West Virginia Becomes the 29th Medical Marijuana State

(THIS ARTICLE IS COURTESY OF THE MPP WEBSITE)

West Virginia Becomes the 29th Medical Marijuana State

Apr 19, 2017 , , , , , , , ,, ,


Today, West Virginia officially became the 29th state to pass medical marijuana legislation!

Gov. Jim Justice signed the law today after the bipartisan bill passed both the Senate and House earlier this month.

While the law isn’t perfect, it’s a great start toward providing safe and legal access to medical marijuana for qualifying patients. A summary is available here.

This achievement didn’t happen overnight. In fact, MPP, along with many other advocates, has been working tirelessly to get a medical marijuana bill passed for years.

MPP released the following in a press release:

“This legislation is going to benefit countless West Virginia patients and families for years to come,” said Matt Simon of the Marijuana Policy Project, who is a West Virginia native and graduate of West Virginia University. “Medical marijuana can be effective in treating a variety of debilitating conditions and symptoms. It is a proven pain reliever, and it is far less toxic and less addictive than a lot of prescription drugs. Providing patients with a safer alternative to opioids could turn out to be a godsend for this state.”

Six states have adopted comprehensive medical marijuana laws in the past 12 months. Three of those laws, including West Virginia’s, passed through Republican-controlled legislatures. Lawmakers in Pennsylvania and Ohio approved them last April and June, respectively. The other three were approved by voters in November in states won by Donald Trump — Arkansas, Florida, and North Dakota.

“Intensifying public support and a growing body of evidence are driving the rapid growth in the number of states adopting medical marijuana laws,” Simon said. “Lawmakers are also learning about marijuana’s medical benefits from friends, family members, and constituents who have experienced them firsthand in other states. More than nine out of 10 American voters think marijuana should be legal for medical purposes. In light of this near universal support, it is shocking that some legislatures still have not adopted effective medical marijuana laws.”

Apr 19, 2017 , , , , , , , ,, ,


Today, West Virginia officially became the 29th state to pass medical marijuana legislation!

Gov. Jim Justice signed the law today after the bipartisan bill passed both the Senate and House earlier this month.

While the law isn’t perfect, it’s a great start toward providing safe and legal access to medical marijuana for qualifying patients. A summary is available here.

This achievement didn’t happen overnight. In fact, MPP, along with many other advocates, has been working tirelessly to get a medical marijuana bill passed for years.

MPP released the following in a press release:

“This legislation is going to benefit countless West Virginia patients and families for years to come,” said Matt Simon of the Marijuana Policy Project, who is a West Virginia native and graduate of West Virginia University. “Medical marijuana can be effective in treating a variety of debilitating conditions and symptoms. It is a proven pain reliever, and it is far less toxic and less addictive than a lot of prescription drugs. Providing patients with a safer alternative to opioids could turn out to be a godsend for this state.”

Six states have adopted comprehensive medical marijuana laws in the past 12 months. Three of those laws, including West Virginia’s, passed through Republican-controlled legislatures. Lawmakers in Pennsylvania and Ohio approved them last April and June, respectively. The other three were approved by voters in November in states won by Donald Trump — Arkansas, Florida, and North Dakota.

“Intensifying public support and a growing body of evidence are driving the rapid growth in the number of states adopting medical marijuana laws,” Simon said. “Lawmakers are also learning about marijuana’s medical benefits from friends, family members, and constituents who have experienced them firsthand in other states. More than nine out of 10 American voters think marijuana should be legal for medical purposes. In light of this near universal support, it is shocking that some legislatures still have not adopted effective medical marijuana laws.”

Where Marijuana Is Legal: Opioid Deaths And Alcohol Sales Are Way Down

(THIS ARTICLE IS COURTESY OF HIGH TIMES MAGAZINE)

For many years, the biggest threat to marijuana legalization and fledgling legal cannabis businesses was the police.

