fbpx

Ep. 370: Rafi Gamson, IQC

Cannabis Economy Podcast
Ep. 370: Rafi Gamson, IQC

Ep. 370: Rafi Gamson, IQC

Rafi Gamson joins us and highlights the immense competition that’s growing in the Cannabis Production Market: “The investment is so big, I don’t believe so many farms will actually enter the market because it’s an open market. It’s not regulated. The market will regulate itself. The good ones will survive. The bad ones will actually naturally leave the business. After investing so much money, it would be stupid to enter if you are not the best. “

Transcript:

Raffi Gamson: My name is Raffi Gamson.

Seth: Yeah.

Raffi Gamson: I manage the Agriculture Department at IQC, which is the Institute of Quality and Control of Israel. It's the largest private certification body in Israel.

Seth: Here we are. And thank you for having me to your offices.

Raffi Gamson: You're welcome.

Seth: You regulate, if you will, many things, right?

Raffi Gamson: We certify ... I do prefer that term.

Seth: There we go. Because that's what it is. That's the appropriate term.

Raffi Gamson: Okay.

Seth: Yuval regulates. [crosstalk 00:01:25]

Raffi Gamson: Exactly. We audit and inspect and if the auditee, if the producer complies with the requirements he gets a certificate based on procedures of certification.

Seth: Mm-hmm (affirmative). Okay. And you do this for cannabis and you do this many other industries as well.

Raffi Gamson: For tomatoes, for peppers, for citrus, for herbs. Any food that's produced on land.

Seth: For instance, what's happening right next door, in this wall, right on the other side of this wall.

Raffi Gamson: On the other side of the wall is the department that handles processed food.

Seth: Uh-huh

Raffi Gamson: We do pre-farm gate. They do post-farm gate.

Seth: Yeah. So within the same organization.

Raffi Gamson: Of course.

Seth: What are they going through right now as we speak?

Raffi Gamson: Right now we're in the process of being assessed by the Dutch accreditation authority. Assessing our actions and our procedures and our way of doing the certification activities just to make sure that what we're doing is right and proper and we get the authority to actually deliver certificates from this assessment and from this accreditation.

Seth: There we go. So that's happening for food from the Dutch government. You've got a certification on the wall, which is signed by my friend Yuval Lancheft for cannabis.

Raffi Gamson: We have a certificate from the Dutch government as well.

Seth: Of course.

Raffi Gamson: For ISO 17065, which is product certification regulations. Based on this Dutch accreditation we got a license from Yuval Lancheft from the Ministry of Health of Israel to actually audit and certify IMC gap, which is the Israeli medical cannabis good agricultural practice standard.

Seth: Now how long has that been going on?

Raffi Gamson: The standard was actually published a year and a half ago.

Seth: Right. After quite a bit of work.

Raffi Gamson: After a big work and made a big difference in the market. The first certificate was actually issued two weeks ago to one of our clients, was the first cannabis farm actually certified for the new IMC gap.

Seth: Mm-hmm (affirmative). As far as the Israeli government is concerned, boom. Two weeks ago, we got our first person in. Okay.

Raffi Gamson: Exactly. Within these two weeks, three farms have actually reached the deadline of getting a certificate after spending a lot, a lot of money in actually upgrading the farm facilities and farm practices to the new standard.

Seth: Let's dive in, go all the way back to the beginning of this process.

Raffi Gamson: Okay.

Seth: Right, so we have established that you already are accredited by the Dutch government and Yuval, did Yuval call you or did you call Yuval?

Raffi Gamson: I'll give you just a brief short history.

Seth: Right.

Raffi Gamson: About six years ago Mr. [Omal Zidan 00:04:25], which is the Deputy Manager of the Extension Service of the Ministry of Agriculture, contacted me as an expert in good agricultural practices and asked for help in bringing the eight farms, which were licensed in Israel to a certain level of standard. To bring them to the same level or as much as possible.

Seth: Mm-hmm (affirmative).

