Medical marijuana is on track to become a booming industry in Israel, with 36 Israeli companies now doing clinical research on cannabis, according to a report in the Economist.
That figure comes from Saul Kaye, the CEO of the venture fund and technology incubator iCAN.
Israel’s health ministry is licensing a list of about 100 doctors to prescribe the drug, and regular pharmacists will be able to stock it.
What’s more, in August, the agriculture minister announced that local growers will soon be allowed to export their crop.
There’s a reason why medical marijuana research is blossoming in Israel, even though the country’s right wing government is against legalization of marijuana for recreational use.
Israel’s strong agricultural and medical sectors, combined with its reputation as “startup nation” have primed it for developing marijuana for medical use.
What’s more, wrote the Economist, it has a 60-year head start on the United States where marijuana research is just beginning.
While the United States is just beginning to review laws that hamper research with an eye to possibly changing them, Israeli scientists have been looking into the topic for decades. Raphael Mechoulam, considered the father of cannabis research, is an Israeli professor at the Hebrew University of Jerusalem.
Israel researchers are looking into uses of medical marijuana for a range of conditions beyond pain relief, such as Alzheimer’s disease and Tourette’s syndrome.
Naomi Zeveloff is the former Middle East correspondent of the Forward, primarily covering Israel and the Palestinian Territories.