There was a loud knock on the door of Clifton Flack's house one early morning about two years ago. The founder and CEO of CiiTECH was surprised to find police officers standing there who asked him to accompany them for questioning. The reason: narcotics drugs import, no less. He sent himself small bottles filled with CBD-based oil from England, manufactured by the company he is heading. Flack's investigation ended with nothing. and law enforcement agencies had to admit that these are not "drugs".
There are two types of Cannabis; Marijuana and Hemp (Cannabis Sativa L). Medical Cannabis and street Cannabis found from Marijuana and contains high levels of THC (a psychoactive compound), CBD extracts have a virtually no THC and come from Hemp.
CBD as a compound is completely devoid of psychoactive effects. Unlike the THC component, getting high from CBD would be an impossible task.
"It's funny," says Flack. "A product that we legally manufacture in Europe, that you can go and buy freely - makes me a 'drug smuggler' here. The problem began years ago, when no-one could tell the difference between the various parts of the Cannabis plant. There are over 400 compounds in the plant, but it was classed as a drug because it was seen as a whole plant that includes THC that can make you high. They never differentiated between the different plants or the different compounds. CBD extract is beneficial to the health of many and Hemp is used to manufacture bags".
"Thanks to research, we now know that CBD is responsible for almost all of the medicinal effects. THC has just a little of this capability. Today it is possible to extract pure compounds and produce THC free extracts, however Israeli law still looks at Cannabis as a whole and, accordingly, completely disapproves it. The result is a product developed in Israel, a global leader of cannabis research, can only be sold outside the country, especially in Europe. It's like looking at the concept of 'beer' as a whole and ignoring the fact that there is a very intoxicating beer with 10% alcohol, a regular beer with 5% alcohol and 0% alcohol beer - that can even be sold to children".
The paradox described by Flack is not the only claim he has about the erroneous view of the plant. Even the positive adjective "medication" for cannabis infuriates him. "Cannabis is not a medication", he explains. "If a person suffers from dehydration and you give him water to drink – you are not going to say that water is a medication for dehydration, right? You take the water as it is - a chemical compound – it would be ridiculous if a doctor prescribed it to those in need. That's exactly where Cannabis is now. The status improved with the introduction of a "Medical Cannabis" program, however the system has many restrictions and few doctors can prescribe it for their patients. But Cannabis is not a medicine, even though it is treated as such".
"The result is setting an obstacle course for cannabis: the complicated bureaucracy, the high price, the queue for the few doctors who can prescribe it. This Medical Cannabis is made from Marijuana which contains THC that makes you high. Even if a patient is granted a license they are likely to end up stoned on the couch. Allowing patients access to EU approved CBD with less than 0.2% THC gives the patients an alternative option, one without psychoactive effects".
"The problem exists all over the world. Australia, Germany, Poland, Greece, and UK have all passed Medical Cannabis laws but they have difficulty in implementing it. Many states in the USA no longer have these issues as they have now fully legalized cannabis, allowing users to consume it for pleasure as well. In Canada cannabis was only approved for medical purposes. It didn't work well so they fully legalized it too".
But it's still better than nothing, isn't it? A doctor can prescribe cannabis for a patient who needs it
Flack: "True, but there are major obstacles in the Medical Cannabis system. It is hard to obtain a doctor’s license and many doctors have zero incentive to prescribe for a simple reason: For them, there is not enough supporting evidence about the long-term effects and side effects of cannabis. Entrepreneurs and lobbyists are seeking ways to change the situation, investing in research and trying to change laws so that cannabis can be provided to all patients ".
10 milligrams of CBD per day can help everyone
Despite all this, CiiTECH executives are optimistic and believe it is a matter of time before cannabis becomes legal. Meanwhile, the company is focused on producing a line of CBD-based products that comply with European guidelines, and selling them in Europe: liquids, capsules, edible items and more. "The products are defined as supplements rather than medications. About 30% of our users use them for anxiety and insomnia, 30% use them for chronic pain and 40% use them for skin and digestion problems and other problems. We see the efficiency with our repeat customers - Over 70%", says Eli Whiteman, VP Business Development at CiiTECH.
"We believe that someday, as supplements and vitamins are blended into milk and other food and consumption products, the same will happen with CBD. We have already developed coffee and tea which contain CBD .It is not psychoactive and there is no reason not to treat it as a food supplement like Omega 3."
In the meantime, CiiTECH focuses on markets where it is allowed to market its products and is looking forward for the day that Israel will not only be its development center, but also a market in which it will be able to sell.
"There are approximately over 50,000 cannabis patients in Israel. CiiTECH has more customers than that," says Whiteman. "The ability and uniqueness of our company is to serve tens of thousands of people around the world with nutritional supplements and provide them with an excellent CBD product for the body. Thousands of people in countries like Israel cannot use CBD and if so have to wait for a doctor's appointment. In Europe they can just go into the store and buy our product to address their problem".
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