Raffi Gamson: We actually found the checklists on the web from the ... it's a Dutch checklist for good agricultural practices for cannabis and we translated it into Hebrew and actually upgraded it to the local practices. Six out of the eight farms actually volunteered to be assessed. This took place for around I would say two years or three years and brought some order into the mess because every farm did whatever they want and it was actually a big ... it was a very big difference between the eight farms.

Seth: Mm-hmm (affirmative).

Raffi Gamson: And this brought them to a very, very basic level of standard, but it's still very basic.

Raffi Gamson: My name is Raffi Gamson.

Seth: Yeah.

Raffi Gamson: I manage the Agriculture Department at IQC, which is the Institute of Quality and Control of Israel. It's the largest private certification body in Israel.

Seth: Here we are. And thank you for having me to your offices.

Raffi Gamson: You're welcome.

Seth: You regulate, if you will, many things, right?

Raffi Gamson: We certify ... I do prefer that term.

Seth: There we go. Because that's what it is. That's the appropriate term.

Raffi Gamson: Okay.

Seth: Yuval regulates. [crosstalk 00:01:25]

Raffi Gamson: Exactly. We audit and inspect and if the auditee, if the producer complies with the requirements he gets a certificate based on procedures of certification.

Seth: Mm-hmm (affirmative). Okay. And you do this for cannabis and you do this many other industries as well.

Raffi Gamson: For tomatoes, for peppers, for citrus, for herbs. Any food that's produced on land.

Seth: For instance, what's happening right next door, in this wall, right on the other side of this wall.

Raffi Gamson: On the other side of the wall is the department that handles processed food.

Seth: Uh-huh

Raffi Gamson: We do pre-farm gate. They do post-farm gate.

Seth: Yeah. So within the same organization.

Raffi Gamson: Of course.

Seth: What are they going through right now as we speak?

Raffi Gamson: Right now we're in the process of being assessed by the Dutch accreditation authority. Assessing our actions and our procedures and our way of doing the certification activities just to make sure that what we're doing is right and proper and we get the authority to actually deliver certificates from this assessment and from this accreditation.

Seth: There we go. So that's happening for food from the Dutch government. You've got a certification on the wall, which is signed by my friend Yuval Lancheft for cannabis.

Raffi Gamson: We have a certificate from the Dutch government as well.

Seth: Of course.

Raffi Gamson: For ISO 17065, which is product certification regulations. Based on this Dutch accreditation we got a license from Yuval Lancheft from the Ministry of Health of Israel to actually audit and certify IMC gap, which is the Israeli medical cannabis good agricultural practice standard.

Seth: Now how long has that been going on?

Raffi Gamson: The standard was actually published a year and a half ago.

Seth: Right. After quite a bit of work.

Raffi Gamson: After a big work and made a big difference in the market. The first certificate was actually issued two weeks ago to one of our clients, was the first cannabis farm actually certified for the new IMC gap.

Seth: Mm-hmm (affirmative). As far as the Israeli government is concerned, boom. Two weeks ago, we got our first person in. Okay.

Raffi Gamson: Exactly. Within these two weeks, three farms have actually reached the deadline of getting a certificate after spending a lot, a lot of money in actually upgrading the farm facilities and farm practices to the new standard.

Seth: Let's dive in, go all the way back to the beginning of this process.

Raffi Gamson: Okay.

Seth: Right, so we have established that you already are accredited by the Dutch government and Yuval, did Yuval call you or did you call Yuval?

Raffi Gamson: I'll give you just a brief short history.

Seth: Right.

Raffi Gamson: About six years ago Mr. [Omal Zidan 00:04:25], which is the Deputy Manager of the Extension Service of the Ministry of Agriculture, contacted me as an expert in good agricultural practices and asked for help in bringing the eight farms, which were licensed in Israel to a certain level of standard. To bring them to the same level or as much as possible.

Seth: Mm-hmm (affirmative).

