Poland Legalizes Medical Cannabis

That said, it will be some time before patients have access to the drug. While Poles can now technically access medical pot, the scheme approved by the Polish Parliament that went into effect on November 1st is regressive, to say the least. Certainly compared with even other countries in Europe that are now finally admitting that cannabis is a drug with medical efficacy, the Polish experiment looks “old-fashioned.”

What Does Medical Cannabis Reform Look Like in Poland?
Like most conservative countries, Poland is sticking with a highly restrictive approach that still puts patients in the hot seat. In addition to getting a doctor’s prescription, the chronically ill must be approved by a state authority – a regional pharmaceutical inspector. They must get a license first, in other words. They must then find about $500 a month to pay for cannabis. To put this in perspective, that is roughly the total amount such patients get from the state to live on each month.

The multiple steps mean that only patients with financial resources– and an illness which is chronic but still allows them to negotiate the many government hurdles, including cost –will now be able to access medical cannabis. Unlike Germany which makes no such distinctions, Polish law now recognizes the drug as an effective form of treatment only for chronic pain, chemo-induced nausea, MS and drug-resistant epilepsy.

The heavily amended legislation also outlaws home growing. And while 90% of pharmacies will be able to dispense the drug, this is again, a technicality. Where will the pharmacies get the cannabis in the first place?

So the question remains: will this step really mean reform? There is no medical cultivation planned. And no companies (yet) have been licensed to import the drug.

This is what is clear. Much like the conversation in Georgia and other southern American states several years ago, legislators are bowing to popular demand if not scientific evidence, to legalize medical use. But patients still cannot get it – even if they jump through all the hoops.

In Poland, patients who cannot find legal cannabis in the country (which is all of them at this point) now do have the right to travel to other EU countries in search of medicine. But the unanswered question in all of this is still present. How, exactly is this supposed to work? Patients must come up with the money to pay for their medical cannabis (at local prices) plus regular transportation costs. Then they must pay sky high fees to access local doctors (if they can find them) at “retail cost” uncovered by any insurance.

The issue of countries legalizing cannabis on paper, but not in action, is a problem now facing legalization advocates in the EUThe most obvious route for Polish patients with resources and the ability to travel is Germany. The catch? Medical cannabis costs Just on this front, the idea of regular country hopping for script refills – even if “just” across the border – is ludicrous. And who protect such patients legally if caught at the border, with a three month supply?

Poland, in other words, has adopted something very similar to Georgia’s regulations circa 2015. Medical cannabis is now technically legal but still inaccessible because of cost and logistics. Reform, Polish-style, appears to actually just be more window-dressing.

And while it is an obvious step for the country to start issuing import licenses to Canadian, Israeli and Australian exporters, how long will that take?

The Next Step Of Reform – Unfettered Patient Access
While things are still bad in Poland, right across the border in Germany where presumably Polish patients could theoretically buy their medical cannabis, all is still not copacetic. Even for the “locals.” Germany’s situation remains dire. But even before legalization in March, Germany was importing bud cannabis from Holland and began a trickle of imports last summer from Canada. That trickle has now expanded considerably with new import licences this year. And presumably, although nobody is sure, there will be some kind of domestic cultivation by 2019.

At Deutsche Hanfverband’s Cannabis Normal activist’s conference in Berlin held on the same weekend as Poland decided to legalize medical cannabis, a Gen X patient expressed his frustration with the situation of legalization in general.

Oliver Waack-Jurgensen

Oliver Waack-Jurgensen is now suing his German public insurer. He expects to wait another year and a half before he wins. In the meantime, he is organizing other patients. “They [political representatives] are bowing to political expediency but completely ignoring patient needs,” says Waack-Jurgensen. “How long is this conversation going to take? I am tired of it. Really, really tired of this.”

The issue of countries legalizing cannabis on paper, but not in action, is a problem now facing legalization advocates in the EU and elsewhere who have achieved legislative victories, but still realize this is an unfinished battle. Germany is the only country in Europe with a federal mandate to cover the drug under insurance (for Germans only). And that process is taking time to implement.But even in Germany, patients are having to sue their insurance companies

Germany, Italy and Turkey are also the only countries in Europe as of now with any plans to grow the drug domestically under a federally mandated regulation scheme. Import from Holland, Canada and even Australia appears to be the next step in delaying full and unfettered reform in Europe. See Croatia, Slovenia and Bosnia. How Spanish or Portuguese-grown cannabis will play into this discussion is also an open question mark. Asking Polish patients suffering from cancer to “commute” to Portugal is also clearly unfeasible.