Fears of DEA agents breaking down the front door at dawn, prosecutions in federal court with its accompanying mandatory minimums or warrantless visits from helicopter-riding police who merely cut down plant and leave—such things happen and are legal—was what kept people involved in cannabis up at night.

But now, with legalization sweeping the country and a vast majority of Americans in support of medical marijuana, the real enemy is revealing itself.

And as recent events in Arizona demonstrated, it’s Big Pharma.

In 2015, U.S.-based companies made up 40 percent of the global pharmaceutical trade, a market share worth $413 billion. These companies are well aware that cannabis is becoming an accepted treatment for chronic pain and many of the other lifelong afflictions now treated by highly profitable trademarked drugs—and some have proven willing and able to take steps to make sure marijuana stays out of the hands of law-abiding Americans in order to protect that enormous bottom line.

“Pharmaceuticals are going to run me down,” Dr. Gina Berman, medical director of the Giving Tree Wellness Center, a Phoenix, Arizona-based cannabis dispensary, told the Guardian. “We have a small business, and we can’t afford to fight Big Pharma.”

The most egregious case to date is Insys Therapeutics. Insys, is an Arizona-based drug manufacturer of pain drugs that contain fentanyl, the powerful synthetic opioid that’s been fingered in many fatal opiate overdoses (including the death of Prince).

Arizona was the lone state where a marijuana legalization initiative failed at the ballot in November—and one of the leading donors to the anti-legalization campaign, with a $500,000 check, was Insys. (Another was Trump-supporting casino magnate Sheldon Adelson, CEO of the Las Vegas Sands Corp. Here are the Vegas nightlife spots to boycott, forever.)

As the Intercept reported this fall, Insys executives openly recognized the threat to its market posed by marijuana. And in a devious twist, Insys identified marijuana as an existential threat and moved to keep it illegal, while developing a new drug based on synthetic THC.

On March 23, the DEA ruled that Insys’s new drug, called “Syndros,” could be marketed and sold as a Schedule II drug—meaning it could be prescribed to patients as soon as this fall.

So far, the FDA has approved Syndros for AIDS-related weight loss and vomiting and nausea associated with chemotherapy—two of the original applications for medical marijuana.

“It’s pretty absurd that federal law considers marijuana to have no medical value, but allows for the development of synthetic versions of the same substance,” Mason Tvert, a spokesman for the Marijuana Policy Project, which sponsored Arizona’s legalization measure, told the Guardian.

But what about Insys Therapeutics? It’s a company straight out of a Superman comic. 

In December, Justice Department prosecutors took the “unusual” step of charging six former Insys executives, including former CEO Michael L. Babich, with racketeering for its “aggressive” marketing of a fentanyl-based pain drug called Subsys, the New York Times reported. Prosecutors alleged that in order to sell more Subsys, the company arranged lavish dinners and other events for doctors who prescribed “lots of” the drug, and when that didn’t work, the company resorted to kickbacks. 

One Connecticut nurse pleaded guilty in 2015 to accepting $83,000 in kickbacks from the company. Families of dead patients, prescribed Subsys despite prescriptions for other drugs that are fatal when combined, and despite no cancer diagnosis—the drug is only FDA-approved from cancer-related pain—have also sued the company.

In a statement, Carmen Ortiz, the-then U.S. attorney for Massachusetts (before she and many others were summarily fired by Trump administration officials earlier this year), pinned part of the blame for the country’s opiate epidemic squarely on “corporate greed.”

In January, Insys founder John Kapoor stepped down as chairman, a role he took over from the indicted Babich in late 2015. Kapoor’s exit came after Insys’s sales plummeted 40 percent, as Forbes reported. (Wonder if the alleged kickbacks had anything to do with the inflated numbers?)

It’s all very ominous, but in a real way, marijuana activists should let Insys try—and then fail, spectacularly, as they are primed to do.

Insys’s proposed product, called Syndros, is a solution of “oral dronabinol.” Dronabinol is the generic name for another synthetic version of THC that’s been on the market for quite some time, called Marinol—and if you know anyone who has used Marinol, you know what they think of it. Namely, it kind of sucks.

