The United States has been taking a very apprehensive approach to cannabis industry, resulting in restrictive laws and fractured markets. While US cannabis programs inch forward, other countries are hastily exploring large scale cannabis technology operations. Cannabis genetics, agricultural efficiency, consumer hardware, and business software are all major facets of this emerging industry.

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CannaTech, a three day cannabis technology conference in Tel Aviv, just wrapped up and left the international investment community buzzing. Israel has long been a safe haven for cannabis research and development.

This second annual CannaTech conference shows that Israel intends to remain at the forefront of the cannabis industry by creating an environment in which businesses can comfortably operate. For the American cannabis industry to keep up, United States policymakers need to start acting now, beginning with increased research and eliminating legal discrepancies.

History of Cannabis Research in Israel

Israel has decades of cannabis research under their belt, beginning with Raphael Mechoulam’s identification of tetrahydrocannabinol’s psychoactive effects in 1964. Research has continued in Israel throughout the past half-century, revealing wonderful clinical data on cannabinoid structures and their effects on the endocannabinoid system.

Cannabis Reports has covered past studies from Israel, including our widely circulated article Cannabis Study: Full-Spectrum Extracts More Medically Effective than CBD Alone.

The Effectiveness of Isolated CBD Plateaus, While Whole Plant Extracts Do Not

The Effectiveness of Isolated CBD Plateaus, While Whole Plant Extracts Do Not

The government of the United States is seemingly unwilling to recognize international research as valid, even as clinical evidence pours onto their laps. Medical research is capital-intensive and without funding and support of the government, there is no way that the American cannabis industry can develop enough clinical data to be successful.

Investors Seeking International Cannabis Projects

There are still legal constraints that hold back the global cannabis industry, but the seed companies and tech developers working for cannabis in Israel are among some of the first with opportunities to secure major funding and establish themselves in the international marketplace.

Cannabis Testing at The Hebrew University of Jerusalem, Israel (source)

Cannabis Testing at The Hebrew University of Jerusalem, Israel

Investors wanting to get into the cannabis space while its early are paying particularly close interest to Israeli businesses right now. One Israeli start-up recently made a $20 million dollar deal with tobacco-giant Philip Morris to create consumption hardware for accurate dosing.

Huge players from other industries are eager to enter the cannabis space, and are seeking out the leaders in the cannabis industry, regardless of their international location.

Israeli Company Tikkun Olam has Bred and Submitted Strains for Many Clinical Studies

Israeli Company Tikun Olam has Bred and Submitted Strains for Many Clinical Studies (source)

Another company out of Israel, Tikun Olam, is a medical cannabis breeder and cultivator that has submitted strains to multiple high profile clinical studies. This is a perfect example of a company setting the international standard with foundational products and scalability.

How US-Based Cannabis Companies Can Keep Up

One advantage for American cannabis is that there are more legal patients and consumers than in any other existing market. Data analysts continue to raise the estimated value of the cannabis industry by 2020; the most recent headlines hovered around $44 billion.

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So what can America do to keep up? First things first, the legal climate needs to change, especially at the federal level. Cannabis is classified as a Schedule I drug, and is considered by policymakers among the most dangerous narcotics. This stubborn stance will continue to constrict any type of legal cannabis marketplace.

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Senators Kristen Gellibrand, Corey Booker, and Rand Paul (source)

Business and consumers should both be applying as much pressure as they can for change, and support all of the federal representatives that express positive options on cannabis. Even though sometimes it feels like a burden or a waste of time, writing, calling, or visiting your local representatives actually does make an impact.

Government representatives are supposed to be the voice of the people, and even if the system seems sluggish or even broken, they do listen when their voters communicate ideas.

Adopting the Existing International Standards

Another great strategy for American cannabis is to self-impose the international standards for traceability. Cannabis is emerging from prohibition and there are lingering practices that still keep the general public from feeling comfortable with the idea of widespread cannabis access.

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International systems are already recognized that can make cannabis transparent and safe, so the American cannabis industry just needs to proactively align our practices with these standards.

The most important thing for cannabis, in both the United States and abroad, is education and easy access to quality information. Confusing consumers with fractured or incorrect information is the sign of an immature industry, and unfortunately remains one of the biggest challenges of legitimizing American cannabis.

Businesses should be making reasonable claims when branding themselves and when speaking to investors behind closed doors. Outrageous promises hurt every part of our industry, and setting reasonable expectations keeps the trust flowing.

Press releases announcing “revolutionary products and concepts” can generate a lot of positive attention for a brand, but inflated statements and aggressive exit strategies will hold American industry back as international communities like Israel press on.

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