Raffi Gamson: We actually found the checklists on the web from the ... it's a Dutch checklist for good agricultural practices for cannabis and we translated it into Hebrew and actually upgraded it to the local practices. Six out of the eight farms actually volunteered to be assessed. This took place for around I would say two years or three years and brought some order into the mess because every farm did whatever they want and it was actually a big ... it was a very big difference between the eight farms.

Seth: Mm-hmm (affirmative).

Raffi Gamson: And this brought them to a very, very basic level of standard, but it's still very basic.

Seth: Okay.

Raffi Gamson: Two years ago I was contacted by Yuval Lancheft and he said to me, "Well, you're already in the business so why don't you write a standard for medical cannabis growing?" But because-[crosstalk 00:05:51]

Seth: Beyond the standards that you had already written.

Raffi Gamson: We had a very basic checklist. It wasn't really a standard.

Seth: Understood.

Raffi Gamson: Okay. So we started to cooperate with another Israeli company, another Israeli certification body and together we actually produced the beginning of a standard, a good agricultural standard that was revised by the Ministry of Health, by the Ministry of Agriculture, eventually I think in May 2017 the standard was actually published.

Seth: Okay.

Raffi Gamson: The new standard, which is way beyond what the farmers were used to.

Seth: Okay. And so then now you go back to your friends, the farmers, who you had already worked with and said, "Good news. You were okay with the checklist when I last spoke to you. Here's some more good news. Here's some new standards."

Raffi Gamson: You will have to spend a lot of money and a lot of work in your infrastructure, in the way of growing, in the way of recording your activities, in the way of saving the data, and actually raising much more the level of production in order to achieve the standard to achieve a certificate.

Seth: Forgive me for going back here, but as far as this heightened level of standard, I know that I've spoken with Yuval in the past and he said, "We want to be the best and we want to be the greatest." But what were the checkpoints around the globe to make sure, to ensure that you were the top.

Raffi Gamson: The standard was based on three documents.

Seth: Okay.

Raffi Gamson: It's based on this Dutch checklist from 2002.

Seth: Right. Got it.

Raffi Gamson: It's based on the WHO Guidelines for Medical Herbs, which is a big, fat book.

Seth: Mm-hmm (affirmative).

Raffi Gamson: And it's based on the global gap integrated farm insurance standard, which today is the most common standard in agriculture in the world.

Seth: Mm-hmm (affirmative). Was there anything else that you added on top of these three pillars so to speak?

Raffi Gamson: No, we took these three documents and actually produced one document that took into consideration all three documents and actually gave the farmers that were doing their way of growing cannabis, giving them one high standard to comply with.

Seth: What was their ... so you said six of eight volunteered. Did the other two come along?

Raffi Gamson: I don't know. They're not my clients.

Seth: Fair enough. So we know about six of eight. So let's just talk about six of eight.

Raffi Gamson: It's a competition. It's a free market.

Seth: Yes. There's one other accreditation body besides you, right?

Raffi Gamson: Certification body.

Seth: Certification. I keep getting the word wrong. Again, these six of eight, you go back to them and you say, "Here's the new rules, folks." What was their reaction?

Raffi Gamson: Four of them signed the contract with ITC. Two of them went to the competitor.

Seth: I see.

Raffi Gamson: So I presume he certifies four and we four so the market is divided by itself, but the standard is not only for those eight. It is for the future.

Seth: Right. Of course.

Raffi Gamson: Last year, or two years ago, more farmers actually applied for getting licenses for growing cannabis and the Ministry of Health actually turned them down. So they went to the Supreme Court and they got a rule, you cannot give one a license and the other one not. Actually this is the base for this whole reform in the market.

Seth: Mm-hmm (affirmative).

Raffi Gamson: Yuval actually declares that every farmer that would want to grow cannabis, medical cannabis legally can get a license on the ground of complying with the high standard of IMC gap.

Seth: There we go. And how many more are now coming to you beside the four plus four, so to speak?

Raffi Gamson: There's many applications.

Seth: Okay.