For many patients, fake weed simply doesn’t work. As one patient prescribed Marinol told CBS News, “It might as well have been M&M’s.”

This is almost certainly because as synthetic THC only, Marinol and Syndros both lack cannabidiol, or CBD, as well as dozens of others cannabinoids. And as per the “entourage effect” theory, proffered by luminaries like CNN’s Sanjay Gupta and many more, your body and brain need all of cannabis’s component parts in order for its medical “magic” to work.

But let’s say Insys strikes out with Subsys. It won’t end there.

This is a company accused, with enough evidence to indict in a federal court, of being willing to see people die in order to sell more drugs. And it won’t end with this company.

Big Pharma is scared of weed—terrified—and as any animal scientist will tell you, a cornered and frightened animal is the most dangerous. And that applies to humans.

You can keep up with all of HIGH TIMES’ marijuana news right here.

West Virginia Legislature Votes To Legalize Medical Marijuana ‘As Soon As Possible’

 

MPP Blog


WV Legislature Approves Medical Marijuana Bill

Posted: 07 Apr 2017 12:34 PM PDT

 West Virginia is on the verge of becoming the next state with an effective medical marijuana law!

The bill received final approval in the West Virginia Legislature on Thursday and is headed to the desk of Gov. Jim Justice. He has publicly expressed support for legal access to medical marijuana and is expected to sign the bill into law, making West Virginia the 29th state to adopt an effective medical marijuana law.

SB 386, titled the West Virginia Medical Cannabis Act, charges the Bureau of Public Health with regulating medical marijuana growers, processors, and dispensaries. Patients with specifically listed qualifying medical conditions will be allowed to use extracts, tinctures, and other preparations of marijuana, but not marijuana in flower or leaf form. This differs from the original version of the bill and the medical marijuana programs in most other states. A summary of SB 386 is available at http://bit.ly/2nbUAq3.

MPP issued the following statement in a press release:

“Some of the House amendments to the bill are concerning, but it still has the potential to provide relief to thousands of seriously ill WestVirginians,” said Matt Simon of the Marijuana Policy Project, who is a West Virginia native and graduate of West Virginia University. “We commend the Legislature for passing this compassionate and much-needed legislation, and we encourage Gov. Justice to sign it into law.

“This will be an important and, in some cases, life-saving program,” Simon said. “It is critical that the state implement it promptly. We are committed to working with officials to make sure the program is as effective as possible and to get it up and running in a timely fashion. Many patients cannot afford to wait much longer.

The post WV Legislature Approves Medical Marijuana Bill appeared first on MPP Blog.

Study: States with medical marijuana have lower prescription drug use—Plus Fewer Drug Overdoses And Deaths

 

Study: States with medical marijuana have lower prescription drug use—This Causes Fewer Drug Overdoses And Fewer Drug Related Deaths As It Is Impossible To Overdose (Die) From Marijuana Usage!

Prescription drug prices are up, making policy experts increasingly anxious. But relief could come from a surprising source. Just ask Cheech and Chong.

New research found that states that legalized medical marijuana — which is sometimes recommended for symptoms like chronic pain, anxiety or depression — saw declines in the number of Medicare prescriptions for drugs used to treat those conditions and a dip in spending by Medicare Part D, which covers the cost on prescription medications.

The study, which appears in Health Affairs, examined data from Medicare Part D from 2010 to 2013. It is the first study to examine whether legalization changes doctors’ clinical practice and whether it could curb public health costs.

The findings add context to the debate as more lawmakers express interest in medical marijuana. Ohio and Pennsylvania have this year passed laws allowing the drug for therapeutic purposes, making the practice legal in 25 states, plus Washington D.C. The question could also come to a vote in Florida and Missouri this November. A federal agency is considering reclassifying it under national drug policy to make medical marijuana more readily available.

