediately needs a legal cannabis framework for the 2 million Israeli cannabis consumers.”
Yona Levy, CEO of Alvit Pharma, one of Israel’s leading cannabis companies, noted at the briefing that Alvit will be supplying E.U. countries with cannabis buds, oil and other products by the end of this year. “Alvit will be educating doctors in the use of cannabis in languages they understand. Medical cannabis use in Europe is in the beginning stages, but patient demand for the product is huge.”
He told JNS that things will move forward in Israel depending on the government. “It’s going to change. It has to come from the top. Israel does not do regulation very fast. Canada did it in a year.”
Also speaking was 13-year-old Rylie Maedler. At the age of 7, she was diagnosed with aggressive bone tumors that disfigured her face. Rylie’s mother heard about the efficacy of cannabis oil against cancer and gave it to her secretly, without the hospital knowing. Her tumors shrunk, her bones regenerated, and there has been no reoccurrence since. Thanks to her experience, Rylie helped pass a number of laws in the state of Delaware that benefit children who need cannabis as treatment. Today, Rylie’s focus is to supply quality medical whole-plant botanical oil for holistic relief of debilitating health conditions.
The young teen told JNS, “When I left the hospital, I wanted to make a law so that medical cannabis will be legal for children because I wanted to help other children live a happy life.”
Levy was optimistic that the government will eventually push forward legislation to make cannabis use easier.
He said, “On the pharmaceutical side, we are seeing movement on turning flowers and oils into products. … On the recreational side, we have [Zehut Party leader Moshe] Feiglin saying that one of his conditions for entering the government will be legalizing cannabis. … So maybe we have hope on that side as well.”
Said Barak: “I see a great future.”