An employee checks cannabis plants at a medical marijuana plantation in northern Israel March 21, 2017. Picture taken March 21, 2017.
(photo credit: REUTERS/NIR ELIAS)
Ashdod-based Cannassure Therapeutics might be a relatively new player in the budding Israeli medical cannabis field, but it has a unique edge on many of its competitors, courtesy of decades of soybean extraction expertise.
Cannassure is an offshoot of Solbar Food Technologies, a global leader in the field of agritech boasting nearly a half-century of experience in botanical extraction.
The knowhow in maintaining consistency and stability when extracting oils from soybeans on a huge scale for both animal feed and human food products also operated as a rare launchpad for high-quality cannabis oil extractions.
"In Israel, we have real added value in innovation and the use and creation of new technologies and capabilities," Nir Peles, chairman of the board of Cannassure, told The Jerusalem Post
"There are several large producers, but the majority of the value created in Israel is in innovation."
Cannassure is currently constructing a state-of-the-art 4,000 square-meter indoor cannabis growing facility at Solbar's existing Ashdod facility, and is set to produce Good Agricultural Practice-standard cannabis next year.
"Indoor growing has significant advantages in ensuring the consistency of the material compared to greenhouses," said Peles. "You can maintain humidity, artificial light and temperature. In a greenhouse, that is difficult to do."
Indoor growing is not common in Israel, with domestic production largely based on greenhouses with cannabis farmers cultivating the plentiful supply of Middle Eastern sun.
"We understand the consistency and stability of the plant that indoor growing allows - it is what the medical market will want," Ran Amir, Cannassure CEO and board member, told the Post.
"We estimate that the medical market will dictate that you need to control the whole chain. If you have one part of the chain that is subject to seasonality, you may have a problem claiming control of the whole process," said Amir.
In June, Cannassure signed a strategic distribution agreement with Hadassah Medical, to become the Jerusalem-based medical organization's exclusive supplier of Good Manufacturing Practice-approved, medical cannabis oil. Hadassah will distribute Cannassure's products under its own properietary brand, both in Israel and abroad.
Today, approximately 70 Israeli companies are sitting on a potentially lucrative, cannabis goldmine - but it is a goldmine that has continued to remain untapped as the government stalls regarding the approval of medical cannabis exports for reasons that are not clear.
While plans are in place to immediately seize the opportunity should exports be authorized, Cannassure has not been sitting idly by, waiting for the green light from the Knesset.
"We are examining a few other European locations for tech transfer, and the possibility of operating inside the European Union or another country that allows exports," said Amir.
"We believe that Israeli exports will be based on specific deals between customers and countries. Those manufacturers able to demonstrate that they control the whole production chain, and can stand behind the claims they make, will be able to export. Others will have problems," he added.
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