Insights from Israel: cutting-edge medical cannabis research

With another expert from Israel, SD6 hosted the founder and CEO of Israel Cannabis, Saul Kaye. Originally a pharmacist who got into the medical cannabis space, Saul now not only iCAN but also CannaTech, an international cannabis conference held in Israel.

Saul answered questions from the SD6 community on Israel’s medical cannabis space as well as specific scientific questions about the plant.

Jackie Morck at SD6 asked what is the state of international import and export of medical cannabis, and Saul answered that “exportation is key to maintaining and strengthening the Israeli cannabis market … as new countries adopt some form of regulation, they still need access to tried and tested products to meet the demand of their local populations until their own regulations and markets catch up.”

Sebastian Tory-Pratt at SD6 asked what promising new medicines are being developed in Israel. Saul responded, “We have a device being trialed that is a dosable inhaled non-combusting formula. We have of course tablets and capsules that are dosable as well.”

He continued, “I think the biggest breakthrough in Israel is the ability to study the effects of the plant in clinical settings and record and use the data to make better products that target diseases.”

Mostly, he spoke on scientific advancements and knowledge. For example, Jackie Morck asked about the success of treating PTSD with cannabis. “We have done pretty extensive work with patients and PTSD. It is working and patients are seeing results, I know that many of the patients do not respond well to Sativa strains,” Saul said.

“I think that the stigma around medical cannabis has been broken in Israel and barriers are coming down. We will see future research on this topic, I am sure.”

And how did those stigmas get broken?

Saul said that “Israel is a pretty small country – now only 8 million people. We have had a medical cannabis program since the 90s with currently over 30,000 patients. That means the likelihood in Israel of knowing someone treated with cannabis is pretty high and this has helped to remove the stigma more than anything. Ain’t nothing like grandma getting medical cannabis as part of her national medical program to change stigma.”

What about human trials on Parkinson’s, irritable bowel syndrome, and even cancer?

Saul said that “we know it works on humans. There is a faster pathway due to the fact that it has been fairly well established that cannabis is safe, and often patients have no other medical options, so the regulations are responsive to this.”

There’s been a lot of buzz on the discovery of multiple compounds in cannabis plants. So Jackie asked, what is the difference between single and multi molecule cannabis medicines?

Saul said, “Whole plant formulas have many compounds in them as opposed to those that have only a single cannabinoid. The ECS, or endo cannabinoid system, in our bodies requires different cannabinoids for different reasons. By having multiple cannabinoids in a formula you are able to get the synergistic effects of the cannabinoids.”

And finally, what if you’re an investor wanting to enter the space? (He’s not only a pharmacist, but a founder too!) He says: DO your due diligence. I have been around long enough in this space to see many people get burned. There is a lot of excitement to get in and a fear of missing out that drives investors to the wrong deals.

  • Look at companies with a broad strategy and a global footprint so that local regulations will have minimal impact moving forward.
  • Look at projections and ask questions about a market that should have declining prices.
  • Back the team and not the idea. Ask: has the team executed in the past and what previous experience do they have that helps to bring this endeavor to fruition