Unlike the United States, however, European countries do have public healthcare systems, which are supposed to cover the majority of the population. What gives? And what is likely to happen?

A Brewing Battle At The EU Human Rights Court?
While the Polish decision to “legalize” medical use is a step in the right direction, there is still a long way to go. If the idea is to halt the black market trade, giving patients real access is a good idea. But even in Germany, patients are having to sue their insurance companies. And are now doing so in large numbers. In a region where lawsuits are much less common than the U.S., this is shocking enough.

But the situation is so widespread and likely to continue for some time, that class action lawsuits – and on the basis of human rights violations over lack of access to a life-saving drug – may finally come to the continent and at an EU (international) level court.

Patients are literally dying in the meantime. And those who aren’t are joining the calls for hunger strikes and other direct civil action. Sound far-fetched? There is legal precedent. See Mexico.

And while Poland may or may not be the trigger for this kind of concerted legal action, this idea is clearly gathering steam in advocacy circles across Europe.








Kentucky Secretary of State starts task force to get medical marijuana legalized

Alison Lundergan Grimes

FRANKFORT, Ky. (WSAZ) — Kentucky Secretary of State Alison Lundergan Grimes announced Wednesday she is starting a task force to focus on a legislative proposal to legalize medical marijuana.

According to a release, the group will also study and propose potential implementation and regulation of medical marijuana.


“Too many Kentuckians are suffering from debilitating physical and mental illnesses. Most have lived with the effects of these illnesses for years. We must do more to relieve their pain and suffering, and there is significant evidence that cannabis is beneficial for these individuals, especially veterans suffering from post-traumatic stress,” Grimes said.

The task force will include members of Kentucky’s medical community, including doctors, nurses and medical administrators, as well as representatives from law enforcement and state agencies with regulatory oversight, medical marijuana advocates and military veterans.

The task force will be co-chaired by State Representative John Sims who is crafting medical marijuana legislation for the 2018 session




Altre tre news dal mondo della ricerca in campo neurologico: Cannabis e genetica


Cari lettori eccovi altre tre news dal mondo SM: oggi parleremo di Cannabis terapeutica e genetica.  Buona lettura! 

La compagnia MMJ assume un investigatore leader per condurre dei trials di fase 2 sulla Cannabis terapeutica per trattare la SM progressiva

MMJ BioScience, affiliata della società medica di ricerca sulla cannabis terapeuticaMMJ International Holdings, ha assunto un investigatore leader per condurre nuovi studi clinici che vadano ad esplorare le potenziali applicazioni terapeutiche dei cannabinoidi nella progressione della sclerosi multipla.


La Dr. Bianca Weinstock-Guttman, professoressa di Neurologia allaState University of New York at Buffalo,è la direttrice esecutiva delNew York State Multiple Sclerosis Consortium. E’ proprio lei che porterà avanti le sperimentazioni cliniche di fase 2, che sono già state approvate dall’Amministrazione degli Stati Uniti per la Food and Drug Administration (FDA), con la guida di Parexel, un’organizzazione di ricerca clinica.


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Politicians and cannabis have had a rocky relationship at best. While there have been legislators who have fought hard to promote the valued medicinal properties of cannabis, there are far more politicians in Washington and around the country who to this day continue to release inaccurate information. Recently, the Chris Christie-led Presidential Commission on Combating Drug Addiction and the Opioid Crisis released it’s findings about medical marijuana’s role in treating those addicted to opioids.


christie opposes new marijuana policies
New Jersey Governor And Head Of Presidential Opioid Commission Chris Christie

The commission of which Chris Christie is the chair believes that the legalization of cannabis would lead to addiction amongst users of cannabis products. In their argument, they reference the opioid addiction boom in the early 2000’s. In the report released days ago, Christie stated that, “there is a lack of sophisticated outcome data on dose, potency and abuse potential for marijuana.” Christie went on, “the Commission urges that the same mistake is not made with the uninformed rush to put another drug legally on the market in the midst of an overdose epidemic.”

In Christie’s remarks, no mention was made of the mounting evidence suggesting medical marijuana legalization is one way to help treat the opioid crisis affecting America. Evidence suggests that medical cannabis legalization lowers opioid hospitalization rates by nearly 25% and opioid overdoses by 13%.

