TAU Alumni are getting the Green Concept
The Tel Aviv University Alumni Organization integrates well with the hot local cannabis scene, with a large number of alumni dealing with the subject from its various aspects. The head of the organization, Sigalit Ben Hayoun, identified the potential and invited the most prominent of these alumni to a panel of experts, which filled the auditorium at the TAU Porter School of Environmental Studies.
The event was called "Getting the Green Concept", and the key speaker was the most senior alumni - Associate Director-General of the Israeli Ministry of Health Prof. Itamar Grotto, alumnus of the Faculty of Medicine. Grotto took a detour from his pre-prepared presentation, and preferred to speak from the heart, which provided a few newsworthy headlines for patients and the industry alike.
Prof. Grotto updated that the Ministry of Health considers import and regulatory relief on Cannabis for medical use, in order to meet the immediate and deficient needs in the local market. In his words:
"There are still doctors who have to go through the upheaval, from a research & science-based treatment to a worldview of medical treatment in a different approach. The issue creates opposition, naturally. Much of the treatment in Israel today is based on mass wisdom.
I do not think that Israel's advantage is to grow Cannabis faster or better, but the research and development aspects. This is our basis - to learn more and more about the plant and its ingredients, and the purpose of each ingredient to achieve personalized medical treatment.
The ministry has a database of all patients and types of use, and this information is intended to be accessible for researchers.
The regulation in the field is very strange. At the global level, Cannabis is considered a dangerous drug. In the USA it is not allowed to include it in drugs or supplements. But in practice there are many drugs that can be obtained online. Israel chose adapting to the public and market needs. We will try to promote Cannabis for medical use by trial and error. The method is licensing – from researchers through industry and all the way to patients using the products. The government requires medical level quality assurance and therefore the products shall be sold in pharmacies.
The current situation: In a short period of time, many growers and factories started out, a phenomenon that can only be seen in Israel. At the same time, there has been an increase in the number of patients from 40K to 60K, and there is not enough cannabis to satisfy local needs. At the Ministry of Health, we are trying to find solutions. We want more growers and more factories to enter the market, and this will happen in the near future. For this purpose, we are considering regulatory relief that will shift some of the responsibility to the manufacturers, as well as other adjustments which I can’t currently detail.
Prof. Grotto reviewed the challenges which the Ministry of Health is facing, including mapping identical genetic lines of Cannabis in order to create more accurate uniformity, maintain quality, ensure continuous supply including examination of temporary import, establish the caregiver-patient relationship, and test the current unity that is a little like cross subsidization, including a mix of insurances and health funds”. In conclusion, he declared that “Cannabis is like the Tel Aviv University slogan – Pursuing the Unknown. "
Tzali Greenberg, alumnus of the Faculty of Humanities and the Faculty Social Sciences, Journalist and Economic Commentator for Yedioth Ahronoth, Calcalist, moderated the panel of Cannabis Experts alumni:
Dr. Orna Drizin - alumna of the Lahav Executive Education program at TAU's Coller School of Management, Chairperson and CEO of Nexter and Chairperson of Nextage.
Elah Alkalay - alumna of the Faculty of Life Sciences, the Faculty of Medicine and the Coller School of Management, board chair of IBI Mutual Fund Management.
Erez Navon - alumnus of the Coller School of Management, Director at Cannbit.
Prof. Dan Peer - alumnus of the Faculty of Life Sciences, Head of the Cancer Biology Research Center and Managing Director of the TAU Center for Translational Medicine.
Major General Ido Nehushtan - alumnus of the Coller School of Management, Chairman of Kanashur.
Shiri Eden - alumna of the Coller School of Management, Nishot Strategy and Research founder and CEO and consultant to the Sela Cannabis mutual fund
During the panel IBI Mutual Fund Management board chair, Elah Alkalay, talked about the buzz in the capital market:
"Everyone sitting here knows that the market has room for growth. Pension funds have not yet entered the field, and most of the investments are from private or mutual funds traded on the Stock Exchange. Before the shrinking, we have reached a situation where a third of the Stock Exchange daily trading volume was from Cannabis stocks, which is phenomenal. The new situation is that the worth has been cut in half from the April 2019 peak.
What does that mean? The answer is guesswork. On the one hand we are looking at markets with sales potential of hundreds of billions of dollars per year, and on the other hand what will determine whether they will evolve is the pace of regulatory change and the speed of research and development. Regulation opens slowly in Israel, Development in the US and Mexico is expected, as well as in various European countries.
Quite a few of the funds raised at high tide in the markets are used for research and development, giving us good reasons for optimism. It is much more difficult to predict the future of a specific company, and given that we are dealing with regulation, the timeline is also blurred. What is clear today, as it was clear a year and two or three years ago, is that the potential is huge and the money already raised has been invested in the development and advancement of the industry”."