Let’s Talk CannabinoidsSaul Kaye, CEO of iCan Israel Cannabis, lives in Beit Shemesh and believes medical cannabis will offer great value in the very near future.
The real value of medical cannabis can only be measured in its efficacy to heal and serve humanity. As a pharmacist, Kaye personally witnessed this truth as his friend and business partner became increasingly debilitated by chronic fatigue syndrome with no relief from standardized medicine or lifestyle therapies. As with many long-suffering patients, medical cannabis was chosen as a “last-line option.”
“Cannabis brought him back,” Kaye said, “which was my light-bulb moment.”
As a scientist, he was suddenly forced, “to look past the stigma and realize there was something monumental possible with this drug.” That was 2014 when Kaye stepped away from the pharmaceutical industry and into the future of cannabinoids. Now, poised on the cutting-edge of developments in medical cannabis, Kaye leads the work of “de-stigmatizing” cannabis as a credible and effective “first-line medicinal option,” in the first, best environment for legalized cannabinoid research.
It’s well known that Israel is where pharmacologist, Raphael Mechoulam and colleagues at Hebrew University first determined the chemical structures of THC and CBD in 1963. What is little known is that the Israeli Government was also the first country in the world to legalize research, with a Medical Cannabis Unit in the Ministry of Health monitoring and regulating quality and efficacy. Huh? Really? For many of us in the U.S., it’s difficult to even imagine a federal governmental agency created to remove obstacles to ANY cannabis industry.
Since 2014, however, U.S. firms have been looking beyond our shores and Oval Office and invested about $50 million in licensing Israeli medical marijuana patents, cannabis agro-tech startups and firms developing delivery devices such as inhalers.
“I expect it to grow to $100 million in the coming year,” Kaye said, explaining why he powers a global conference in Tel Aviv each year. CannaTech, hosted by iCan Israel Cannabis, is one of the largest international gatherings of medical marijuana experts, nearing 1,000 attendees last month.
“I’d like to think we set the bar higher than anyone else,” said Kaye, infused with enthusiasm after the conference. “We’re striving to create a unique global platform to support research, development, technology and funding. Our goal is to have the most advanced conversation about cannabis… and drive the regulatory environment.”
According to Kaye, Israel is an incubator success and the stimulus for more governments to legalize medical research. Spain, Australia and most recently, Canada are already following Israel’s lead and Germany has just mandated that health insurance companies cover the cost of approved cannabis medicines.
Despite altruistic projections, money is the formidable driver in cannabis, both recreationally and medically. However, “wellness” is a word Kaye uses often where referring to his work and ambitions.
“We’re in this business to help people,” he says. “The object is to expand legitimization of a standardized range of cannabis therapies. Most people still think medicinal marijuana is just about lighting up a joint.”
In the U.S., that may be true because smoking cannabis is the not only the “last-line option “–it’s the only option. Twenty-nine states have legalized medical use of cannabis, yet the federal government refuses to legalize necessary research to develop the most effective methodologies.
Time is running out for many whose suffering could be lessened, and thousands, whose lives could be saved. In the most apparent U.S example, 5.2 million people are annually diagnosed with PTSD (Post Traumatic Stress Syndrome.) Comprehensive literature on patient feedback provides evidence that cannabinoid treatment helps substantial numbers of military veterans with PTSD, yet controlled research remains unconducted while 22 veterans a day commit suicide.
Saul Kaye, and thousands of medicinal cannabinoid pioneers like him, intend to change these statistics in the very near future.