Is Israel a Cannabis Superpower?
by Aerez Batat
I found myself a bit surprised during a meeting I had today with Hanna, a cannabis expert who worked at one of Washington's leading cannabis farms. When I mentioned I am Israeli, she seemed excited. "Israel is a world leader in the research of marijuana," she said. "You guys have been doing it for a long time."
I have heard this claim a lot lately. Israel's Minister of Agriculture, Uri Ariel, has recently declared Israel as a cannabis superpower. Yuval Landshfet, who leads the medical marijuana department for the Israeli ministry of Health, claimed that while other countries are focusing on the manufacturing of cannabis for recreational use, Israel has been focused on enhancing its medical-grade products.
Still, I wondered if these claims were true. What exactly is Israel's industrial advantage in the field of cannabis?
As it turns out, I was not the only one wondering. The Danish Minister for Public Sector Innovation, Sophie Løhde, recently visited with Mr. Landshfet in Israel. After three days of touring the various research and development facilities, they sat down for dinner, during which the Israeli team hoped to lay the foundation for a medical marijuana export deal with the Danish. Ha'aretz, one of Israel's leading newspapers, reported that the young Danish politician surprised the attendees by saying that "we have a lot of money in my country" and that "we plan to do the same research you have done".
Mr. Landshfet, the newspaper reported, rose from his seat in anger. "Stealing from us?" he responded with disbelief. "I am very happy you came" he added, "and I am even happier you are leaving."
Stealing what, I wondered? What does Israel have that other countries do not? The claim is that Israel leads cannabis research by 5-7 years. The genes of specific strains have been fully mapped so that various molecules can be extracted, genetically engineered, and potent, accurate medical drugs can be developed from them. But how close is Israel to the actual manufacturing of effective cannabinoid medication for various physical and mental illness? The current Israeli product offered for export is dried, medical-grade bud, and the process of researching, developing, testing and approving new meds is sluggish and cumbersome. What exactly did Mr. Landshfet try to sell the government of Denmark?
Israel has spent extensive resources on research led by some of the worlds leading minds, such as 86 years old Professor Raphael Mechoulam (who discovered THC in the 60's, and still consulting researchers). But, as the Danish minister said, there is no shortage of money in Denmark, and money can buy time in more than one way. Experiential knowledge can only be obtained during research; importing cannabis, then, is a lethal injection for localized research in countries that are interested in understanding the unique plant. Simply put, Mrs. Løhde was not convinced that Israel had a tangible product to offer in the short to medium term.
She is right. During the last six years, I lead research in Practical Metaphysics aimed at understanding the impact of THC on the human mind. Notice I said the mind, not the brain. What is the impact of THC on our time perception? What happens to the acuteness of our senses? Why does the plant eliminate anxiety for some and increase it for others? What happens to our short-term memory? What changes in our spoken language?
In short, what happens to our conscious perception of reality when we smoke marijuana?
Researching which brain receptors cannabis triggers in an attempt to understand its effect on the mind is like researching cheek muscles in an attempt to understand humor. To know what cannabis does to the brain, we must map its active ingredients. To find out what cannabis does to our conscious perception of reality, we must alter our consciousness using cannabis. Some things can only be experienced directly; we all have access to one mental perception – our own. Without direct experience, how would we know – for example – how our time perception has changed while high?
We won't. Worse – without ingesting THC, we won't know what questions to ask. He who researches the plant under a microscope without directly experiencing its effects can be equated to a man who helps delivering a baby in an attempt to experience child-birth. There is very little academic research on marijuana that involves direct, long-term, systematic ingestion of the substance, while reflecting on its immediate mental impact.
Enters the free-market marijuana industry. There is no faster learner than a capitalist commerce during its infancy. Marijuana research has exploded in the past four years due to legalization in the Western United States. America, not Israel, is the world’s unofficial leading researcher of marijuana. As a sovereignty, it doesn’t even know it yet; those who are in the industry, however, know this very well. The free market left academic research in the dust the second the ballots were counted. A massive industry is flourishing, producing high potency buds that can compete – and often surpass – medical grade products. Furthermore, opening the market allowed metaphysicists who are trying to solve the riddle of consciousness to leap forward in their research. Cannabis, it turns out, is an effective tool to temporarily change one's perception of time; this has turned the consciousness-research from theory to practice. Time, it turns out, is the hidden dimension of consciousness; by changing our perception of it, we can track the other changes to our perception of reality and slowly reveal the mechanism of the mind.
I invite you, Mrs. Løhde, to visit Consciousness Research Institute, in Spokane, WA, where I will demonstrate what happens when you let those who are in love with the plant to grow it themselves. In three days, I will give you firsthand experience of the impact cannabis has on a human's consciousness. We will sit together and smoke, and I will demonstrate to you – experientially – what happened to your time perception, and how your space perception changed as a result. I will clarify what happened to your short-term memory, and to your language, which would morph according to the Indica/Sativa strain ratio I will select specifically for your unique mental polarity. Perhaps most importantly, I will show you how the change in time perception is the hidden variable that is causing every mental un-ease, to include anxiety, autism, dyslexia, dementia, and even schizophrenia.
And then, Mrs. Løhde, you'll know if Israel has something to sell Denmark.