Situated in an undisclosed location near Tzfat, northern Israel, is a government-approved medical marijuana plantation which was founded in 2004 by a retired biology teacher. Named Tikun Olam, the plantation has created a new cannabis strain which contains very low traces of tetrahydrocannabinol (THC), the main constituent in cannabis responsible for making people feel "stoned". By virtually eliminating THC in the new strain, Tikun Olam can now offer the drug's medicinal benefits to those patients who wish to keep a clear head.
Marijuana contains over 60 constituents named cannabinoids and though THC is the most famous due to its psychoactive effects, another important constituent is cannabidiol (CBD). CBD is believed by some researchers to offer anti-inflammatory benefits, thus offering the potential to relieve pain without making patients intoxicated, if the THC-to-CBD concentrations can be correctly balanced.
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The new strain of marijuana created at Tikun Olam does just that. Dubbed Avidekel, it contains less than one percent THC, compared to the company's most popular strain Erez, which contains 23 percent THC. Avidekel couples this with an increased concentration of CBD, said to be almost 16 percent. How real-world use of Avidekel compares to existing medical marijuana products designed to limit intoxication, such as the under the tongue spray Sativex, is still unclear.
Although many patients feel the intoxicating effects of THC to be a beneficial element of medical marijuana use, others find it a hindrance to performing every day activities and so welcome the opportunity to take the marijuana while maintaining sobriety.
"It's a huge advantage," said one of the ten patients to make use of the Avidekel strain in the last six months, while speaking to Reuters, "I can smoke during the day, function with a lot less pain and still be focused, work and drive. It is a great gift."
Recreational use of cannabis is prohibited under Israeli law, however the drug is currently used medically to treat roughly 9,000 people suffering from illnesses such as cancer, Parkinson’s disease, multiple sclerosis and Crohn’s disease.
The promotional video below sheds more light on the Tikun Olam plantation.