Raffi Gamson: To Yuval because before they come to us they have to get a producer registration number. This registration number is based on proving the ownership of the land, proving they have no prior record, police records, criminal records. After they do prove these two requirements, they can get a registration number. After they get this number they can apply for certification to one of the two certification bodies.
We have had like 20 applications, additional 20 applications since the standard was published. We have a lot, a lot of people interest, but not actually signing a contract because I think they're still waiting to know if the export of medical cannabis will be approved or not.

Seth: Okay.

Raffi Gamson: This is the break point because if it's approved many farmers will join the market and if not, I believe the market will stay very basic.

Seth: So this brings us to a fork in the road, so to speak and I'd like to talk about the Dutch and I'd like to talk about, I guess, the Prime Minister, right? Because Prime Minister Netanyahu kind of put the kibosh on export at least for the time being. Is that an accurate accounting of what has happened?

Raffi Gamson: Well, my knowledge is from the media just like yours.

Seth: Okay. This is what both of us has heard.

Raffi Gamson: I don't have any direct contact with the Prime Minister.

Seth: Fair enough.

Raffi Gamson: I hear that. In Israel the local market is about 30,000 patients. Actually having license to consume medical cannabis for their disease [crosstalk 00:11:53], whatever. The Ministry of Health, Yuval Lancheft, has published a good clinical practice and has trained a hundred and something doctors to actually prescribe a prescription to go to the drugstore and buy medical cannabis. This is the whole big difference.

Seth: Sure.

Raffi Gamson: I think the market will change, the local market, but it will really make a big difference if the export of products will be approved much more farmers will join the train.

Seth: And we simply just don't know what will happen, when it will happen.

Raffi Gamson: [crosstalk 00:12:30] would know. If I would know, I wouldn't be in this chair.

Seth: Let's get to the Dutch because they are exporting. I've spoken with [Challing Urklinse 00:12:39] who has by some accounts the largest production of cannabis in the world. Bruce Linton at Canopy Growth in Canada would argue with him about that, but as far as that export is concerned, what can you tell us about the standards that you know are happening in the Netherlands?

Raffi Gamson: I'm not really aware of what's going in the Netherlands, but the Israeli market ... Yuval Lancheft, these Israeli regulator has decided that what will be exported is products. Not fresh like peppers or tomatoes. So I believe it will open the opportunities for manufacturers of medicines. It's not really medicine, but medical products from cannabis.

Seth: Mm-hmm (affirmative).

Raffi Gamson: So many farmers, which grow the raw material for this industry, to join. I don't know what happens ... I'm not aware enough to give you insight-[crosstalk 00:13:41]

Seth: But we won't be exporting flower?

Raffi Gamson: No, definitely not.

Seth: Right, right.

Raffi Gamson: By the way, differently from the Dutch.

Seth: Right. The Dutch definitely export flower.

Raffi Gamson: Yes, they export the flowers. They export seeds. They export plant products or plant parts.

Seth: Mm-hmm (affirmative).

Raffi Gamson: Which is definitely not what's going to happen in Israel.

Seth: Okay. All right. And we spoke before we turned on the microphones, I mentioned that either Canada or Israel that's in front as far as legal cannabis, legal medical cannabis worldwide and you said, "Yeah, I don't know what's happening in Canada too much."

Raffi Gamson: I'm not aware of-[crosstalk 00:14:20]

Seth: There we go.

Raffi Gamson: I'm trying to focus on my market as much as I can.

Seth: All right, so now we've got over 100 doctors. We've got 13,000 patients. We've got four farms that-[crosstalk 00:14:32]

Raffi Gamson: We have eight farms producing by license.

Seth: Eight farms producing by license, four of them which are-[crosstalk 00:14:38]

Raffi Gamson: Already certified to IMC.

Seth: There we go.

Raffi Gamson: But the others have a deadline to comply with the new standard unless if they don't, they will lose their license to produce. So I believe they actually are investing, highly investing in making an effort to comply with this standard and being certified.

