What's the deal with Israel and Cannabis?

Often, people are confused and amazed to learn that Israel has a strong cannabis program. They wonder how this small country in the Middle East can possibly be involved in cannabis. 

The history of Israel and Cannabis is storied and exciting. It all begins with a newly minted Ph.D. looking for something to study. While cannabis has been used in times before the common era, people didn’t know what compounds were in the plant until the 1960s. Dr. Raphael Mechoulam, an immigrant to Israel, started research the cannabis plant and Weizmann University. It is at this Israeli university that Dr. Mechoulam looked into the cannabinoids, which are varying groups of molecules that make up the cannabis plant. The most famous of which and the ones that Dr. Mechoulam separated are THC and CBD. As the first person to discover these two cannabinoids he is credited with being the Father of Marijuana.

Israel was the birthplace of cannabis research, but Israel’s cannabis history doesn’t end there. The quick rundown:

In the 1990s medical marijuana was permitted in Israel. Few countries at this time recognized the benefits of marijuana and Israel had a medical marijuana program before most states in the U.S. It is in the early 2000s that the Israeli army started using THC to help soldiers and vets suffering from PTSD. 

We cut to now, in which the Israeli government gives dozens of grants each year with the sole purpose of researching cannabis. 

Israel currently holds over 22,000 patents on cannabis. We compare this to the US which has approximately 500. To add, it is still difficult to research cannabis in the united states, especially when trying to prove benefits and not negatives. 

Currently, there are over 100 clinical trials in Israel on a variety of illnesses. There are also over 60 cannabis related startups testing new ways to cultivate, extract, ingest, etc. cannabis. 

Israel shows no signs of slowing down and the cannabis industry is thankful. 

At the America Israel Cannabis Association, we want to expand on this storied history by focusing on our mission; to foster collaboration, opportunity, and support between North American and Israeli cannabis companies and individuals. If we can help you achieve your cannabis goals as a researcher, individual, startup, established company or anything in between, please let us know. 

Sara Gluck