The only actual statistic related to cannabis consumption that Christie addresses is the National Institute of Health’s claim that cannabis users are twice as likely to become addicted than non-users. This was a small scale study and did not take into account the differences between those who use cannabis recreationally and medically.

Christie and his commission worked hard to avoid mention of any evidence suggesting cannabis is an effective alternative to traditional medical treatments. In an effort to counteract the clear denial of facts by some politicians, those who do use medical cannabis to treat opioid addiction or other serious conditions will continue to make their voices heard publicly.


12 year old sues over marijuana policies
12 Year Old Alexis Bortell

In an effort to fight anti-cannabis propaganda, 12 year old Alexis Bortell has filed a lawsuit against Jeff Sessions claiming the federal prohibition of cannabis is unconstitutional. Bortell has epilepsy and uses a specific high THC strain of cannabis to treat the unpredictable seizures brought upon by the condition. Bortell and her family moved to Colorado from Texas in order to gain access to the medicine she so desperately needs. There were few traditional treatment options that worked for Bortell, and as she says, using cannabis “is a lot better than brain surgery.” She wants cannabis to be legalized federally so that she can return to Texas to visit family. Currently, Bortell cannot make the trip with her medicine as cannabis is illegal in Texas. Bortell’s attorney called cannabis’ inclusion in the Controlled Substances Act both “unconstitutional and irrational.”


Bortell was joined by a military veteran, a marijuana advocacy group and ex-Denver Broncos player Marvin Washington, KDVR reports. While the lawsuit will generate a national conversation about the illegality of cannabis, it is unlikely that it will have any legislative impact.

Whether it be politicians discussing its suitability as a treatment option or children suing the federal government to gain access to it, the dialogue surrounding cannabis is garnering more attention nationally. 62% of Americans have access to cannabis in some way, shape, or form. Yet many, like Alexis Bortell, still need legal access to cannabis nationally.





Debuting Today: Female-Forward Cannabis Brand Whoopi & Maya is Now On Sale in Select Marijuana Dispensaries Throughout Colorado

RMZ Colorado Whoopi
DENVER, Nov. 15, 2017 /Weed Wire/ – The female-centric cannabis brand Whoopi & Maya, which was co-founded by legendary entertainer Whoopi Goldberg and renown cannabis infuser Maya Elisabeth, is debuting its topicals and edibles at select Colorado dispensaries today.

Whoopi & Maya partnered with cannabis producer RMZ Colorado, the brand’s exclusive state licensee, to produce and package its full line of edibles and topicals in the state.

“There are so many Coloradans who struggle with menstrual pain and cramps, women who suffer in silence at work or school,” said Don Novak, CEO of RMZ Colorado. “We are so proud to bring these thoughtfully crafted Whoopi & Maya products to Colorado, as these cannabis-infused edibles and topicals are made with the finest organic herbs and essential oils specifically geared toward menstrual relief.”


Whoopi & Maya products are now available in the following Colorado dispensaries:

● GroundSwell Cannabis Boutique, Central Denver
● Sweet Leaf Pioneer, Eagle
● The Kind Room, South Denver
● Life Flower Dispensary, Glendale
● Colorado Green Stop, Eastern Colorado
● Bonfire Cannabis Company, Denver
● Simply Pure, Highlands
● Ajoya, Lousville
● MiNDFUL, Berthoud
● MiNDFUL, Colorado Springs

Here is the full line of Whoopi & Maya products:
Savor. Raw Cacao – This organic raw cacao is infused with cannabis and agave to create a delectable superfood that is both vegan and gluten free. It can be enjoyed on fruit, blended into a hot beverage or eaten straight from the spoon.

Relax. Herbal Tincture – This herbal tincture is a potent remedy blended from cannabis and healing herbs to help you relax both physically and mentally. Elderberries, red raspberry leaf, motherwort, and passionflower combine to soothe pain and discomfort associated with menstruation. This tincture can be enjoyed plain, or with the beverage of your choice: hot, cold, or sparkling.

Soak. Lavender Bath Soak – Soak away stress, pain, and inflammation with lavender, cannabis and restorative salts. This bath soak is rich in magnesium, micronutrients and other minerals that support vibrant health, with avocado and jojoba oil to nourish and rejuvenate your skin.

