Canadian-Israeli Joint Venture: Medical Marijuana

July 4, 2014

3 min read

Licensed Canadian medical cannabis producer and distributor MedReleaf has partnered with Tikun Olam, Israel’s first and largest government-approved producer of medical cannabis to bring the Israeli company’s proprietary strains to Canadian patients.

Neil Closner, CEO of MedReleaf, told The Times of Israel how he got into the business.  “When I left [Toronto’s] Mount Sinai [hospital], I knew that I wanted to be part of a successful business, but I also knew that it would have to be a business in which we were helping people with the quality of their lives; to help improve the world, bit by bit,” he said.

Closner had no previous experience in medical marijuana, nor had he any previous personal exposure.  He was skeptical of the products benefits, viewing it as a legal excuse for patients to get high.

A trip to Tikun Olam’s facilities in Safed changed his mind.  He visited a nursing home where Tikun Olam had been conducting clinical trials of its product for two years.  He was impressed with the results.

“I went room to room, meeting with at least a dozen of these octogenarians, and each one of them told me their stories about how their lives were totally transformed by cannabis, most of which really blew my mind,” Closner recalled.

Senior after senior related how the medical cannabis changed their lives.  One Parkinson’s sufferer was able to return to painting after taking a single marijuana pill each day.  Another patient with dementia had needed round-the-clock care, unable to feed himself or even go to the bathroom alone.  After taking several capsules daily, he was once again able to do both.


“What really got me interested in accepting this new challenge with MedReleaf was when I realized the economic impact it could have,” says Closner. “As the baby-boomers in North America, and around the world, continue to age, I realized that we simply don’t have the caregivers to take care of each and every one, especially those who require around-the-clock-care. And, even if we did, the cost would be enormous.”

Closner decided the field was a worthy venture.  “After my time in that Israeli nursing home, I got back on the plane, saying to myself, ‘Wow, this business is legitimate. Let’s get back to Canada, fill out the forms for Health Canada, and let’s start improving lives,” says Closner.

Now, MedReleaf has an exclusive partnership with Tikun Olam, offering patients access to the latter’s full line of proprietary strains, including the Erez, Midnight and Avidekel strains.  The Avidekel strain is notable for its high cannabidiol (CBD) content, with only trace amounts of tetrahydrocannabinol (THC), meaning it is non-psychoactive.

Additionally, the two companies are collaborating on nearly two dozen studies in eight different leading hospitals across Israel.  Among them are Hadassah Medical Centre in Jerusalem, Wolfson Medical Centre in Holon, Sheba Medical Center at Tel hashomer, Meir Medical Center in Kfar Saba and Tel Aviv’s Sourasky Medical Centre.

Stephen Arbib, CEO of MENA Investment Network, the company behind MedReleaf, explained the motivation behind the partnership.  “With MedReleaf, what we’ve aimed for is a combination of Israeli ingenuity which has led that country to become a world leader in the research and application of medicinal cannabis, and Canadian growing experience and mastery, which is incomparable,” he said.

“Combining the strengths of these two great nations, we’ve created value which will provide tremendous benefits to doctors, researchers, and most important of all, patients.”

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