At a government-sanctioned cannabis cultivation facility in northern Israel, located on a hilltop overlooking the ancient town of Galilee, researchers and medical marijuana experts at a company called Tikkun Olam (“Healing the World” in Hebrew) work together to develop a wide variety of cannabis strains designed to treat specific ailments. Most notable among their recent achievements is a brand-new varietal called Avidekel, which at 0% THC and 15.8% CBD provides all of the healing power of cannabidiol with no discernable high.
Medical marijuana has a long history in Israel. In 1964, a team led by Raphael Mechoulam, a professor of medicinal chemistry at the Hebrew University in Jerusalem, was the first to isolate and identify THC as the main psychoactive ingredient in the cannabis plant. In 1993, Israel initially permitted a small number of patients to use medical marijuana, and later became one of the first countries to set up a government-sanctioned program to oversee cultivation and distribution through the national health ministry.
Today, close to 10,000 Israelis rely on the whole-plant cannabis medicine provided by government-licensed growers. But why, you may be asking yourself, would anyone ever want to breed herb without the high?
That’s a good question. Most likely, nobody reading HIGH TIMES would ever intentionally seek out THC-free cannabis. But stop for a second and put yourself in the shoes of your elderly aunt or toddler-aged nephew – someone who’s never smoked a joint but sorely needs the profound anti-inflammatory properties of CBD – or even just someone who wants to keep working and driving while using one of the world’s safest and most effective pain-relief medicines. Suddenly, getting baked might seem more like an unwanted side effect than an actual benefit.
Of course, according to Zack Klein, head of development at Tikkun Olam, THC also has its own unique medicinal properties, and patients are best served by having a choice of many different varieties. So despite the welcome arrival of Avidekel, his company will be sure to keep breeding and growing high-THC strains as well.