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Ep. 410: Roei Zerahia, Canndoc

Cannabis Economy Podcast
Ep. 410: Roei Zerahia, Canndoc

Ep. 410: Roei Zerahia, Canndoc

Roie Zerahia joins us to share the background of Canndoc in Israel as one of the first companies licensed to grow, process, and distribute cannabis. Now launching in Illinois, they bring with them extensive scientific knowledge about the hundreds of individual compounds in medical cannabis with unique effects that extend beyond those of just THC and CBD.

 

Transcript:

Seth Addler: Roei Zerahia joins us. Welcome to Cannabis Economy, I'm your host Seth Addler. Download episodes on canneconomy.com. That's two 'N's and the word economy. First, a word from Nancy Whiteman in Wana Brands and then Roei Zerahia.

Speaker 2: [inaudible 00:00:17] Wana Brands. Nancy, state expansion.

Nancy Whiteman: Yes.

Speaker 2: Into Illinois specifically.

Nancy Whiteman: Yes we are in the process of launching in Illinois. Very interesting state. Enormous population, as you know. It's completely medical at this point in time but the thing that's encouraging about it is that they keep adding new [inaudible 00:00:35] conditions to the mix. So the patient population is growing quite nicely.

Speaker 2: Yeah that patient count keeps going up.

Nancy Whiteman: It keeps going up. Yep. So we think long-term it's gonna be an excellent state for us.

Roei Zaharia: Roei Zaharia.

Seth Addler: Excellent. Roei, it's a pleasure to be speaking with you. We have met in person and unfortunately for me, I'm not in Israel with you. I'm here in New York but it's good to get back on the line with you. And as we make our way here into 2019, there are new and different things afoot. Aren't there? So if you could just set the stage for us, as far as what your focused on and what you're working on and then we'll kind of maybe unpack that.

Roei Zaharia: Sure. Let me share with you. First thing, who exactly are the people in CANNDOC and what CANNDOC has been doing in the last decade? Not many people know around the globe that Israel was one of the first places that started a medical program in 2008 and CANNDOC was one of the first three Alpian that got the license to grow, process, and distribute medical cannabis. In Israel, since 2008, medical cannabis was allowed to be distributed to patients but in order to do so, the patient needed to get a license. Not a prescription, a license. This is a very unique method that the minister [inaudible 00:02:24] and decided to doing ordered to start. We are talking about, you know, 2019 today. 11 years ago to start to see how medical cannabis can influence Israeli patients that in some patients the provincial Pharm award did not find a good solution. So starting in 2008, our founders started to grow medical Cannabis and for almost 18 months, did it from their own money and gave it for free to a patient that got a license from the minister of [inaudible 00:03:10].
In 2010, there were already eight LPs in Israel. By the way, those still eight, exist still today and also today in 2019, there are only eight LPs in Israel. And in 2010 and going back, the minister of health decided to take this pileup and convert it to a national program. Which means that a patient will be able to get medical cannabis directly to his home by getting the license from an Israeli's position, there were eight teams physicians at the beginning and the number increased to 36 last year. Those 36 physicians are able to get to a point when after checking and making sure a patient qualifies to the minister of health's qualification, they are allowed to give this patient a license to use medical cannabis on a monthly basis. And those physicians, under those licenses, tell us the LPs re-allow you to supply; to distribute medical cannabis to a patient. And you can speak directly to the patient; ask what are the patient's problems? What exactly they are suffering from? And you do the mix and match in order to understand exactly what is the best Cannabinol profile that can help this specific patient.

Seth Addler: Roei Zerahia joins us. Welcome to Cannabis Economy, I'm your host Seth Addler. Download episodes on canneconomy.com. That's two 'N's and the word economy. First, a word from Nancy Whiteman in Wana Brands and then Roei Zerahia.

Speaker 2: [inaudible 00:00:17] Wana Brands. Nancy, state expansion.

Nancy Whiteman: Yes.

Speaker 2: Into Illinois specifically.

Nancy Whiteman: Yes we are in the process of launching in Illinois. Very interesting state. Enormous population, as you know. It's completely medical at this point in time but the thing that's encouraging about it is that they keep adding new [inaudible 00:00:35] conditions to the mix. So the patient population is growing quite nicely.

Speaker 2: Yeah that patient count keeps going up.

Nancy Whiteman: It keeps going up. Yep. So we think long-term it's gonna be an excellent state for us.

Roei Zaharia: Roei Zaharia.

Seth Addler: Excellent. Roei, it's a pleasure to be speaking with you. We have met in person and unfortunately for me, I'm not in Israel with you. I'm here in New York but it's good to get back on the line with you. And as we make our way here into 2019, there are new and different things afoot. Aren't there? So if you could just set the stage for us, as far as what your focused on and what you're working on and then we'll kind of maybe unpack that.