Medical marijuana saved Medicare about $165 million in 2013, the researchers concluded. They estimated that, if the policy were nationalized, Medicare Part D spending would have declined in the same year by about $470 million. That’s about half a percent of the program’s total expenditures.

That is an admittedly small proportion of the multi-billion dollar program. But the figure is nothing to sneeze at, said W. David Bradford, a professor of public policy at the University of Georgia and one of the study’s authors.

“We wouldn’t say that saving money is the reason to adopt this. But it should be part of the discussion,” he added. “We think it’s pretty good indirect evidence that people are using this as medication.”

The researchers found that in states with medical marijuana laws on the books, the number of drug prescriptions dropped for treating anxiety, depression, nausea, pain, psychosis, seizures, sleep disorders and spasticity. Those are all conditions for which marijuana is sometimes recommended. Prescriptions for other drugs treating other conditions, meanwhile, did not decline.

The study’s authors are separately investigating the impact medical marijuana could have on prescriptions covered by Medicaid, the federal-state health insurance program for low-income people. Though this research is still being finalized, they found a greater drop in prescription drug payments there, Bradford said.

If the trend bears out, it could have meaningful public health ramifications. As doctors and public health experts grapple with the consequences of excessive prescription painkiller use, medical marijuana could provide an alternate path. Experts say abuse of prescription painkillers — known as opioids — is in part driven by high prescribing. In states that legalized medical uses of marijuana, painkiller prescriptions dropped — on average, the study found, by about 1,800 daily doses filled each year per doctor. That tracks with other research on the subject.

Questions exist, though, about the possible health harms or issues that could result from regular use.

It’s unlike other drugs, such as opioids, in which overdoses are fatal, said Deepak D’Souza, a professor of psychiatry at Yale School of Medicine, who has researched the drug.

“That doesn’t happen with marijuana,” he added. “But there are whole other side effects and safety issues we need to be aware of.”

“A lot of people also worry that marijuana is a drug that can be abused,” agreed Bradford. “Just because it’s not as dangerous as some other dangerous things, it doesn’t mean you want to necessarily promote it. There’s a lot of unanswered questions.”

Meanwhile, it is difficult to predict how many people will opt for this choice instead of meds like antidepressants or opioids.

Because the federal government labels marijuana as a Schedule I drug, doctors can’t technically prescribe it. In states that have legalized medical marijuana, they can only write patients a note sending them to a dispensary. Insurance plans don’t cover it, so patients using marijuana pay out-of-pocket. Prices vary based on geography, but a patient’s recommended regimen can be as much as $400 per month. The federal Drug Enforcement Agency is considering changing that classification — a decision is expected sometime this summer. If the DEA made marijuana a Schedule II drug, that would put it in the company of drugs such as morphine and oxycodone, making it easier for doctors to prescribe and more likely that insurance would cover it.

To some, the idea that medical marijuana triggers costs savings is hollow. Instead, they say it is cost shifting. “Even if Medicare may be saving money, medical marijuana doesn’t come for free,” D’Souza said. “I have some trouble with the idea that this is a source of savings.”

Still, Bradford maintains that if the industry expanded and medical marijuana became a regular part of patient care nationally, the cost curve would bend because marijuana is cheaper than other drugs.

Lester Grinspoon, an associate professor emeritus of psychiatry at Harvard Medical School, who has written two books on the subject, echoed that possibility. Unlike with many drugs, he argued, “There’s a limit to how high a price cannabis can be sold at as a medicine.” He is not associated with the study.

And, in the midst of the debate about its economics, medical marijuana still sometimes triggers questions within the practice of medicine.

“As physicians, we are used to prescribing a dose. We don’t have good information about what is a good dose for the treatment for, say pain,” D’Souza said. “Do you say, ‘Take two hits and call me in the morning?’ I have no idea.”

Kaiser Health News (KHN) is a national health policy news service. It is an editorially independent program of the Henry J. Kaiser Family Foundation.