Seth: Aside from export, what can you tell us about how this market is coming alive and what you expect over the next six, 12, 18 months?

Raffi Gamson: I'm in contact with about 100 farmers that are well, "Hello, how are you? I want to grow." Yes, on the phone, but not necessarily actually doing anything about that. They got all the information they need from me. They got the standard. They know what they have to do, but the first thing is to invest like seven million shekel to build a farm, to put greenhouses, to put computerized systems in place.

Seth: Right.

Raffi Gamson: They're afraid to do so if the market won't open for export.

Seth: Right, so export that is the big question. So then let's dive into that certification. You said seven million shekels just to get going, right?

Raffi Gamson: Yeah.

Seth: What else is involved here?

Raffi Gamson: Okay, I'll explain it, the process.

Seth: Yeah.

Raffi Gamson: Actually when a farmer applies, it doesn't matter if he's a new farmer or he's an old farmer holding a license already. They have to comply with two stages. The first stage of the audit is in infrastructure. We check two kinds of infrastructure. The physical ones, which is metal, computers, fertilizer, liquid tanks, pumps, everything. It is not allowed to grow in the soil. Only in soil-less media. They have the infrastructure ready to bring in the propagation material.

Seth: Okay.

Raffi Gamson: The other part of infrastructure is actually the management system. Do they have a management system in place? Do they have the risk assessments? Is it proper for the size of the farm that's planned? Do they have plans? Do they have a traceability system in place? Everything is already in place. After this part-[crosstalk 00:16:54]

Seth: Just quickly on traceability-

Raffi Gamson: Yeah.

Seth: That is in the United States, state by state kind of mandated by the state. In terms of the state of Israel, what are we talking about as far as-[crosstalk 00:17:07]

Raffi Gamson: It's part of the standard requirement. If a farmer does not have a good traceability, if I cannot trace back from the final product back to the greenhouse and the harvest date and the application, the pesticide application records, something's going wrong.

Seth: Of course. From seed to cell, it must be traced. It must be trackable. What I'm saying is, that the states are mandating the states in the United States are mandating which tracing system, which trackable system.

Raffi Gamson: No, no, no.

Seth: We don't care.

Raffi Gamson: We don't care as long as it works properly.

Seth: There we go.

Raffi Gamson: But how do I know it works? We assess it when we do the audits. So this is the infrastructure. After the infrastructure complies with the requirements, we issue a stage one approval.

Seth: Okay.

Raffi Gamson: With that approval they can buy license propagation material either from another farmer that has his IMC gap certificate or legally imported from Netherlands, from Canada, from U.S. I don't care. As long as it has a license and it has a phyto-sanitary certificate and it complies with the import regulations of Israel.
So after they actually got propagation material, it can be from tissue culture. It can be from cuttings, green cuttings. It can be by seeds. The risk of importing seeds, you know, cannabis are males and females. And you have 50% of having males. We don't want males in the system, only females.

Seth: Yes.

Raffi Gamson: If you import tissue culture, you know exactly what you got.

Seth: Mm-hmm (affirmative).

Raffi Gamson: So they start growing. When they get to the first harvest of the flowers, then we do the full assessment. The full audit, which is a long checklist, actually checking the management system operation. Not the presence of the management system, but what did they record.

Seth: Yeah.

Raffi Gamson: And how did they record it. And are the staff well trained? And does the traceability system actually work? And how do they label the product? And how do they pack the product? And do they not harm the environment during the process?

Seth: Okay. When ... that's an interesting wrinkle. How do they not harm the environment? What are we talking about there?

Raffi Gamson: We're talking about two things. The influence of the environment on the farm and influence the farm, waste management-[crosstalk 00:19:42]

Seth: That's more what I'm talking about. I understand the environment on the farm. Yes, of course, we need to make sure-[crosstalk 00:19:47]

Raffi Gamson: If the neighbor is a chicken farm and their waste runs off directly into the cannabis farm, [crosstalk 00:19:52] problem.

