A delegation of Chinese businessmen and academic researchers in the fields of technology and agriculture is set to arrive in Israel next week to meet with Israeli cannabis researchers, hi-tech firms and pharmaceutical companies.
When it comes to medical marijuana-related research, Israel is considered a pioneer, with both the government and the academia actively participating in the industry for decades. Raphael Mechoulam, a professor of medicinal chemistry at the Hebrew University of Jerusalem, was the first person to identify tetrahydrocannabinol or THC, the main psychoactive constituent in marijuana.
The country’s relatively advanced regulatory framework when it comes to medical trials dealing with cannabinoids facilitates, is fast growing: over 70 startups developing cannabis-related technology and products currently operate in Israel, most of them established in recent years. Just last week, Tel Aviv-based cannabis inhaler company Syqe Medical Ltd. raised $50 million in a funding round.
A recent reform, soon to be approved by the government, would authorize the first Israeli export of medical marijuana.
The Chinese delegation's aim is to seek scientific collaborations, Ascher Shmulewitz, chairman of Israeli cannabis company Therapix Biosciences Ltd., said Sunday. Shmulewitz will be accompanying the delegation during its visit.
In October, Therapix entered into an acquisition agreement with Canadian company FSD Pharma Inc., but the acquisition hit a snag in December and its future is currently uncertain.
According to a report by New Frontier Data, a Washington-based market research and analytics firm specializing in the cannabis industry, China controls over a third of the global hemp market—though the US may soon join the competition, after US President Donald Trump signed a farm bill legalizing industrial hemp growth in the states. Hemp has a variety of uses today, from textile and construction materials to biofuel, health food and healthcare-related products.