Israel Wakes Up To Reality That Marijuana Is A Medical Gift From God For Mankind

(This article is courtesy of the Times of Israel News Paper)

As hundreds of medical professionals, farmers, patients and cannabis activists descend on Israel this week for the Cann10 International Medical Conference from September 11 to 13, Israeli scientists are plowing ahead with new clinical trials in order to approve cannabis use for a wider variety of diseases.

Get the Start-Up Israel’s daily newsletter
and never miss our top stories
  FREE SIGN UP!

Israel is a well-known internationally as a pioneer in medical cannabis. This summer, the government approved a plan initiated by Health Minister Yaakov Litzman (United Torah Judaism) to relax some of the medical cannabis requirements. The plan will expand the number of doctors who can issue cannabis prescriptions, remove limits on the number of marijuana growers, make cannabis available at approved pharmacies, and possibly eliminate the requirement for a permit from the Health Ministry so that just a doctor’s prescription will be sufficient.

“There’s no reason why someone who needs cannabis for medical reasons should suffer and confront unnecessary red tape, and therefore the present situation must be changed,” Litzman said in June, the Haaretz daily reported.

The Health Ministry’s move to make medical marijuana even more accessible is part of the country’s tolerance and even support for marijuana, especially in a medical context.

A Tikun Olam pharmacist metes out a patient's monthly medical marijuana prescription at the Tel Aviv dispensary on September 1, 2016. (Melanie Lidman/Times of Israel)

A Tikun Olam pharmacist metes out a patient’s monthly medical marijuana prescription at the Tel Aviv dispensary on September 1, 2016. (Melanie Lidman/Times of Israel)

“This is the second [marijuana] conference in Israel in six months and it is evidence that Israel and the world are starting to wake up to what Israel can contribute to the cannabis industry,” said Clifton Flack, chief marketing officer for iCAN Israel-Cannabis, a private equity fund that focuses on cannabis.

“Our key contribution has been and will be research,” Flack added. “The story of the Israel cannabis industry began with research, with Prof. [Raphael] Mechoulam. For the past 50 years we’ve contributed to research. You are going to find that, under the hood, a big percentage of the global cannabis products or industry will somewhere have something Israeli.”

Today, there are approximately 23,000 patients who have medical marijuana prescriptions in Israel, up from 10,000 in 2012. That number will continue to rise as marijuana is approved to treat more ailments, with scientists racing to run high-level, double-blind clinical trials exploring medical uses of cannabis that can be published in major medical journals.

Currently, cannabis is undergoing clinical trials or approved for use to treat tinnitus, colitis, Crohn’s disease, some of the spastic symptoms of cerebral palsy pediatric patients, severe epilepsy in children, Tourette’s syndrome, Parkinson’s disease, Inflammatory Bowel Disease, autism symptoms like insomnia or aggressiveness, and some of the side effects of cancer treatment. Future trials include testing cannabis for the treatment of rheumatoid arthritis, post-traumatic stress disorder and eye inflammations.

Professor Raphael Mechoulam, previously at the Weizmann Institute and now at Hebrew University, is largely credited as the father of medical cannabis for identifying and identifying tetrahydrocannabinol (commonly known as THC) in 1964. THC is the active compound in marijuana that produces the “high” sought after by recreational users. Another main active compound in marijuana is cannabidiol (CBD), which has medical benefits, including anti-inflammatory properties.

Professor Raphael Mechoulam in his lab in Hebrew University's Ein Kerem campus on September 1, 2016. (Melanie Lidman/Times of Israel)

Professor Raphael Mechoulam in his lab at Hebrew University on September 1, 2016. (Melanie Lidman/Times of Israel)

It took years for the rest of the medical establishment to begin paying attention to his work with medical marijuana, Mechoulam said.

“There was a therapeutic importance for epilepsy that we identified, and although we published, no one was interested in epilepsy,” he said. “There are one and two-year-old’s with epilepsy and there is no other medication that works. Only in the last few years have they discovered our work. Up to 60 percent of the kids with epilepsy are helped.”

