From groundbreaking medical discoveries to innovations in technology and agriculture, it’s clear that Israel the world’s ground zero when it comes to medical cannabis. They have been at the forefront of cutting edge research for decades now, and the world can learn significant lessons from Israel.
We owe most of what we know about cannabis today to Dr. Raphael Mechoulam, an Israeli chemist, who was also responsible for being the first to ever isolate and identify the THC molecule several decades ago. Dr. Mechoulam’s foray into medical cannabis research back in the 1960’s paved the way for an entire industry to grow from the plant.
These are the most important lessons the world can take away from Israel as a model of innovation and advancements in medical cannabis:
The Israeli government is supportive of the cause: The main reason why Israel is where they are today is because their government is so supportive of medical cannabis research. Additionally, the cultural landscape of Israel also makes it a cannabis-friendly country compared to the archaic policies of the American government. Israel (as well as the Netherlands and Canada), have government-sponsored programs for cannabis research. The Israeli Ministry of Health even has its own Medical Cannabis Unit.
They are innovative with technological solutions: After the cannabis plant has been grown, patients need an effective delivery system for dosage; whether it comes in the form of a patch, tablet, cigarette, or nasal spray. Israeli ingenuity has been nothing short of remarkable when it comes to innovating various high-tech solutions for administration. Teva Pharmaceutical Industries, one of the world’s biggest drug manufacturers, is bringing a first-in-class medical cannabis inhaler called Syqe to the market. Other Israeli companies have also developed sublingual tablets, which are being tested for their efficacy on Alzheimer’s disease and cognitive functioning.
They make cannabis accessible and affordable compared to pharmaceuticals: In Israel’s medical cannabis program, there are 8 companies that grow the plant and provide the medicines for patients that are registered with them. The cost of cannabis in Israel is fixed and is covered by the national health insurance policy, and is available to the patient depending on their plan. For around $100 USD a month, patients can get up to 20 or 100 grams depending on their health needs. The government makes it easier for them, and none of the fears that prohibitionists try to plant in our head are happening in Israel: no traffic fatalities, no dumb people, no psychosis, and the very thread of their society is intact.
Their religion encourages them to heal the world: “Tikkun olam” is a Jewish concept that translates to “healing the world”; it is also the name of one of the biggest cannabis grow operations in the country. Whether you’re religious or not, for Israeli culture and society, it’s part of the national ethos for them to help the disadvantaged and sick. Also, many people believe that the phrase in the Old Testament, “kene busim” which translates to “healing herb” was actually referring to cannabis. The Israeli government sees the bigger picture when it comes to medical cannabis; for them, it isn’t just about the money from the gold rush. The health minister even pushed for a proposal, which the government approved, which will put the availability of medical cannabis at an all-time high, so that the waiting time for patients will be much shorter.
They believe in the science behind cannabis: Dr. Mechoulam’s work has spurred dozens of other research studies into cannabis internationally, but more importantly the Israeli people believe in the study’s findings. Even though prohibitionists try to claim that cannabis isn’t healing, the science proves otherwise, and Israel listens. Aside from doing their own ground-breaking research, the government also pours money into projects that aim to study cannabis medicine, biochemistry, and cultivation; whereas in the United States its status as a Schedule 1 drug makes it difficult for researchers and doctors to even study the drug. The Israeli government even recently announced that they are going to fund more than a dozen research projects on cannabis, shelling out $2.1 million for the chosen projects.
Overall, the mindset of the Israeli people regarding cannabis is far more progressive than the United States or any other country in the world. They see cannabis as a plant; not a health or safety concern, and one with important healing properties.