Israel: A Peek Inside the Israeli Knesset’s Special Committee on Medical Cannabis

iCAN (Israel) write……

We’ve heard about the FDA’s color-coded books. The “Redbook” contains the FDA’s guidelines about food safety. “Purple book” is all about licensed drug safety, and the “Blue book Memos” are the guidance memoranda about medical devices. Now, Israel offers some more color to the pallet with the creation of the “Green Book.”

The Green Book is the world’s first playbook for medical cannabis. Not only does it detail plans to commercialize and medicalize cannabis in Israel, it offers a sound model that can be adapted by other governments who want to usher cannabis into the realm of modern medicine.  

Saul Kaye, CEO of iCAN shares some takeaways from his experience contributing to the creation and development the Green Book. He answered some questions in the following interview.

How did you come to be involved in the Green Book project?

Well, it was a big honor to be invited to join the Knesset Special committee on medical cannabis.

I was brought in by Knesset Member Sharren Haskel to represent the business and commercial side of the medical cannabis field. Others, like Noam Chehanovsky, an expert on genetics and Professor Lumir Hanus an expert in cannabis chemistry, were brought in. We had a great team of highly skilled people. My background in pharma and retail experience, coupled with deep connections to industry players and patients, placed me right at the epicenter of cannabis reform. To be honest, it’s pretty awesome.


Saul Kaye with MK Sharren Haskel, MK Michael Oren, MK Amir Ohana & Miri Bohadana

Israel has gone through some major changes in their medical cannabis program recently. What was it like for you to be a part of that process?

First of all, it is inspiring to be part of the change and revolution that is happening across the globe. As a pharmacist, I have had many opportunities to shape the progress of pharmacy in Israel, but this was the first time that I had the full attention of Ministry of Health representatives. It was very refreshing to understand that there is a real desire on a government level to help the system function better and remove roadblocks to make some real progress in health care. Having a channel like CannaTech to push all that information out and help other global industry leaders connect, has opened up so much opportunity. As I said, it’s awesome.

In your opinion, what areas of current cannabis policy need further development?

For starters, it’s important to remember that the Green Book is only in its first draft, and its implementation is going to be a challenge. From a business perspective, both the patient base and grower/producer base have to expand in order for the cannabis economy to function. Opening up new grow licenses is only the first step. Other important factors, that still need to be addressed, are educating the doctors, growing the user base and optimizing and commercializing new grows.

Of equal importance, I would like to see government money dedicated to research. We’ve always led the pack in R&D; boasting more clinical studies on medical cannabis than anywhere else in the world. However, we need a lot more of it if we really want to bring reform and push medical cannabis towards mainstream medicine. Since pharma isn’t jumping to fund research, the government should do whatever it can to continue to accelerate our clinical understanding of this plant.

What role do you see iCAN playing in the greater story of Israel’s medical cannabis program and policies?

Here in Israel, iCAN is building the global ecosystem for collaboration in all verticals of this space. We serve to connect the regulator, patient, doctor, investor, entrepreneur, grower, chemist and activist through this ecosystem. That spurs good regulation throughout the entire system. We’re very excited about the progress we’re making and what’s still to come.

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Tim Morales – The Cannabis Industry Association Costa Rica

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Julie Godard
Carl L Rowley -Thompson Coburn LLP

Jerry Chesler – Chesler Consulting

Ian Stewart – Wilson Elser Moskowitz Edelman & Dicker LLP
Otis Felder – Wilson Elser Moskowitz Edelman & Dicker LLP
Lance Rogers – Greenspoon Marder – San Diego
Jessica McElfresh -McElfresh Law – San Diego
Tracy Gallegos – Partner – Fox Rothschild

Adam Detsky – Knight Nicastro
Dave Rodman – Dave Rodman Law Group
Peter Fendel – CMR Real Estate Network
Nate Reed – CMR Real Estate Network

Matthew Ginder – Greenspoon Marder
David C. Kotler – Cohen Kotler

William Bogot – Fox Rothschild

Valerio Romano, Attorney – VGR Law Firm, PC

Neal Gidvani – Snr Assoc: Greenspoon Marder
Phillip Silvestri – Snr Assoc: Greenspoon Marder

Tracy Gallegos – Associate Fox Rothschild

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Matthew G. Miller – MG Miller Intellectual Property Law LLC
Daniel T. McKillop – Scarinci Hollenbeck, LLC

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Gregory J. Ryan, Esq. Tesser, Ryan & Rochman, LLP
Tim Nolen Tesser, Ryan & Rochman, LLP
Cadwalader, Wickersham & Taft LLP

Paul Loney & Kristie Cromwell – Loney Law Group
William Stewart – Half Baked Labs

Andrew B. Sacks – Managing Partner Sacks Weston Diamond
William Roark – Principal Hamburg, Rubin, Mullin, Maxwell & Lupin
Joshua Horn – Partner Fox Rothschild

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Teddy Eynon – Partner Fox Rothschild