But the 85-year-old scientist, who still oversees a lab at Hebrew University’s Ein Kerem campus, feels that the cannabis field is on the precipice of a breakthrough, and hundreds of uses of the plant are just waiting to be discovered.

“In the last few years, compounds related to cannabinoids are acting on things that we didn’t expect, like osteoporosis,” he said. He noted that cannabis may also reduce the amount of brain damage after a head trauma by relaxing constricted blood vessels.

Medicinal marijuana in the pre-cookie stage (photo credit: Abir Sultan/ Flash 90)

Medicinal marijuana in the pre-cookie stage (Abir Sultan/Flash 90)

Mechoulam has watched the field of cannabis research come a long way in the past decades. When he first started his research at the Weizmann Institute in the 1960s, his first challenge was to obtain a large amount of cannabis. “The administrative head of Weizmann called someone he knew in the police and just asked for cannabis,” Mechoulam recalled.

“I heard from the other side [of the conversation], ‘Is he reliable?’ and the person from the Weizmann Institute said ‘Of course he’s reliable!’ so they said, ‘Have him come over.’ So I went to the police, I got five kilo’s of hashish, I signed for it, and I put the five kilo’s of hashish in my bag. Then I went on a bus and went to the lab. Now, in the bus there was a lot of cannabis smell; nobody knew what it was.”

“Then it turned out that we had broken the law and I should go to prison and the policeman had broken the law and he should go to prison, because it was the Health Ministry that has to approve these things,” Mechoulam continued. “I went to the Health Ministry and said ‘I apologize, I’m sorry, next time we’ll do it that way.’”

Christine Haj, a post-doctoral student in Mechoulam's lab, holds a beaker of pure THC in the Hebrew University lab on September 1, 2016. THC, the principal psychoactive constituent of cannabis, can be an amber or gold colored glassy solid when cold, and becomes viscous and sticky if warmed. (Melanie Lidman/Times of Israel)

Christine Haj, a post-doctoral student in Mechoulam’s lab, holds a beaker of pure THC in the Hebrew University lab on September 1, 2016. THC, the principal psychoactive constituent of cannabis, can be an amber or gold-colored glassy solid when cold, and becomes viscous and sticky if warmed. (Melanie Lidman/Times of Israel)

The US National Institutes of Health has supported Mechoulam’s cannabis research for decades, since American scientists had much more difficulty obtaining cannabis for study. He was awarded a NIDA (National Institute of Drug Abuse) Discovery Award in 2011. Mechoulam said that while the US and Israel had similar laws governing cannabis research, Israel’s culture of personal connections, colloquially called  enabled the research to progress much faster here.

Still, there have been many challenges along the way, especially because cannabis is a natural compound that must be grown rather than produced.

“Clinicians don’t like to work with marijuana or hashish because it’s not consistent, and that’s not the way modern research is done,” said Mechoulam.

The smallest changes in growing techniques, weather, or watering can affect the chemical make-up of the plant. “THC amounts can vary even within the same plant,” said Dr. Keren-Or Amar, business development manager at Shizim, another cannabis investment company.

“One of the concerns the FDA [US Food and Drug Administration] has expressed is that when you use a plant you cannot secure the right dosage in every batch,” said Doron Ben Ami, chief strategy officer of Therapix Biosciences Ltd., a company that is developing cannabis-based drugs to treat neurological disorders such as Tourette’s syndrome and mild cognitive impairments.

“In pharmaceuticals, you need to be sure you know exactly what your patient is getting,” he said.

Medical marijuana at the Tikun Olam dispensary in Tel Aviv on September 1, 2016. Along with guidance from Tikun Olam's specially trained nursing staff, patients can decide to purchase their prescription in flower form, pre-rolled joints, pills, or tinctures. (Melanie Lidman/Times of Israel)

Medical marijuana at the Tikun Olam dispensary in Tel Aviv on September 1, 2016. Along with guidance from Tikun Olam’s specially trained nursing staff, patients can decide to purchase their prescription in flower form, pre-rolled joints, pills, or tinctures. (Melanie Lidman/Times of Israel)

Therapix and other pharmaceutical companies are working with the chemical production of THC, or synthetic THC. This allows the company to monitor the exact ratio of the active compounds that will be in the developed drugs.

