In major policy shift, Israel will allow sales of medical marijuana in pharmacies

Written By Emily Gray Brosious Posted: 07/28/2015, 02:29pm

The Israeli Health Ministry will allow medical marijuana to be sold in pharmacies alongside other prescription medications, according to Haaretz.

This policy change means Israeli medical marijuana patients will be able to fill their prescriptions at local pharmacies, rather than buying directly from growers and distribution centers.

The Pharmaceutical Society of Israel – which represents the country’s pharmacists— supports the move as a safer option than Israel’s current system where patients get their medical cannabis directly from growers.

Haaretz reports about 22,000 Israelis are currently eligible for medical marijuana. That number might increase sharply after this new medical marijuana policy goes into action.

Once medical marijuana is readily accessible for patients, more doctors will have the option of prescribing the drug, according to The Jerusalem Post.

The Israeli Ministry of Health, which issues medical marijuana permits to patients, is likely to experience a few growing pains handling the expected deluge of new patient permit applications.

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GROWING JOBS IN COLORADO

There’s more to cannabis and Colorado than the crowd that’s smoking it. La Junta, CO is expanding production for another variety of cannabis that’s highly profitable: industrial hemp, used to make rope, canvas and paper products.  There’s more to cannabis and Colorado than the crowd that’s smoking it. La Junta, CO is expanding production for another variety of cannabis that’s highly profitable: industrial hemp, used to make rope, canvas and paper products. (Photo: rockymountainhempassociation.org.)

Cannabis and Colorado tend to go hand in hand but for many it is because of the association with marijuana. There is, however, another variety of cannabis that hasn’t received the same amount of press, industrial hemp. Hemp is a cousin to marijuana but without all of marijuana’s psychoactive and addictive properties. Prior to the 1940s, hemp was used to make rope, paper and canvas among other goods. The Declaration of Independence and many Bibles were once printed on hemp paper. Today, one Colorado community is betting that industrial hemp can revitalize its town.

In April, the Whole Hemp Company announced that it is expanding its industrial hemp growing, processing and extraction facility to La Junta, CO. The project will take a long-vacant, big box retail location and repurpose it into a facility that will house up to 200 employees. After the announcement, Kashif Shan, CEO of Whole Hemp Company, said, “Whole Hemp Company is really excited to be in La Junta and has been overwhelmed by the support that the local community has already given.” Whole Hemp Company focuses on extracting cannabinoid (CBD) from hemp plants by using critical CO2 extraction. The CBD is then formulated and packaged for the nutraceutical and supplement industries. The potential of this compound could eventually lead to pharmaceutical applications and already has been approved by Brazil’s FDA equivalent Anvisa as a treatment to epilepsy.

After the extraction of CBD oil is complete, the company is then left with a fiber byproduct that can be refined into other raw materials. Once a region can produce 5,000 or more acres of industrial hemp, the doors are open for a bio-refinery. These bio-refineries can take the hemp fibers and create plastics, fuels, chemicals, pulp, packaging and textiles to name a few. Currently Whole Hemp Company plans to plant 250 acres in 2015 with plans to plant 3,500 to 5,000 acres in 2016.

2016 and beyond look to be exciting times for La Junta as they continue to rebuild the industrial hemp industry from the ground up. “As an economic developer, I am always looking for ways to improve the multiplier (number of times money circulates in the economy), and if we follow the value chain, the hemp industry has the potential to greatly increase the economic outlook for the Arkansas Valley,” explained Ryan Stevens, Director of La Junta Economic Development.

“La Junta and the surrounding communities are receiving direct jobs from the Whole Hemp Company and farmers are going to gain revenue from outdoor grow operations. The companies that follow Whole Hemp Company to extract the oils and refine the byproducts into other raw materials will create additional jobs,” Stevens added. “It is possible we will see additional manufacturers locate here in La Junta to be closer to their raw material sources. And then there are the indirect jobs that will come from all of these extra people having paychecks. Ultimately the community is able to capitalize on Colorado’s cannabis laws without opening our doors to marijuana.”

Whole Hemp Co. is a Colorado Limited Liability Company that is committed to producing CBD oil that is 100 percent U.S. grown and processed and 100 percent caustic solvent free.

La Junta Economic Development is committed to expanding the employment base in La Junta, CO by attracting new businesses and retaining and expanding existing businesses. For more information on La Junta Economic Development, please visit www.LaJuntaEconomicDevelopment.com, or contact Ryan Stevens at (719) 671-9499.

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Q&A: First Health Canada helps prosecute marijuana growers, then asks them for advice

Postmedia News files

Marc-Boris St. Maurice during the 2004 federal election, when he was leader of the Marijuana Party.

Montreal’s Centre de Compassion, a medical marijuana facility, was raided last year and subsequently shut down, its director Marc-Boris St. Maurice charged with trafficking. Yet, much to his surprise, Health Canada asked him for advice on the subject of medical marijuana, along with other black market medical marijuana growers and dispensers and members of Health Canada’s Bureau of Medical Marihuana Regulatory Reform, at a meeting in Ottawa Wednesday. They wanted to know how to grow, distribute and regulate the drug for medical purposes. The National Post’s Kristin Annable spoke to Mr. St. Maurice:

Q: Health Canada had an audience full of people who Ottawa has spent years trying to shut up and shut down. With this opportunity, what sort of questions did they ask?
A: Well I have the sheet right here, some examples are:
In an indoor installation would you use artificial or natural light?
Should you use hydroponic or natural soil?
What are the minimum requirements, in your opinion, for the person in charge of quality?

Q: And how did you answer those questions?
A: In my opinion the most important thing is the proficiency of the person, whether it is hydroponic or natural soil. Obviously, I prefer indoor because you can control the environment better. I think you would need someone with both microbiology experience and someone who has experience cultivating.

Q: Usually facilities like yours are at odds with the government. How does it feel to have Health Canada come to you looking for help?
A: That is the irony of the situation. Health Canada has come to court testifying against myself and other medical marijuana providers many times. Yet, now they are coming to us looking for information because they know it has value. Some people here have cases pending against them; are they going to testify against us after inviting us here?

Q: What were the people like who were there?
A: There were producers from all over the country. I think there was at least three from Toronto, some more from Montreal, Halifax, Guelph. The crowd was quite diverse, people in suits and ties, people in ponytails and leather hats, everyone from lawyers to old hippies.

Q: Over the years you must have developed quite the expertise on the subject.
A: Yes, we have always had to do it illegally. The positive is that they are acknowledging our level of expertise, which is a phenomenon.

Q: So how did they extend the invite to you?
A: Last summer, Health Canada announced that they were overhauling the whole medical marijuana access regulations and getting rid of personal production licenses. We went to a consultation at that time to discuss dispensing marijuana, where they announced that they would be giving out commercial production licenses to “compassion care” facilities to supply and legally produce it.

Q: So they decided that they want it produced commercially for medical use?
A: They said they would have a subsequent meeting to follow-up, which was this meeting. This was the first meeting that they have reached out to and recognized our expertise on the subject of production.

Q: And how did they conduct the meeting?
A: It was in a hotel conference room. We were broken up into three groups to discuss three themes: Quality, record keeping and security.

Q: Do you think the government understands what they are doing when it comes to growing marijuana?
A: No I don’t think they do. After 10 years of this, they are realizing that what we do is complex.

Q: What were the bigger concerns raised at this consultation?
A: Security. One thing they were asking was whether they should do criminal background checks for the producers. I’m of the opinion it would be wrong to exclude people who have a record of marijuana production, because they have the experience. It’d be like having a gay rights club and only letting straight people in.

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