It was a “high-dea” that brought Garyn Angel to Israel, he said. Angel, a Florida businessman, created Magical Butter, a machine that extracts marijuana and other botanicals into butters and oils.
His invention, which looks like a large silver kettle, was on display in Tel Aviv in front of a room full of doctors, investors and entrepreneurs at Cannatech, an annual conference of medical marijuana innovation in Israel’s White City on March 20 to 22.
As Angel threw out T-shirts and bright green oven mitts, he advised the crowd to “see what it’s like to live infused,” which the audience members would get to do as soon as lunchtime rolled around when Angel promised to distribute samples of pot-laced salad dressing, barbecue sauce and hot sauce.
Cannatech’s participants traveled from far and wide to attend the three-day conference, paying between $600 and $1,600 per ticket to hear from medical marijuana’s leading lights.
Israel is trailblazer in the medical marijuana industry. While doctors in the United States face bureaucratic hurdles to studying the herb, Israeli researchers are conducting the first clinical studies to test marijuana for a range of ailments, such as autism. In the coming months, Israel is poised to approve medical marijuana for export, which could bring in $1 billion in the next two years, according to estimates of industry experts.
Cannatech’s international attendees came to learn from Israeli experts, swap ideas, and bring medical marijuana know-how back home.
The conference featured Israeli policy makers, like Likud parliament member Sharren Haskel, an advocate of decriminalization and Yuval Landschaft, the director of the medical cannabis unit at the Israeli Ministry of Health.
It also showcased Israeli innovation. Netafim, the Israeli company that invented drip irrigation, one of Israel’s biggest “hasbara” or public relations talking points, gave a presentation on the challenges of growing cannabis.
International companies like Magical Butter and Leaf, based in Colorado, which created the first smart-phone controlled grow system, exhibited their wares.
At the close of the conference, Cannatech guests were treated to a performance by Hadag Nahash, an Israeli hiphop group that called for marijuana legalization with its 2014 collaboration with Infected Mushroom, “Legal Eyes.”
Naomi Zeveloff is the Middle East correspondent of the Forward, primarily covering Israel and the Palestinian Territories.