Roei Zaharia: Sure. Let me share with you. First thing, who exactly are the people in CANNDOC and what CANNDOC has been doing in the last decade? Not many people know around the globe that Israel was one of the first places that started a medical program in 2008 and CANNDOC was one of the first three Alpian that got the license to grow, process, and distribute medical cannabis. In Israel, since 2008, medical cannabis was allowed to be distributed to patients but in order to do so, the patient needed to get a license. Not a prescription, a license. This is a very unique method that the minister [inaudible 00:02:24] and decided to doing ordered to start. We are talking about, you know, 2019 today. 11 years ago to start to see how medical cannabis can influence Israeli patients that in some patients the provincial Pharm award did not find a good solution. So starting in 2008, our founders started to grow medical Cannabis and for almost 18 months, did it from their own money and gave it for free to a patient that got a license from the minister of [inaudible 00:03:10].
In 2010, there were already eight LPs in Israel. By the way, those still eight, exist still today and also today in 2019, there are only eight LPs in Israel. And in 2010 and going back, the minister of health decided to take this pileup and convert it to a national program. Which means that a patient will be able to get medical cannabis directly to his home by getting the license from an Israeli's position, there were eight teams physicians at the beginning and the number increased to 36 last year. Those 36 physicians are able to get to a point when after checking and making sure a patient qualifies to the minister of health's qualification, they are allowed to give this patient a license to use medical cannabis on a monthly basis. And those physicians, under those licenses, tell us the LPs re-allow you to supply; to distribute medical cannabis to a patient. And you can speak directly to the patient; ask what are the patient's problems? What exactly they are suffering from? And you do the mix and match in order to understand exactly what is the best Cannabinol profile that can help this specific patient.
So what actually happened, in 2010, we started a program that the patient can get a monthly dose and pay approximately $100 and get any amount the physician is writing down in his license. Which means the patient can get 20 grams and the patient can get 180 milliliters. In both cases the patient pays the same and by doing that, the minister of health thought that this will help people around the world, and especially in Israel, to start understanding how cannabis and different cannabinol profiles can help people. That there will be no problems in getting a specific strain to a specific patient because everything costs the same and there are no difference between one strain or one cannabinol profile to the other in money-wise. So by doing that, in 2010 we started to supply medical cannabis to hundreds of patients, which during the years, became thousands of patients on a monthly basis. Which means once a new patient is being joined to CANNDOC, this patient is staying with CANNDOC months up to months; getting the specific cannabinol profile in buds or in oil according to the symptoms he or she has.
So we got up to today, more than 500, 000 dosages that all of them were corrected in our databases, optimized and got to a point when in 2013-14, physicians started to calling us; telling us, "Look, we had seven years in med school but not even one hour about cannabis. Can you please teach us or explain us if we have a patient with a specific disease or symptom, what will be the best cannabinol profile, I don't wanna say to cure but, to help this specific patient."
So by getting those [inaudible 00:07:37] month after month, year after year and collecting all those pieces of data, we got to a point that when in 2016 Germany decided that they understand that cannabis is going to stay and this is not something that is for a couple of months. They came to Israel and understood how the minister of health started the program and understood exactly what our profiles, what exactly is the standard for the growing part? What is the standard for the clinical part? What are the standards for the growing, processing and packaging? And by doing that they took actually the IMCGA standard which stands for Israeli Medical Cannabis Good Agriculture Practice, which actually says, 'if you are doing the full value chain, you need to do in each link, a specific thing in order to keep your medical cannabis clean and almost identical time after time'. Because in the bottom line we are talking about medicine.

Seth Addler: This is all really great information and you're now sharing, you know, what my friend Yuval Landshaft has conceived of with many, many great minds there in Israel. The regulatory infrastructure.

Roei Zaharia: Exactly.

Seth Addler: I wanna go back thought to what you were talking about in terms of cannabinoid profiles. If you've been doing this for as long as you have and you have these hundreds of thousands of dosages that have been prescribed through those license. I wonder, you know, using maybe your computer science hat, right? Your an old mathematician, can you share with us what you have learned in terms of cannabinoid profiles and what conditions they treat? What is best for what? What can you share?

Roei Zaharia: So I will share with you, first thing, that when you are talking about cannabinol profiles, I don't wanna say all of the people but most of the people are focusing today in 383 camels been started in the last couple of years; been talking about CBD but there are really hundreds of different compounds in medical cannabis and in cannabis in general. You have cannabinoids, you have terpenoids, you have flavonoids and there are many things that happening today we don't know.

Seth Addler: Mm-hmm (affirmative).

Roei Zaharia: So if in taking just what we have learned up until now, we know approximately how THC can affect the brain, how can CBD affect the body, and we also know that by combining them we understand that the entourage effect, which means 1 + 1 = 3 or 4 or 5.

Seth Addler: Right.

Roei Zaharia: We understand that together they are much better but now we are moving forward to another step. We are talking about 100,400 different compounds and taking what we have in CANNDOC in our database.

Seth Addler: Yup.

