Technion to Open First Course in Medical Cannabis

The head of the Israel Anti-Drug Authority, who was arrested for alleged involvement in Yisrael Beiteinu scandal, will be one of the instructors.

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Medical marijuana buds being packaged in Israel.
Medical marijuana buds being packaged in Israel.Credit: Daniel Tchetchik
Noa Shpigel
Ido Efrati

The Technion – Israel Institute of Technology is planning to open a new course on medical cannabis in January.

The list of instructors for the course includes Yair Geller, director general of the Israel Anti-Drug Authority, who is embroiled in the Yisrael Beiteinu corruption scandal. Police recommended last month that charges be filed against him.

According to the Technion website, the course is geared toward entrepreneurs, doctors, investors and researchers. “This is the first comprehensive program in Israel for the general public in the field of medical cannabis, surveying the field from a wide range of angles by a long list of lecturers noted in their fields,” the website states.

The Technion - Israel Institute of Technology in Haifa.Credit: Yuval Tebol

Subjects include the historical background of cannabis, the legal and political background, the medical aspect, the business aspect and a section on agriculture. Another chapter looks at the practical side, such as how to work with cannabis farms and production processes.

Geller was arrested last December on suspicion of giving a bribe, having connections to crime, fraud, receiving a bribe under aggravated circumstances and breach of trust. He is suspected of giving a bribe to former MK Faina Kirschenbaum, in the context of the graft probe into the Yisrael Beiteinu party.

Despite being suspended from his position after his arrest, Geller officially remained the director general of the authority and received full salary and benefits for 10 months, until he agreed to suspend himself. MK Tamar Zandberg, chairperson of the Knesset Committee on Drug Abuse, has asked the state comptroller and attorney general to review Geller’s employment conditions.

Geller’s connection to medical cannabis is unclear. The authority he headed emphasizes the separation between marijuana for personal use and medical cannabis, and it has no real involvement in the medical cannabis industry in Israel. Geller comes to the field from a different background. He was appointed director general of the authority in 2008m after serving as director of the Israel Association of Community Centers, despite being the search committee’s second choice.

The Technion’s External Studies unit commented: “Yair Geller gives one lecture in the course on a topic in which he is considered a leading expert as director general of the Anti-Drug Authority. The Technion’s legal adviser vetted him and his check confirmed that there is nothing to prevent him from serving as a lecturer in this subject.

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