Rub. Body Balm – Whoopi & Maya’s in-house herbalist hand picked a matrix of herbs that healers have used for thousands of years to help with muscle cramps and blended them with cannabis to create a salve that provides unsurpassed relief. Use this luxurious body balm with a partner or during self-care to smooth away deep body aches and menstruation cramps.

More information can be found online at WhoopiAndMaya.com. Media Contact: RMZ Colorado Nora Olabi 832-419-2515 nora@mygrasslands.com

About RMZ Colorado
RMZ Colorado partners with brands that offer the highest quality health-conscious cannabis products for medical and adult-use consumers. The RMZ team has more than 25 years of combined experience in regulated retail cannabis. For more information, visit rmzcolorado.com.

About Whoopi & Maya
Whoopi & Maya is one of the fastest-growing cannabis topicals and edibles brands in California and is available in more than 300 dispensaries there. Whoopi & Maya was launched by legendary entertainer Whoopi Goldberg and award-winning edibles maker and infuser Maya Elisabeth. The company offers its signature line of herbal cannabis products blended with herbs and essential oils, formulated to provide relief for women experiencing menstrual cramps and discomfort. For more information, visit whoopiandmaya.com.




Marijuana: The Congo’s new cash crop

Before he started growing weed, Congolese planter Koti spent his days digging holes and tunnels, mining for morsels of gold. He would smoke weed — or bangi as he calls it — to overcome his fear of the darkness that he faced underground.

As a teen, he saw a tunnel collapse, trapping five fellow miners — only one was rescued. “It’s dangerous,” says Koti, of the illegal minerals trade that many eastern Congolese families depend on. “People were dying.”

The tragedy frightened him, but with no other source of income, he was back at the mine the next day. Then, in 2007, a foreign mining company kicked Koti and the other small-time miners off the land. With no other job, he bought cannabis seeds from a neighbor, planted them and, six months later, harvested a crop of cannabis that measured in the kilos. “I had no other job,” says Koti, who asked that his real name be withheld out of fear of authorities. “So I decided to start growing marijuana.”

The Democratic Republic of Congo, Africa’s second-largest nation by area, is known for nefarious trade in copper, coltan, cobalt, tin and other minerals. But now, tens of thousands of Congolese like Koti are setting their sights on a different sort of illegal resource: cannabis. The United Nations estimates that Africa produces 10,500 metric tons of cannabis — a fourth of all the marijuana in the world. Between 27 million and 53 million Africans use the drug, making up about one-fourth of all weed users worldwide. Congo, some narcotics experts believe, may produce more cannabis than almost any other African nation except South Africa.

It’s like the gold rush in America in the 1800s.

Ann Laudati, visiting professor, UC Berkeley

Ann Laudati

Marijuana farming is illegal in Congo, where the rarity of record keeping, especially in remote regions like rural South Kivu province, makes it hard to chart the exact moment when the crop’s popularity exploded. But research by University of California, Berkeley visiting professor of geography Ann Laudati suggests 60 percent of famers in parts of eastern Congo’s Kivu — and 90 percent in some locations — grow at least some cannabis. “Everyone but the priests,” is how one Congolese village priest described the prevalence of marijuana farming to Laudati.

“It’s like the gold rush in America in the 1800s,” says Laudati of the excitement of some who have set their hopes on growing cannabis.

The appeal isn’t surprising. A resilient plant, cannabis can yield multiple harvests a year, beginning six months after sowing, says Laudati. And it needs little labor beyond harvesting and drying. It offers men like Koti the chance to stay at home rather than set off to the mines, keeping families together. And unlike minerals, which are hard to come by and in limited supply, cannabis is a renewable resource. “Many people smoke it, because it gives them work strength,” says Koti. “And many more people are using it than in the past.”

But while cannabis farming comes without the physical fears that accompany mining, it carries its own share of risks, wrapped in politics from across the Atlantic. Decades of U.S. and international pressure are a key reason why cannabis cultivation is illegal in Congo. In 1961, the U.S. voted in favor of the U.N. Single Convention on Narcotic Drugs, which added marijuana to the list of drugs that were banned internationally. The way to solve America’s drug “problem” was by pinching off the global supply, or so the thinking went.

Farmers can’t receive international aid to grow an illegal crop. It also leaves them vulnerable to harassment from corrupt police officials — a threat Koti knows only too well.


Each morning, Koti treks by foot from his home through lush vegetation to the spots where he grows his cannabis, far from any roads or obvious footpaths. He does what he can to prune the plants and weed around them, but ultimately their growth depends upon the rains.

