Research and development of medical cannabis in Israel

Our second Q&A was hosted by Yahav Blaicher from Israel. He’s a 15-year R&D veteran in medical cannabis, Ph.D student of cannabinoids, terpenes, and botanical formulators, and owner of Herbal Tune.

Israel has a special place in the history of cannabis research.

Researchers there were the first to publish the chemical structure of THC and discover the human endocannabinoid system. Following national legalization in March, Israeli scientists continue to be at the cutting edge of research and development of new products.

For example, Yahav is self-reportedly most excited about terpenes and scent properties of cannabis. Scent affects the chemical composition of our brains in complex ways, and will be a further study for him in the future. You can see more of what he’s written on this topic here.

Yahav shared a bit on the state of medical cannabis in Israel: that almost every hospital runs clinical tests, and that Israel has a much more “stringent standards” and regulations, consistent across pharmaceutical lines. There are also “hundreds of startups” working on better methods for cultivation.

He also realizes the importance of stabilizing, diversifying, and overall understanding better different strains of cannabis, which would then be used to treat opioid addiction or sleeping disorders, to start.

Israel is a country to watch as far as cannabis develops, and the U.S. could learn as far as testing requirements, the legalization process, and the focus on medical research of cannabis.

Here are the top seven highlights from Yahav:

“I’m most excited about formulation that brings together whole plant extracts and reversed engineering for different delivery systems. I think that mainly in North America we will see the vaporizers and e-cigarettes as the most popular and diverse platform for innovate formulating.” — Yahav Blaicher,

“As to vitamin B6 [as a catalyst for cannabis]: unlike cannabinoids and terpene,  pyridoxal 5′-phosphate (the active form of B6) is hydrophilic, which means it dissolves in water, not in oil. So formulating it with cannabis extracts is not common. I am pretty sure that this group of vitamins influences the neuronal transduction of the cannabinoids receptors in the brain.”

“To stabilize a strain, the accurate answer can be found by using DNA markers. Less accurate are terpenes and cannabinoids’ fingerprint.”

“We have a lot of phenotypes and chemotypes but they do not all have huge variety. We must find diverse wild types to implement new characters and to have the ability to make 7-8 generations of breeding to establish the exact genes in the commercial strains.”

“Treating medical conditions in a matter of global or local regulations means we need the develop consistency in known molecules, isolates and synthetics. Personally i think as medication, the first illness cannabis would treat would be sleeping disorders.”

“Terpenes are most diversified phytochemicals in plant kingdom. Volatile terpenes indirectly excite cerebral function by binding to scent receptors. They also directly bind to neuroreceptors, as they are lipophilic and can move on brain barrier blood vessels.”

“Personally I don’t think genetically modifying cannabis is necessary, as we have a lot of work to do combining traditional selection with modern techniques and inherent genetics. Secondly, we are far from mapping the cannabis genome.”