But as additional strides have been made in producing synthetic cannabis, scientists are also getting better at manipulating strains of marijuana to have higher levels of THC or CBD depending on what disease they are treating.

Tikun Olam, the largest and oldest cannabis dispensary in Israel, now has 15 marijuana plant strains, which are cultivated to have a specific ratio of THC to CBD. Its Avidekel strain has 18% CBD compared to just 0.8% THC, meaning that it is safe for children and won’t produce the high commonly associated with marijuana. Tikun Olam treats more than 200 children with epilepsy with this strain.

Tikun Olam started 10 years ago with 10 patients in Israel, growing a few plants on Birya, a small moshav near Safed. When its list of patients grew to 1,000, it had to move to commercial fields whose location is closely guarded.

Next up: More markets, more diseases

Today, there are currently about 23,000 patients in Israel who have medical marijuana licenses granted by the Health Ministry. Tikun Olam treats 7,000 people per month. Except for patients with Tourette’s syndrome, patients must prove they have tried at least four alternative methods for managing their pain or illness before receiving a medical marijuana license, which is utilized as a last resort.

“The problem for us is that people want to believe that cannabis is going to cure them, but we don’t have the research yet,” said Professor Zvi Bentwich, a professor of medical biology at Ben Gurion University and the chief scientist at Tikun Olam. Bentwich was a pioneer in the Israeli fight against HIV/AIDs, and he became interested in medical cannabis after observing the positive effects that marijuana use, though illegal, had on his patient’s in dealing with nausea and loss of weight.

“In the 1990s, I advocated for my patient’s to use cannabis illegally, and then I helped get the government to legalize cannabis,” he said. “Previously, marijuana has not been studied clinically. Well-created, legal, clinical studies didn’t exist.”

A cancer patient shows his concentrated marijuana pills in the Tikun Olam guidance center in Tel Aviv on September 1, 2016. (Melanie Lidman/Times of Israel)

A cancer patient shows his concentrated marijuana pills in the Tikun Olam guidance center in Tel Aviv on September 1, 2016. (Melanie Lidman/Times of Israel)

Now Bentwich works with Tikun Olam to design clinical studies for various diseases. “We doctors are reluctant to use cannabis unless evidence is brought forward to prove it. In Israel, we are in a position to do pioneering work that has not been done anywhere.”

“The industry is exploding, but it is a fraction of what it is going to be in 10 years,” added Flack, the equity fund chief marketing officer. “In 10 years you are going to see cannabis everywhere. In Israel we add vitamin D to milk. We should be adding CBD. It doesn’t get you high. The body requires CBD, the brain produces it naturally and taking CBD every day in small amounts only does you good. I think within 10 years we will see Yotvata milk with CBD.”

Market potential could be huge. Cannabics Pharmaceuticals, an Israeli company that developed a marijuana capsule for cancer sufferers, estimates that the medical marijuana market has the potential to reach $3.6 billion in the US alone by 2019. This would make it larger than the organic food market.

“I think in 10 years every single accelerator or incubator in Israel will have at least one business, one startup doing something for cannabis,” said Flack. “It could be a medical device, or a tracking system, but in the startup world it will be everywhere. You are going to see a significant export industry, not of the flower, but of medical products.”

Exporting the buds may not be far behind. Agriculture Minister Uri Ariel announced in August that Israel would begin exporting medical marijuana, possibly within the next two years.

Scientists stress that the real key toward making marijuana more useful to patients is clinical tests that can systematically prove that cannabis is safe and effective for human use for specific diseases.

“I can cure a lot of diseases in mice [with cannabis],” said Amar, a former scientist now with the cannabis investment group. But without clinical trials, she said, “there’s no benefit to humans.”