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Cannabis in Israel: Research, Legal Status, and Legalization Efforts

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In recent news, a team of researchers from the Hebrew University of Jerusalem led by Professor Alexander Weinstein advanced The cannabis plant produces higher levels of cannabinoids, which are a group of unique psychotropic substances and medicinal substances.

Using a special type of harmless plant virus, the scientists increased the expressions of genes in the plant’s DNA so that it began producing 17% more THC (the main mind-altering ingredient in weeds), and 25% more CBG (a non-acting substance). Myself). molecule), and 20-30% more than terpenes (aromatic compounds that give cannabis its characteristic aroma and modulate its effect on the smoker).

This development is the first example of direct manipulation of the cannabis genome in the laboratory. No genetic modification has thus far been achieved through selection and reproduction alone – something humanity has learned for thousands of years and practiced on countless plants and animals.

Nor is it a coincidence that the breakthrough was made at the Hebrew University – the same institution where Professor Raphael Mecholam, whom they call the “father of cannabis research”, in the 1960s, made his revolutionary discoveries – including the discovery, isolation, and synthesis of THC and cannabinoids species. other.

Always on the cutting edge

The tradition of meticulous studies in everything related to cannabis – from botany to agriculture to medical research to human experimentation – has been very strong in the country. Israel is one of only three countries where cannabis research is sponsored by the state where the Ministry of Health not only accepts applications from scientific teams, but also funds promising projects worth NIS 8 million ($2.33 million) annually.

Thanks to its relatively lax standards and procedures – compared to countries like the United States – Israel has emerged as a global center for marijuana studies. At least 50 US companies have moved their cannabis research and development teams to Israel and invested more than $125 million in the local economy in 2016 alone.

Medical marijuana pioneers

Israel appears to be thinking about the future as far as the medical use of cannabis is concerned. The plant and its derivatives were approved for use by some groups of patients in the 1990s – around the same time that a similar move was made in California. In order to become a medical patient in Israel, you need to apply for a license and obtain a prescription from your doctor.

At least 50,000 Israelis smoke cannabis or use plant-derived extracts and other types of medication for pain associated with cancer, MS, Parkinson’s disease, Crohn’s disease and other chronic pain, as well as PTSD. Furthermore, even the military now tolerates its own personnel treating PTSD with medical marijuana.

Eight planting facilities have a state license to grow medical marijuana and supply patients through their own stores or medical center. There is also a company, Tikkun Olam, that is developing medicinal genetic lines with different chemical formulations (including certain ratios of THC to CBD) to better treat different conditions. With more than 230 breeds, Tikkun Olam is one of the global leaders in its field.

Criminalization is not over yet

Despite the gradual regulatory climate and widespread medical use, cannabis continues to be criminalized in Israel. The plant remains illegal to grow and possess by unlicensed individuals although these activities are largely decriminalized, meaning there is no prison sentence or even criminal prosecution for those law-abiding adults who grow, store, and smoke cannabis in their homes. . It is also impossible to Buy hemp seeds In a brick and mortar store in Israel though it can be done easily online.

At the same time, popular support for reform is growing in Israel as the use is becoming more common. It is estimated that about 27 percent of adults between the ages of 18 and 65 have used cannabis in the past 12 months, making the country the undisputed world leader in annual consumption. The issue of cannabis legalization has broad consensus among the country’s political parties, and there is one party, the Green Leaf Party, whose sole raison d’être is to increase legalization efforts. Although it has yet to secure a seat in the Knesset, it is likely that other political forces will pass a broad legislative act in the not too distant future.

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