Twice a year, Koti harvests and sells to traders who come to his fields to collect. If it rains little, he winds up with as few as five 100-kilo sacks of cannabis. But when it rains well, he harvests as many as 20. Each sack goes for 150,000 to 200,000 Congolese francs ($96–$128), earning him more than a thousand dollars a year. “I use that money to pay for the school fees for my children,” says Koti, adding that in his village in South Kivu province, “many children study by means of hemp money.”

Since Koti began farming cannabis, his family no longer lives hand  to mouth — they eat twice or three times a day where they only ate once earlier. Whereas artisanal mining often requires startup capital — payments to the men who control the mineral-rich land — with marijuana, cultivators just need seeds. Koti estimates 40 to 50 percent of the families in his village now grow cannabis instead of mining or farming other crops. Once harvested and packaged, the plant is distributed and used medicinally throughout Congo. It is smoked by fishermen and hunters to pass time, by artisanal miners to ease their aches and pains, and by Rastafarians in Congo’s bustling capital, Kinshasa. Congolese men and women barter it for food, clothes, solar panels.

But the penalization of cannabis in Congo is endorsed by the U.S. at a time when many states are decriminalizing the drug at home. In Afghanistan, the U.S. has funded “alternative livelihood” programs to shift Afghan farmers away from cannabis. And in 2005, the U.S. vetoed an international attempt to “reschedule” cannabis as a less dangerous substance — a move that could have opened the doors to deregulation.

Gettyimages 870454250

In Africa, the U.S. spends $20 million annually to reduce drug trafficking, and marijuana remains top among its concerns. The State Department’s 2015 International Narcotics Control Strategy Report referenced cannabis 121 times, reprimanding African countries where cultivation is common. An earlier version of that report singled out Congo in particular, scolding authorities for failing to crack down on the trade. The State Department even warned American travelers about Congo’s cannabis in a 2015 safety report. The losers of America’s drug war in Africa are everyday farmers.

Speaking through a translator over Skype from an internet café 90 kilometers from his village, Koti recounts in his native language, Kifuliiru, how he was “5 or 6 years old” when he first saw someone carrying cannabis leaves. Curiosity piqued, “I asked my parents, ‘What was that leaf?’” says Koti, a fast talker with a smile. “They told me not to have anything to do with it.”

It wasn’t until decades later when he began growing it himself that he understood the trouble cannabis could bring. Because cannabis is illegal, “a lot of the money we get, we use for bribes — soldiers, police,” he says. A few years ago, Koti says police tracked him to the field where he grew his hemp. They raided the small storage shed where he stored his stash. They marched him to a distant police station and jailed him until he paid a 100,000 franc ($96) bribe to get out. They also kept half his harvest, “confiscating” seven sacks. Last year, he says, a similar fate befell his neighbor, who lost his entire crop to Congolese soldiers.

A Greener Future

That could change, argue experts. If Western nations like the U.S. were to reclassify cannabis as a less troublesome narcotic, cultivation could be decriminalized. Marijuana farming in countries like Congo could then thrive like it has in the U.S., where cannabis is manufactured into products ranging from fabrics, purses and bags to shampoos, oils and lotions. Nearly 40 cannabis-growing African nations might similarly benefit. Legalization is already on the horizon in South Africa, where a recent court decision will allow recreational use in private residences beginning in 2019.

“In South Africa, definitely — it’s becoming increasingly normalized,” says Dave Martin, founder of Bulungula Incubator, a rural development organization focused on farming. “It’s no longer taboo.” In South Africa’s eastern Transkei region, thousands of farmers grow cannabis in open fields. For consumers, a 5-liter bucket of cannabis — roughly a kilo — costs nearly $40.

But even in South Africa, cannabis remains illegal on paper, and it is usually middlemen — traders and sellers — who profit. Meanwhile, farmers pay the price.

Gettyimages 534429200

“There have been issues with guys going in helicopters or planes trying to kill the crops,” says Martin, of the governmental herbicide-spraying programs that wreak havoc on small-time cannabis farmers. “And it’s not the middle-class guys going to prison. It’s the poor people, and they spend weeks or months in jail.”

Martin imagines a future in which Africa might someday supply even Europe and America with weed. Light to transport, cannabis could — if free trade were allowed — transform the lives of many African farmers, he argues. “If you could just put it on a plane and send it, it would be a great source of income for farmers in Africa, who could be growing the crop for 10 times the price they’re getting now,” he says.