Seth: Yes, this is a problem. Indeed.

Raffi Gamson: I don't want any salmonella in my cannabis.

Seth: Of course not. What I'm asking is, are there sustainability measures from the cannabis facility itself that you're looking at?

Raffi Gamson: Yes.

Seth: Such as?

Raffi Gamson: Such as mainly based on waste management.

Seth: Okay. Out. Waste management out.

Raffi Gamson: From the farm out.

Seth: Yeah, so take us through that if you would.

Raffi Gamson: Well, because the whole system is new, Yuval Lancheft did not yet actually license a waste facility, but according to the standard they will license two or three or how many is needed, licensed waste management facilities that will collect the tissue material. Not tissue, the plant material, the plant waste and make compost out of it or maybe actually do any oil from the very low residues of active ingredients that's in the plant, which naturally as you know, are very, very low if at all.

Seth: Yeah. I wonder if there will be a plan for hemp. For the stalks, the fiber.

Raffi Gamson: That's a good question. I don't know.

Seth: All right. We'll see. Would you be prepared to-[crosstalk 00:21:09]

Raffi Gamson: Hemp is not part of the cannabis. It's not part of the system right now.

Seth: Of course not, but based on your experience would you be able to deal with that?

Raffi Gamson: We deal with farming. If it's a hemp processing facility and they would buy the fiber. So that's maybe GMP. Not good manufacturing practices. That's not under my authority.

Seth: Is it in this IQC though?

Raffi Gamson: There is no standard yet.

Seth: Indeed. We're okay with that, right? We can deal with it.

Raffi Gamson: Of course.

Seth: One thing at a time, I think, is what you're saying to me. Raffi, is that right?

Raffi Gamson: What I'm saying, we don't turn off any opportunity for business.

Seth: There we go. There we go. All right, so you don't turn off any opportunity for business. Let's get to your entrepreneurial roots or how you got to be here. Where are you from originally?

Raffi Gamson: Well, my parents made [inaudible 00:22:02], if you know that term.

Seth: Sure.

Raffi Gamson: My parents made [inaudible 00:22:04] from the U.S. in 1966. I wasn't born yet.

Seth: I see.

Raffi Gamson: My older brother came with them. He was a year old. I was born here. We actually spoke English at home when I was a child. That's my roots, but I was grown-

Seth: You were grown like a cannabis plant.

Raffi Gamson: No, no, no. I was brought up as an Israeli. I got very Zionistic education at home. I went to [inaudible 00:22:35]. That's where I got my agricultural experience.

Seth: I see.

Raffi Gamson: Then I learned at the university, the Hebrew University of Jerusalem at the Faculty of Agriculture and for almost 10 years I worked for the Ministry of Agriculture, beginning with the quarantine station at Ashdod Port in regulating the import of plant originated products. Very similar to what the APHIS, the Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service at the USDA do. So everything imported into Israel is actually regulated not to bring any pests. Then I was-[crosstalk 00:23:17]

Seth: You were literally on the front lines of doing just that.

Raffi Gamson: I was the manager of the quarantine station at Ashdod Port.

Seth: Okay, and what were we making sure, beyond the obvious, what was your job, what did your job entail?

Raffi Gamson: To actually inspect everything ... all the food and plant products imported into Israel.

Seth: Every single one?

Raffi Gamson: Every single one. Every single shipment. I wouldn't say every single one. It's always sample based.

Seth: Yeah, I gotcha.

Raffi Gamson: But then I got an opportunity. I became the quality manager of the department, the Plant Protection and Inspection Service Department and after a few years I was offered the job at IQC and I found myself here. The best thing happened to me is to stop being a civil servant. That was the best thing that actually happened to me.

Seth: I won't tell Yuval you said that. How about that?

Raffi Gamson: Don't worry.

Seth: He knows.

Raffi Gamson: He knows, yeah.

Seth: Why do you say that though? A little-bit more freedom with your time? A little-bit more money in your pocket?

