The Cannabis Industry is Already Multinational: A look at Cannatech

The conference in Tel Aviv brought together legal marijuana experts and entrepreneurs from around the globe.

Anyone with doubts about the international scope of the legal cannabis industry should look closely at how the recent Cannatech conference in Israel assembled marijuana researchers, cultivators, manufacturers and entrepreneurs from around the world.

The event, held earlier this month in Tel Aviv, is billed as one of the top global medical cannabis conferences. It reportedly brought together around 700 experts in science, finance, medicine, government policy, technology and other related fields – with about two-thirds of participants coming from outside of Israel.

“It was a pretty fascinating experience,” says Jeffrey Zucker, president and co-founder of Denver-based Green Lion Partners, a business strategy firm that focuses on the early-stage development of the regulated cannabis industry.

Zucker tells Blunt Network he met people from Australia, France, Germany, Spain, Greece and elsewhere at the event and was impressed with the wide array of technologies on display – especially from the host country.

“We’ve been watching the Israeli market and the incredible innovation that’s come out of there,” he added, “especially with the government supporting cannabis as a medical plant. We’ve been wanting to go there to learn about opportunities, about the maturity of the industry there.”

Israel has been a pioneer in medical cannabis research and development for decades, and Israelis at Cannatech were proud of their country’s reputation within the international cannabis sector.

“Israel is known as a start-up nation,” says Uri Zeevi, CEO and co-founder of Seedo.

The Israeli firm has created what the company describes as the first fully automatic home growing device “that allows you to grow numerous types of medicinal herbs and various plants.”

“Many companies grew up here and then succeeded enormously,” Zeevi tells Blunt Network. “As a result investors believe Israel could be the next thing in cannabis.”

And that assessment is shared by other companies in the cannabis sector.

“We believe that Israel is the epicenter of cannabis research and development,” Jmîchaeĺe Keller, the CEO at California-based Steep Hill Labs, a cannabis science and tech company, told Israel21C. “We look forward to its role in leading the evolution of medical cannabis worldwide.”

It was during CannaTech that Steep Hill announced it is entering into a joint venture with iCAN, an Israeli medical cannabis industry accelerator. In a press statement, the companies said they will partner on a new “analytical, genetic, and R&D lab in Israel to further research the cannabis plant.”

Israel’s government is losing no time in expanding on its current role as the world’s leader in medical cannabis research. According to Reuters there are around 120 cannabis-related studies underway in Israel – including clinical trials examining the effects of cannabis on such ailments as tinnitus, psoriasis, autism and epilepsy.

“In the United States, for example, they use recreational marijuana for medical use – that’s like making chicken soup when you have a cold,” Yuval Landschaft, head of the health ministry’s medical cannabis unit (IMCA), told the wire service. “We’re the ones making the antibiotics.”

The Israeli government recently voted to decriminalize recreational cannabis use. And last month it gave preliminary approval to the export of medicinal cannabis, a move that one of the bill’s sponsors says will boost the nation’s agriculture sector and overall economy.

“Only last year Canada and Australia approved exporting medical cannabis and many countries that did so before them are gaining large profits,” MK Yoav Kisch told the Jerusalem Post. “Israel is expected to gain over a billion NIS (around U.S. $275 million) from its taxation, according to recent research.”

And exporting medical cannabis, says Jeffrey Zucker, is going to have huge benefits for Israel.

“I think the United States is ahead of where most the world is in terms of cannabis regulation,” he notes. But internationally, he adds, the cannabis market is different.

“It’s very important to get into these markets at their early stages to see where they’re going,” says Zucker – who went to the Arcview Investor Forum in Barcelona, Spain before traveling to Cannatech. “You see where they’re going to grow, and in a different manner than in the United States.”

But Seedo’s Uri Zeevi warns that, as with any new and rapidly-growing market, you need to do your research.

“I know that many people try to take advantage of this trend; they think they can make money very fast,” he tells Blunt Network. “But the most important recommendation is make sure the business works and then make sure you can make money out of it.“