For many, cannabis is associated with smoking joints and getting stoned. For Ra’anana resident Rafi Cohen, co-founder and Chief Operations Officer of Day Three Labs, cannabis is a miracle from God, virtually unrivaled in the plant kingdom.
“The spectrum of active ingredients within the cannabis plant is far superior to most other plants,” Cohen told Israel365 News.
Day Three Labs was named for the Biblical day of creation on which God created plant life.
And Hashem said, “Let the earth sprout vegetation: seed-bearing plants, fruit trees of every kind on earth that bear fruit with the seed in it.” And it was so. The earth brought forth vegetation: seed-bearing plants of every kind, and trees of every kind bearing fruit with the seed in it. And Hashem saw that this was good. And there was evening and there was morning, a third day. Genesis 1:11-13
The work of Day Three Labs, a new operation launched in February 2020 just before the corona era began, is an example of how the people of Israel serve the world as or lagoyim – a light to the nations.
“Different diseases are treated with different parts of the plant and different compounds in strains of the plant vary,” Cohen shared. In the cannabis industry, Israel is known to be a significant research hub. “Israel is one of the bigger players. Researching cannabis on a molecular level was initiated at Hebrew University in the 1960s.”
In the US, the market is shifting, “from what used to be a taboo, semi-grey market for the consumption of marijana to a much more mainstream industry. Cannabis is thought to have many health benefits. Consumers are looking for [the health benefits of] cannabis derivatives; they aren’t interested in smoking a joint.
“A rapidly growing population has identified the cannabis plant as a supplement to a healthy lifestyle.”
Cannabis is beginning to be seen as an ingredient with health benefits, much like other superfoods. It’s good for the immune system, it can make you more alert, alleviate pain, help with sleep and more. There is, according to Cohen, a new and increasing perception that “cannabis is a healthy thing to consume. That is becoming a mainstream perception.”
With so many active ingredients in cannabis, figuring out which ones, and in which combinations, will achieve the targeted effect is the core of what Day Three Labs offers their clients. Cohen refers to these combinations as formulas.
All of the research and development for Day Three Labs is done in Israel by a team of Torah-observant Jews. “You tell us what effect you want to create and we will develop the formula to target that effect,” he explained.
“Metaphorically, we’re allowing the [benefits of the] plant to be exposed in ways they wouldn’t have been otherwise. We are allowing people to benefit from what Hashem (God) put in the ground and gave us the ability to cultivate, in ways they wouldn’t have [otherwise] been able to.”
The research in Israeli hospitals and universities focuses on developing medical applications of different cannabis derivatives to treat patients with a range of conditions such as epilepsy, Alzheimer’s, autism and fibromyalgia. “In the meantime, there are ways to apply this research for the benefit of the average consumer,” Cohen shared.
Day Three Labs specializes in working with consumer brands. They take the scientific knowledge being developed in the Israeli medical field and adapt it for companies that manufacture and market consumer products enhanced with active ingredients from the cannabis plant.
While use of cannabis-enhanced consumer products such as lotions, beverages and chocolate bars is virtually non-existent in Israel, it is much more common outside of Israel, especially in the US. According to Cohen, the consumer product market in Europe, Asia and South America is also rapidly growing.
Ironically, in the US, cannabis is labeled a Schedule 1 drug, considered to have no medical value and to have a significant potential for abuse. Cohen explained that, consequently, any US institution that receives Federal funding cannot legally engage in cannabis research.
Adding to the complexity, cannabis is illegal in only eight states. Everywhere else in the US, it is either completely legalized, decriminalized and/or permitted for medical use. “State-by-state, the rules are different. What you’re allowed to sell is different. It makes the industry very fragmented,” Cohen elaborated.
Cannabis research in Israel has been going on for a long time. Every research hospital and university engages in cannabis research for medical applications, but there’s no market. “Israel is the opposite. The market here, from a consumer product standpoint, doesn’t exist. It’s a highly regulated industry. You can’t sell it to anyone.
“Israeli companies have been trying to create international relationships, to market what is developed in Israel. Israeli researchers have to have an international partner to sell whatever is developed here,” he explained. The role of Day Three Labs co-founder and Denver-based CEO Joshua Rubin is to help Israeli companies integrate into the US market.
“The vision is creating the ultimate pipeline for Israeli innovation, to funnel Israeli innovation into the consumer product space in the US, Europe, Asia and South America by partnering with existing brands,” Cohen indicated.
Day Three Labs currently relies on bootstrap financing. “At the end of the day, in order to properly scale, you need financial backing. It is most certainly an opportunity, because the growth potential here is tremendous. At this point, we would entertain hearing from potential investors.”
Taking a larger view, Cohen explained that, “We are bridging the gap, sharing Israeli know-how so the world at large benefits. At the core, the goal is to utilize Israeli know-how to create healthier people.
“We are bringing something to the table that everyone values. To me that’s a huge kiddush Hashem (sanctification of God’s name), to bring the Israel conversation to the table in a way that’s not politically charged,” he concluded.