If Congo were to legalize pot, Koti says it would reduce the stigma that surrounds the drug, leading more people to use it, increasing demand. Besides, if cannabis were legal, Congo’s government could tax it, helping to diversify Congo’s national budget, which remains dangerously dependent on the price of minerals.

But such a rosy future is not guaranteed. In Congo, legislators have yet to make any serious attempt to legalize the crop, and Congolese authorities who profit from its illegality by confiscating harvests from growers like Koti have every incentive to maintain the status quo. And legalization, if not implemented strategically, could wind up reinforcing existing inequalities. “When it becomes legal, the question is, who’s going to make the money?” says Martin. “Do we just reinforce the existing patterns, or do we use it as a tool to drive commerce to people who really need it?”

Governments ought to legalize weed in phases, says Martin — first granting licenses only to rural, small-time growers like Koti to give them a leg up before larger companies like those that have begun conquering the U.S. weed market in recent years catch up. Otherwise, he warns, the market could become dominated by companies whose owners have capital to invest in big-time production that poor rural farmers can’t match.

In the meantime, Koti says he has no choice but to assume the risks that come with farming weed. “Even if you are being arrested from time to time, growing hemp is good because it makes money,” he says. And unlike mining, he points out, Congo’s green gold “won’t kill you.”






Kentucky must legalize medical marijuana in 2018, secretary of state says

U.S. Marijuana Party Kentucky


Thomas Novelly, Louisville Courier Journal

Could legal medical marijuana be on the horizon in Kentucky?

Kentucky Secretary of State Alison Lundergan Grimes said Wednesday she wants to legalize medical marijuana in the Bluegrass State by 2018.

A task force, led by Grimes, will also study and propose potential implementation and regulation processes.

In a statement, Grimes said, “2018 is and must be the year when Kentucky finally steps up on medical marijuana. We have to get this done to help Kentuckians who are hurting.”

Judge to medical marijuana users: Talk to lawmakers about legalization, not me

State Rep. John Sims, D- Flemingsburg, will co-chair a task force alongside Grimes the statement said.

“Kentucky is getting left behind on this issue. Already 29 states and the District of Columbia have enacted medical marijuana legislation to help their people,” Sims said in the announcement. “The research is done. The studies have…

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Burying our heads in the weeds

U.S. Marijuana Party Kentucky

LEO Weekly

By Aaron Yarmuth

We have a weed crisis in this country.

Weed needs to be legalized as soon as possible. Nationally, sure. But in Kentucky, a poor state with a pension crisis, there should be no hesitation in mining this (green) gold rush.

For the first time, real data proves that the weed industry is an emerging economic boon, and its social impacts are not what detractors would like you to believe.

A recent Washington Post article — real news — revealed the overwhelmingly positive economic impact the marijuana industry has had in Colorado, where weed was legalized and began selling commercially Jan. 1, 2014. According to the state-commissioned study by the Marijuana Policy Group, the industry generated $2.4 billion in economic activity in 2015, including the creation of 18,000 new, full-time jobs.

To be clear, this does not mean that Coloradans and weed-seeking tourists spent $2.4 billion of their…

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Israel to become 3rd biggest exporter of medical cannabis

Israel is set to become the world’s third biggest exporter of medical cannabis, as the global market is set to reach $33 billion in the next seven years. 



Its government has estimated sales abroad would rake in $1.1 billion a year for the Middle Eastern country.

Bio-tech companies based there are preparing to expand production of the drug to meet rising global consumer demand.

One is Breath of Life Pharma (BOL), which is about to open the world’s largest medical marijuana grow-house and research centre in central Israel.

The one-million-square-foot facility will allow the firm to store enough medical cannabis to supply the entire US, according to its chief executive Dr Tamir Gedo.

Dr Tamir Gedo.

He estimates that BOL will produce 80 tons – more than 175,000 pounds – per year, according to a news statement on its website.

It comes after Israel’s government gave the go-ahead in February to legislation permitting export of the drug.

Agriculture Minister Uri Ariel

Agriculture Minister Uri Ariel has previously said that by next year the country will join the Netherlands and Canada as global cannabis suppliers.





BOL is not alone in its ambitions – it is one of eight licensed firms seeking to position Israel as a global hub for medical cannabis research.

Israel was among the first countries to legalise medical marijuana, although it remains illegal for recreational use.

