Researchers at a company in Tel Aviv, Israel claim to have developed the world’s first strain of non-“high”-inducing cannabis.
Says PRI: the company, Tikun Olam, also operates Israel’s only legal storefront marijuana dispensary. Avidekel is the name of its newest product. Zack Klein is the company’s head of development. He says the strain took 3 years to develop through crossbreeding, and has only been available for a few weeks. So far, only 10 patients have signed up to use it regularly.
Klein told Reuters, "Not all of the people can enjoy the high. For some of them, it's not what they want. So they use the new plant that has all the qualities, all the medicinal qualities of cannabis but without the high, without the psychoactive effect."
With 15.8% CBD and less than 1% THC, Avidekel may contain the world’s highest ratio of CBD to THC in any strain of cannabis. Cannabis has over 60 constituents called cannabinoids. Among them are CBD and THC. THC is best known for its psychoactive properties that induce the feeling of being "high". By contrast, CBD has anti-inflammatory benefits and doesn’t restrain the brain’s neural functions.
Professor Ruth Gallily of Hebrew University in Jerusalem has been studying CBD for over 12 years. She sees the potential in Avidekel.
"Cannabis plants enriched with CBD can be used for treating diseases such as rheumatoid arthritis, colitis, liver inflammation, heart disease, and diabetes,” she says in a Reuters video. She goes on to praise the substance for being inexpensive and having no side effects.
Another person also testifies. She is an unidentified female patient who has been using the drug since its release.
"…It's a huge advantage because it's very easy for me, now, to smoke during the day, and to function, work, and drive with a lot less pain and still be focused,” she says. “It is really a great gift."
Recreational use of marijuana is illegal in Israel. Medical marijuana, however, has been legal for about 10 years. The government of Israel highly regulates the market through the ministry of health.
Green Prophet traces Tikun Olam’s supplier to a farm in an undisclosed location in the north of Israel. Its 11 000 square meters of greenhouses and high-tech cultivation equipment are stringently monitored by the police. Transportation of products is handled with strict safety precautions.
When faced with the question of Avidekel’s growing popularity, Professor Raphael Mechoulam of Hebrew University is wary. Although he acknowledges the strain’s value as what could be the world’s first THC-free, CBD-enriched cannabis plant, he is mindful of the obstacles it faces in commercialization. “The [marijuana] industry is not very organized, so one cannot keep exact track of what each company is doing,” he explained.
Klein would seem to agree. According to PRI, he has received inquiries from a number of international growers, including some from the U.S. He thinks international collaboration would be difficult due to the sensitive nature of cannabis as a controlled substance.
Regardless of what the future holds, it appears the only current beneficiaries of Avidekel are the license-holding patients of Tikun Olam.