Israel’s Cannabis Culture is Focused on Innovation

clifton flack, israel, cannabis, technology, innovation

Israel does not have the luxury of a large domestic market, a population of 8 million does not make a billion dollar business. Israel does not have the luxury of free, fair and balanced open trade with the world.

What Israel does have, is an impressive track record of creating something special from nothing. Israel has an impressive roster of innovative companies, individuals, and opinion leaders. Israel has particular successes is Agtech, Hitech, Medtech, Fintech, Foodtech and all the other ingredients required to create something great from something as natural as the cannabis plant.

Much of the world is moving faster towards social cannabis acceptance, in most cases countries have forged fledgling medical cannabis programs and are busy watching and waiting for early data to come in.

In the past, cannabis culture has generally been recognized as that of the stoner community, the young student hippie types that waste their lives in a cloud of sweet smelling smoke. The counter-culture that attaches itself to icons such as Bob Marley, Che Guevara, and Cheech & Chong is the same anti-establishment rebellious community that has, for decades, been unable to convince the world of cannabis’ peaceful relationship with the planet.

However, cannabis culture has changed. Leading entrepreneurs, CEOs and politicians are less afraid of admitting their own cannabis past, especially with a new understanding and opportunity to embrace the therapeutic aspects of cannabis.

With the United States blazing a cannabis legalization trail, it’s no surprise the smart money is heading into the sizable recreational market that will be born from full legalization.

In Israel, the plant is still illegal. Medical cannabis patients do not receive a prescription. Instead, they are issued a certificate to possess an illegal substance. In Israel, like with most other industries, entrepreneurs, scientists and investors are seeking out new ways to innovate within the next big global economy, specifically focusing on the plant’s use and potential.

As a nation of only 8-million people, the prime objective of almost every Israeli business is to target overseas markets. These businesses understand the value in creating a monetizable solution over a mass market product.

Israel’s start-up national culture is a defacto result of our geo-political landscape. The need to think quick and execute faster, only pausing for a brief assessment before resuming full speed, has created a climate where failure in one venture is not only acceptable, it’s respected.

Mankind learns best from its own mistakes. In other cultures, the pressure on entrepreneurs can be so immense, it can actually be debilitating. Israel operates in quite a different way in that you’re not successful until you’ve overcome adversity.

The Israeli approach to any new concept, innovation, market or opportunity is a cautious one, but never with a dismissive attitude. Once caution has been removed through satisfactory discussion and research then the real innovation can begin.

As a nation of only 8-million people, the prime objective of almost every Israeli business is to target overseas markets.

Israeli’s will often not over-think the needs of the end-user. The main question we ask ourselves is simply ‘how can we make this better, more efficient, more effective, faster, smaller, more dynamic’.  In some cases, it may be an intuitive re-engineering of an existing solution. In other cases, it will be a radical ‘back to the drawing board’, resulting in groundbreaking technologies.

Today in Israel, entrepreneurs are asking themselves 2 cannabis business questions.

  1. What exists for other products that can be optimized for cannabis?
  2. What can we learn about the plant to help us create something new?

When cannabis innovation is examined, all business will fall into one of these two categories. All over Israel, the buzz is building and discussions happening. People are coming together to answer tough questions and to ask even tougher questions of themselves.

The long journey of education and knowledge is underway and Israel has the real potential to have a big voice in the future of the cannabis plant. The first step of this journey is building the cannabis innovation ecosystem, a platform where every stakeholder can share and collaborate together. Once we accomplish this, the sky is the limit.

What do you think about Israel’s innovative climate? How do you see companies outside the United States impacting the global cannabis culture? Join the conversation and comment below!

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