Considered by many in the industry as the epicenter of cannabis research, Israel has certainly played an important role both directly and indirectly in all we know about the plant today.
In the 1950’s a young and eager scientist Professor Raphael Mechoulam focused his intrigue on cannabis. After almost 30 years of prohibition the world still did not know how or why the plant induces the ‘high’. Within a few short years Mechoulam and his team at the Weizman Institute and subsequently the Hebrew University in Jerusalem had made ground breaking discoveries.
Beginning with the discovery (and naming rights) of THC and CBD, Professor Mechoulam was also involved in the discovery of the CB1 and CB2 receptors these cannabinoids act and bind upon in the brain. It was learned that these receptors are part of the body wide receptor system (Central Nervous System) named the EndoCannabinoid System.
Discoveries have continued to flow from the Holy Land. The knowledge that (phyto)cannabinoids mimic (endo)cannabinoids produced naturally. Indeed it was in Israel that conclusions we’re drawn that the theraputic effect of cannabis is less about pharmacological change (as with traditional medication) and more about balancing.
Israel was one of the first to implement a medical cannabis program, and still remains the only state supported cannabis program in the world with over 30,000 approved users. The basket of conditions for which cannabis is approved include; Crohn’s disease, Ulcerative Colitis, Chronic Pain, Neurological Disorders such as Parkinson’s disease, Tourette’s Syndrome, Epilepsy, Multiple Sclerosis, PTSD, certain types of cancer, infectious disease like HIV/AIDS, and palliative care.
In 2016, the Israeli government passed radical cannabis reform enabling the fast growth of an exciting industry. The innovation startup nation is well placed to make significant impact in the clinical trials, medical device, agtech and many other industry sectors cannabis requires as part of its lifecycle.
Today there are hundreds of researchers and entrepreneurs working on exciting strains and technologies to better understand and optimize the use of cannabinoids.