Israel's first academic medical cannabis training center opens in Yeruham

CannAcademy's first 4-day intensive course at Sapir College certified all 56 of the pharmacists who had applied.

CANTEK-brand medical cannabis in at their indoor growing facility in Mavki'im, in southern Israel. (photo credit: RAPHAEL KADISHZON)
CANTEK-brand medical cannabis in at their indoor growing facility in Mavki'im, in southern Israel.
(photo credit: RAPHAEL KADISHZON)
Israel's first medical cannabis research and training facility, the GreeNegev CannAcademy, opened last week in the relatively small and isolated southern local council of Yeruham, in the Negev desert.
The center was opened in collaboration with the Sapir Academic College off-campus studies division, the Health Ministry's Medical Cannabis Unit (MCU) and the Yeruham Local Council.
According to the center, all 56 of the pharmacists who took part in the first four-day intensive course successfully completed their training and passed their final exams.
During the course, pharmacists and other medical practitioners learned about cannabis regulation and its legal status, the mainstays of the medicalization reform and its objectives, quality control at all stages of the supply chain from growth, production, distribution, security measures, training, pharmacist questioning, the prescription process and contact with the patient.
In addition, course participants were taught different topics regarding the science behind the cannabis plant: botany, pharmacology, pharmacokinetics, R&D principles, principles of proper use, the unique qualities of each of the various commercial preparations and methods of administration, how to tailor the best treatment for a patient, prevention of side effects and addiction, the export potential of Israel's cannabis market and its plans for the future.
The CannAcademy Center is planning to, in the future, offer a variety of courses and professional training in the fields of quality, security, supply chain and logistics, research and development and international trade, all of which will be held in the Yeruham and adapted to the medical cannabis industry.
Director of the Practical Engineering and External Studies Center at Sapir College, Dudu Shlomo, told The Jerusalem Post that Health Ministry chose to work with Sapir College specifically since they had already been offering courses on cannabis sciences and the cannabis industry for over a year, in conjunction with the Health Ministry's MCU.
Director of the Practical Engineering and External Studies Center at Sapir College, Dudu Shlomo. (Photo credit: Adva Odeya Ogen)Director of the Practical Engineering and External Studies Center at Sapir College, Dudu Shlomo. (Photo credit: Adva Odeya Ogen)
Israel's coming cannabis legalization market has left some worried that the harsh regulations on cannabis production may disproportionately impact Israel's Bedouin community, which has had a long history of supplementing itself financially with illegal cannabis sales in Israel, evidenced by a recent crackdown on illegal farms in the Negev area.
In one famous example, after Myanmar's government cracked down on opium sales without addressing the harsh economic conditions which caused rural farmers to grow fast-growing, high-profit poppy farms, many in the country turned to growing and trafficking in harder drugs, leading Myanmar to become the world's largest supplier of illegal methamphetamines (a local derivative of crystal meth, often referred to as "Yaba").
Shlomo addressed the issue, noting that within their biotechnology department - of which he says 40% of students are Bedouin - Sapir plans on adding an internship route for specialization in medical cannabis biotechnology.
According to Shlomo, graduates of the program will be figures who instigate change. "Once they return to their communities and see that medical cannabis can now be grown legally, I hope and believe that some sort of leadership there will form and instigate a change," he told the Post.
"We are also in the process of working with the Welfare and Agriculture Ministries to build mediation centers within the Bedouin community, where local community leaders trained in conflict mediation and logistics, so they can resolve problems within their community and cooperate with Israeli authorities," Shlomo added. "We want to turn this isolated part of Israel into Israel's Silicon Valley."
Director of the CannAcademy training program, chemist Boaz Albo (M.Sc.), said in a statement that "the purpose of [the program] is to develop an ecosystem in Yeruham for the medical cannabis industry that will promote innovation and initiatives in agriculture, technology and medicine."
Yeruham Local Council head Tal Ohana said in a statement that "Greenegev's vision is already a reality!"
She elaborated on the agricultural makeover that her region has seen in the past year, saying that "Within one year, we established a technological incubator and a research lab, we promoted the marketing of agricultural greenhouses in industrial areas; we approved areas for industrial factories through the Economy Ministry; and together with Sapir College, we've built an academic training partnership."
"We believe that the foundation for any quality industry begins with quality professionals, who will receive the theoretical training and the best practical tools to perform their job," Ohana said, thanking her partners. "Thanks to all this, Yeruham will gain a renewed economy that strives to bring innovation to the field of medical cannabis, pharma, and the fastest-growing market in the world."
"At the training center we see the importance of the multidisciplinary diversity of the medical cannabis industry, which contains content from the fields of agriculture, nature, science, technology, medicine and more, all of which interface and integrate together into a unique and innovative world of knowledge," Albo added. "That's why, during the training, we strive to give each participant a broad scope of the industry, while also providing them with professional tools that come from all of these content worlds."