While many nations struggle with the very thought of legalizing medical marijuana, Israel continues to lead the world in cannabis research and discovery. Scientists at their most prestigious institutions have banned together for the greater good of humanity, and as a positive side effect, they’ll make a whole bunch of money.
Israel has continued to pave the road for MMJ by conducting cutting edge research to determine how cannabis can help eradicate some of the world’s most heinous and complicated diseases and afflictions.
In 2015, researchers at the Technion-Israel Institute of Technology conducted a study which lead to the discovery that cannabis inhibits cancer cell growth and promotes cancer cell death.
But Israel’s interest and dominance in cannabis research goes way back to 1964 when Dr. Raphael Mechoulam first isolated THC, the dominant chemical compound in cannabis responsible for the plant’s psychoactive effects.
In 1980, Mechoulam’s team conducted early trials to study medical cannabis’ use in treating epilepsy. They found that seven out of eight patients with the disorder reduced seizures with cannabis. They expected drug companies to come running, but because of the stigma associated with marijuana at that time, they simply could not get funding. Their research stalled, but the program found new life recently with research yielding positive results under a new political climate.
So now as the rest of the world hurries to catch up, Israel is about to begin trials to treat another perplexing human condition using cannabis: Autism.
In the first experiment of its kind, Dr. Adi Eran, head of the Pediatric Neurology Department at Shaare Zedek Medical Center in Jerusalem, is planning to test 120 low- to medium-functioning autistic individuals from ages 4 to 30 years. Researchers will administer cannabis oils that are rich in CBD but do not contain enough THC to produce any psychoactive effect.
Reports have stated that the research trials will shed new light on behavioral symptoms like physical aggression and acute anxiety.
With any clinical trials and scientific discovery, like it or not, politics always find an invitation to the party. Haaretz reported that a Health Ministry subcommittee is creating a framework to allow medical cannabis as a treatment for autism. The subcommittee will also develop a definition of “severe behavioral problems.”
While all this cannabis innovation is happening, Israeli startups in the marijuana business are also enjoying a healthy new environment. Back in March, CannaTech put on a cannabis conference which attracted many attendees from Israel and abroad. It was designed to showcase the latest advancements in MMJ and featured a laundry list of speakers from financial, medical, academic, and political institutions. Syqe Medical was one of the tech venture companies in attendance; they are positioning themselves to sell the world’s first metered-dose medical marijuana inhaler.
Israel is not just leading because of their research, support from the political environment has helped to distribute cannabis to people who need it.
The government makes pot available to patients who qualify for a subsidy plan, so those who can’t afford it need not worry. Also, because Israel is a small country, there are not as many hurdles to jump over and naysayers to push aside when it comes to getting medicine.
All in all, countries around the world in the process of legalizing or decriminalizing cannabis may want to take a couple of notes from Israel.
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