Raffi Gamson: That's the point. You can be educated, you can work hard, and you get very low salaries.

Seth: Right.

Raffi Gamson: Over here someone actually appreciates my hard work and can actually pay for the hard work.

Seth: Understood. All right, so we've got two realities in front of us. One that includes export. One that does not. Right? Just take us down the line, five years in the future, which no one can predict, but what do you expect if there is no export.

Raffi Gamson: If there's no export, I believe they will be joining some more farms. I believe the market will be about 20 producers, maybe five factories processing. I don't know. It's only my estimation.

Seth: Sure, yeah, but this is just ... it's one man's point of view, which is a valuable point of view.

Raffi Gamson: [crosstalk 00:25:15] I can see already where it's going right now because the 20 that actually signed contracts with IQC for gap ... I can see already putting infrastructure in place, investing money. Others just waiting. So I believe if they won't export, they will continue waiting for the Messiah maybe.

Seth: Which it's going to be a while is what-[crosstalk 00:25:41]

Raffi Gamson: We pray every day.

Seth: It's a different subject. That's another-[crosstalk 00:25:48]

Raffi Gamson: We're not going to talk about religion today.

Seth: Exactly. But let's talk about that future that possibly happens with export. What do you see as the market a few years down the line?

Raffi Gamson: I had a meeting with the largest vegetable propagation material nursery in Israel and their thinking of to enter this market, but they will enter the market ... they are the leading vegetable seedling producer in Israel. You can Google that and you will know who I'm talking about.

Seth: Fair enough.

Raffi Gamson: They're actually thinking if to enter this market. They will not enter if they don't have a market that they can actually money off. We were talking about at the end of the line, maybe in five, six years there will be 80 producers, maybe top 100. I don't believe the numbers that the media is talking about. Like 300 producers. I actually don't believe that.

Seth: Just the market does not make sense to be that size.

Raffi Gamson: Exactly.

Seth: As far as number of producers.

Raffi Gamson: I'm talking about farms.

Seth: Yeah, yeah, yeah.

Raffi Gamson: When I talk about producer, I'm talking about farms.

Seth: I understood.

Raffi Gamson: The investment is so big, I don't believe so many farms will actually enter the market because it's an open market. It's not regulated. The market will regulate itself. The good ones will survive. The bad ones will actually naturally leave the business. After investing so much money, it would be stupid to enter if you are not the best.

Seth: Yeah, there you go. All right, and so then it just is a matter of time until we find out if Canada, Israel, and the Netherlands can supply the world. Who am I leaving off the list? Oh yeah, the United States of America, which is stuck in the Dark Ages, but that's okay. That's not what we're here to talk about either because it seems that conversations around that country turn into conversations of religion. You can't get away with actually having a conversation.

Raffi Gamson: That's politics.

Seth: Yeah, exactly.

Raffi Gamson: I'm not into politics.

Seth: No, no, no, no. Very much appreciate your time here. I've got three final questions for you. I'll tell you what they are. I'll ask you them in order. What's most surprised you in cannabis understanding your agricultural roots? What's most surprised you in life? And on the soundtrack of your life, one track, one song that's got to be on there? But first things first. Understanding that you've been dealing with our agriculture for essentially your entire career, what's most surprised you in cannabis?

Raffi Gamson: Well, first of all it's not food. My dealing with farming was actually for food production. And we're talking about medicine or medical purposes use of plants, which is a whole different view of handling the product or of growing the product and highly require ... even higher than food. We don't want any contamination in the product. We can require higher requirements and insist and not round the corners. I don't say we do that in food, but yet we don't want any outbreaks in food as well.

Seth: No, but you can wash off pesticides on an apple. You can't do that on a cannabis plant.

Raffi Gamson: Exactly. Another thing is when you require very high requirements in the food industry, the farmers say that's enough. I don't want to be in this business or back off.

Seth: Right.

Raffi Gamson: What surprised me is the will of the producers to invest more and more to bring the higher standard of production.