It is one of just three, along with Canada and the Netherlands, to have a government-sponsored cannabis program. Israel is already a global leader in research and development into the drug for medical use.

The Ministry of Health has approved 150 research proposals, 35 of them clinical trials. More than 50 US companies are doing medical marijuana research in the country.

Trials are currently underway at Jerusalem’s Shaare Zedek Medical Center to test the effects of cannabinoids on 120 autistic children and young adults, the first of its kind worldwide.

Earlier this month, it was announced Hebrew University will investigate the benefits of non-psychoactive cannabis components for treating asthma and other respiratory conditions.

There are about 140 cannabinoids in the cannabis plant, with THC (the psychoactive component) and CBD, which has anti-inflammatory properties, of most interest to researchers.

CBD is the focus of much of Israel’s flourishing medical cannabis research on diabetes, heart disease, autism, fracture healing and inflammatory bowel disease.

The Israelis have also been investigating the drug’s ability to treat epilepsy, post-traumatic stress, cancer tumours, the side effects of chemotherapy, multiple sclerosis, Parkinson’s and Tourette’s syndrome, among others.

‘The Ministry of Health in Israel has channelled a lot of energy here in order to examine all the evidence based medicine, and is willing to take that approach,’ Dr Gedo told The Times of India.

‘Other ministries of health around the world are hesitant.’

BOL’s new centre has a 35,000-square-foot plant, an 8,000-square-foot storage room, 30,000 square feet of grow rooms and labs, and a million square feet of cultivation fields.

With its moat, wall, barbed wire, armed guards and security cameras, the facility could be mistaken for a military base if it weren’t for the pungent odour of marijuana in the air.

Like newborns in an incubator, hundreds of unique strains of plants will be monitored around the clock in computer-controlled, camera-patrolled, password-secured greenhouses.

Here the firm is able to break down the cannabis plant to extract different chemical compounds, called cannabinoids, for use in research and medicine.

There are about 140 of these, the most well-known ingredients are cannabidiol (CBD) and tetrahydrocannabinol (THC).

There are few facilities that can carry out the extraction process worldwide, Dr Gedo said, and most can only do it on a small scale.

Medical marijuana, while still controversial, has garnered increasing support in the medical community. But biotechs will be held back from fully capitalising on the global demand, given that the drug is still illegal in most countries.

There are currently just 29 that recognise some form of medical cannabis.

In the US, the use, possession, sale, cultivation, and transportation of marijuana is illegal under federal law. However 29 states, have legalised some form of medical use and allow doctors to prescribe the drug to patients.

BOL plans to apply for ‘investigative new drug’ status from the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) next year. Such approval would open up a huge market.

However, earlier this month, the FDA cracked down on marijuana products marketed as cancer cure.

The agency has sent a letter to four companies, slamming their claims that patients can treat life-threatening tumours – and even prevent Alzheimer’s – by using cannabis oils and creams.

In the UK, cannabis is still illegal in the UK, but its drug’s watchdog, the Medicines and Healthcare products Regulatory Agency (MHRA), last year ruled CBD should be classed as medicine.

It had looked at the ingredient because a number of manufacturing companies had been making ‘overt medicinal claims’ about products.

Now products used for medical purposes that contain CBD must be licensed before they can legally be supplied in the UK.

Meanwhile, medical marijuana producers and pharma companies are attempting to stay ahead of the game and make their mark overseas by scrambling to form collaborations and lobbying governments.

However, drug firms hoping to break into markets say cautious authorities in the US and Britain are too slow to act.

Israel-based pharma company iCAN held CannaTechUK, the UK’s first ever cannabis medical conference, in London last month, in a bid spark further interest and debate around the issue.

Founder Saul Kaye

Founder Saul Kaye told Mail Online: ‘Much of the US and especially the UK are woefully behind the curve in helping patients who could greatly benefit from using cannabis based products for numerous ailments such seizure disorders, MS, PTSD, chronic pain, Parkinson’s, crohn’s disease, and to mitigate the effects of nausea from chemotherapy.

‘Israel is a place where the science of cannabis is forward looking not looked down upon.

‘Israel’s Ministry of Health has approved well over 100 research proposals and has tens of clinical trials now happening.

‘More than 50 US companies are doing medical cannabis research in Israel because they simply can’t do them in the US but they do not want to miss out in the incredible financial opportunities that await in this burgeoning industry.’