Why is so much smart foreign money flowing into Israeli medical cannabis companies?
More than 60% of Americans support full legalization of cannabis, and up to 90% support legalization of medical cannabis, according to latest polls. Despite this ringing endorsement from the American public and despite the rising number of states that are legalizing the use of cannabis in the US, smart American money continues to make its way from the US, towards Israeli “Medcann” (medical cannabis) companies. For example, in September 2017, the Canadian and US company Cronos Group Inc (TSXV: MJN) (OTC: PRMCF) Established International Low Cost Production in kibbutz Gan Shmuel in Israel.
There is a “push”, and a “pull” which can explain this.
The “Push” of cannabis operations out of the US arises from the conflict in the US between the welcoming approach to this industry adopted by a rising number of States, and hostile Federal Law, opposed in sentiment and in fact to the medical cannabis industry.
US investors committed to "Medcann" industry solutions are growing impatient with this state of affairs. Israel has authorized legal use of medical cannabis, and is considered by many to be leading the field in the medical cannabis industry.
The pull of money into Israel is rising sharply because the complicated US situation is well understood by Israel companies. These Israeli companies position themselves to provide unprecedented opportunities for US money to participate in Israeli based medical cannabis activities. In 2016, Cigarette giant Philip Morris International invested about $20 million in an Israeli based start-up "Syqe Medical" that had developed a metered-dose vaporiser of raw plants for medical use . Recently 3 million USD hedge fund money went into Cannabics Pharmaceuticals Inc. (CNBX) . Cannabics R&D is based in Israel and Cannabics received a new research license from the Israeli Ministry of Health for the Characterization of anti-tumor activity of cannabinoids. Another Israeli company, OWC Pharma, has reported market- ready Psoriasis topical treatment developed in Israel. The market cap of and OWC Pharma is about 56 million USD, and the Cannabics market cap is about 126 million US. These Israeli companies are successful in creating a strong and ongoing patent portfolio which provides monetizable and defendable assets for their investors, and creates patent barriers to competitors.
It’s not just US investors that are pushing into Israel, as Dutch based Barney’s farm signed on recently to invest 4 million $ in Medivie Therapeutic Ltd., which will be growing and dispensing medical cannabis under cooperation agreements which will include Intellectual Property Rights.
As Israel “Medcann” companies are surging forward, the alert US investor has noticed the following: The Israeli government and Israeli academia actively participates and supports medical cannabis research, which began in the 1960’s in Israel and is powering this multidisciplinary knowledge- driven subject. There is a virtuous coming together of progressive Israeli legislation regulating the entire medical cannabis supply chain from cannabis real estate, commercially growing cannabis, extracting the active products, formulation, delivery devices, clinical trials, treatment, manufacture, patient management and, very shortly, export.
In Israel there are well over 70 start-ups with unique technologies and innovations, 40 licensed doctors, more than 23,000 registered patients; Government funding is available for all layers of research, medicalization and training programmers for physicians.
The government has issued directives on Good Agricultural and Collection Practices, GMP standardization. The Israeli government publishes the unique “Green Book” to inform and update stakeholders.
In Israel, US investors can enjoy the benefits of cost effective applied research, reliable sources of good quality standardized cannabis plant strains and products. Israeli medical cannabis research is flourishing and the generated Intellectual Property patents are strategized here and protection extended worldwide. The clinical trial environment is friendly to medical cannabis trials, made to FDA standards, so that only the later stages of FDA approval need be carried out in the US.
Despite the barriers in the US and in other countries, the medical cannabis industry is here to stay and grow. International collaborations are win-win for all involved, investors, researchers, medical companies and more. But mostly such collaborations will benefit the millions of people for whom medical cannabis may be lifesaving. Our expert IP legal and patent guidance in cannabis innovation is essential for all US investors in this rapidly developing field.
Dr. Joe Wyse, Head of the Patent Department and Dr. Keren Hagai, Head of the life sciences department at Bressler Patent Attorney.
The writers' unique insights are gained from directing a US/Israel team of Patent attorneys, regulatory lawyers and investment specialists for US investors in the Israeli medical cannabis industry.