Seth: It's a different product then anything else. As far as the way that people think and act about it, right.

Raffi Gamson: It's the way that farmers have the will to do things better.

Seth: I love it. I love it. I love that answer.

Raffi Gamson: I think you should ... while you're in Israel for your ... for the conference, I think you should take the time and maybe visit one of the farms.

Seth: Yeah, sure.

Raffi Gamson: I think you'll enjoy it.

Seth: There we go. We'll see if we can get that on to the calendar. In the meantime, what's most surprised you in life?

Raffi Gamson: Why is that interested-[crosstalk 00:30:16]

Seth: Why is that interesting to the audience?

Raffi Gamson: Yeah.

Seth: Okay, so we've spent-[crosstalk 00:30:21]

Raffi Gamson: To the cannabis audience.

Seth: We've now spent a half hour with you, right? We've been talking to you. And if we don't understand who this guy is, we're trying to get to know him a little-bit better so that we come away from the interview saying, "Oh, you know what? Good information and not a bad guy either."

Raffi Gamson: Well, I think what's driving me in life is the connection to the land. The connection to the soil. I think you can see that in many farmers. I was a farmer myself before sitting in this seat and I understand the farmers when we talk to them. I think it's part of my way of life. Farming, reducing pesticide application, having more natural ways to grow, more sustainable and making sure the farm has enough income to actually hold the farm on one hand and on the other hand they still can invest enough to bring it to a good level.

Seth: Do you think of the history of the land that you're speaking of and your role in this brand new industry, which has very positive potential? You know, the fact that it is this land in particular that we are getting these plants out from and potentially to the rest of the world?

Raffi Gamson: That's not fair. The Holy land is actually Holy.

Seth: Uh-huh.

Raffi Gamson: I believe so. There are evidence from 3,000 years ago of using cannabis.

Seth: Right.

Raffi Gamson: In the temple mount ... in Jerusalem. Cannabis and other herbs for ritual purposes.

Seth: Right.

Raffi Gamson: I don't believe growing cannabis in Israel is better than other countries.

Seth: Okay.

Raffi Gamson: But it's definitely different because we are more in the South. Actually Canadian producers ... I spoke with a producer this morning. I had a meeting before coming to work.

Seth: Right.

Raffi Gamson: And he is a consultant for a farm. They have Canadian investors. They said, "Well, how do you illuminate?" And they said, "We don't need. We have enough radiation." And the Canadian people cannot understand. They are much, much, much more to the North.

Seth: Yes, of course.

Raffi Gamson: They need-[crosstalk 00:33:05]

Seth: They need lights.

Raffi Gamson: We don't necessarily need more extra light for-[crosstalk 00:33:16]

Seth: For growing.

Raffi Gamson: For growing.

Seth: There we go. All right.

Raffi Gamson: For photosynthesis.

Seth: Yeah, you've got it. You came through in the end. All right, on the soundtrack of your life, one track, one song that's got to be on there?

Raffi Gamson: Oh God.

Seth: Would it be Promised Land by Chuck Berry by any chance?

Raffi Gamson: It probably won't be in English.

Seth: Okay, turn us wise. Tell us maybe something we don't know.

Raffi Gamson: Well, there's a Hasidic singer called Avraham Fried. I'm a big fan of him.

Seth: All right.

Raffi Gamson: You can Google him.

Seth: We'll do that.

Raffi Gamson: And YouTube.

Seth: Avraham Fried. We'll look him up. Thank you so much Raffi. Really appreciate your time.

Raffi Gamson: Okay, you're welcome. Anytime.

Seth: And there you have Raffi Gamson. Very much appreciate his time. Very much appreciate your time. Stayed tuned.

Read the full transcript:

Become a member to access to webinars, quarterly reports, contributor columns, shows, excerpts, and complete podcast transcripts

Become a Member

Already a member? Login here.

Subscribe now to get every episode.

Cannabis Economy is a real-time history of legal cannabis. We chronicle how personal and industry histories have combined to provide our current reality.