Roei Zaharia: And I'm saying, "Look. I'm taking two different patients." And let's assume we have an identical disease.

Seth Addler: Mm-hmm (affirmative).

Roei Zaharia: And they have the same symptoms. If I giving them two different cannabinoid profiles, there is no doubt that the outcome will be different. But if I'm giving them the same THC levels and the same CBD levels are they going to have the same effect? So six or seven years ago I would've said yes. This is the same cannabinol profile.

Seth Addler: Right.

Roei Zaharia: But now we know that THC and CBD are very important but they are not enough because we need to understand what is the level of CBN, CBC, CBG. We need to understand what is the ratio between them. So what we did in CANNDOC in the last couple of years is not only focusing on the major cannabinoids but also trying to start investigating, understanding, trying to do some anecdotal trials in order to do understand what is the ratio between the major and the minor cannabinoids? Which minor cannabinoid can help a specific symptom? We found out that if you are taking a PTSD patient and cancer patient and parkinsons patient, even if you give all of them the same THC and the same CBD levels, you need to understand also what else you have inside.

Seth Addler: Mm-hmm (affirmative).

Roei Zaharia: And if you are talking about a whole plant extract. The number of other compounds are huge.

Seth Addler: It's limitless.

Roei Zaharia: Tens of percentage, exactly.

Seth Addler: Mm-hmm (affirmative).

Roei Zaharia: So what we did in the last three years, starting to optimize everything and this has got to the point when you are asking, today, when you're coming to me and say, "Well I have a patient with a specific symptom. In 2013, it would've taken me three months to understand what is the best cannabinoid profile for this specific person. Today, it will probably will take me between three to five minutes, I don't wanna say to find the best option, but to take the best one I have according to 500, 000 those suggest that I already supplied the patients, and from them I can aggregate the specific one for a specific symptom and a specific age group. So I'm getting closer and closer but yet we are still in the point that we need to understand and continue research running what we are doing today in 2019 clinical trials.

Seth Addler: There we go.

Roei Zaharia: There is no other way to do it perfect. Only clinical trials.

Seth Addler: So my friend Tjalling Erkelens the CEO of Bedrocan just did a clinical trial for fibromyalgia, what do you have in store? When you say clinical trials, what are you looking at?

Roei Zaharia: In Israel the nice and super important thing is, when you are an LP you are licensed to do all of the things, all the links in the value chain. Which means to grow, to process, to research, to pack, to distribute, to get feedback from patients and from physicians. So what actually we are doing today, we are taking all anecdotal data we've collected in the last ten and a half years.
We started to work with physicians on specific symptoms and got to a point when we are saying, "Okay. In every quarter in the next couple of years, we are going to do a clinical trial but we are not going to start from scratch. If we are going to work with PTSD and start a clinical trial, we are going to start working on fibromyalgia or any other symptom that we have already patient that got medical cannabis for this specific symptom. We actually have the group that the process we are doing in the clinical trial was already done according to the protocols of the minister of health and now we just need to put it according to the housekeeping protocols and according to what needs to be done as a clinical trial, in order to make sure that what we did during the years really reflects a result that can be proven." Which means up to today during the last nine and a half years, we grew in CANNDOC medical cannabis according to a cannabinoid profile in our genetic bank. Last year we got from the minister of health, the IMCGAP, IMCGMP standards. Which means we can put today, cannabis in pharmacies in Israel and Israeli physicians can prescribe for Israeli patient CANNDOC medical cannabis and these patients can go to 25 different pharmacies in Israel, give the prescription to the pharmacies and get our product.

Seth Addler: Yeah and that's-

Roei Zaharia: What does it mean?

Seth Addler: Yeah. No that does a great service to sharing with folks exactly what the regulatory infrastructure is and how much work has been done. There is true, actual product that is tested appropriately that is available in pharmacies that is prescribed by physicians. So we are aware we need to be as far as the supply chain is concerned. I wonder, as far as those quarterly clinical trials, what might be the first condition that you're focused on?

Roei Zaharia: We are running, at the same time, four different trials. Some of them with our partners and some of them in house. What we are seeing at the moment that there are different, let's call them segments, that are very unique and the [inaudible 00:18:00] is huge. For example, women health. The number of women, that today, can get cannabis for pain issues is absolutely enormous and we understand that now that an Israeli lady got cannabis and during the way we found out that we can help in a specific symptom then this is a very important thing because the audience on the population of women around the world with, let's call them, women's problem or under the category of women's health, is almost 200,000,000 people.

Seth Addler: Mm-hmm (affirmative).

Roei Zaharia: But at the same time, you know probably that cannabis and epilepsy are really an amazing story.

Seth Addler: Yep.

Roei Zaharia: And today in CANNDOC, we have even children that have epilepsy and that we found out that a specific cannabinol profile, which is high CBD and very low THC, but not zero, very low THC. We've got to a point that we have a couple of months maybe in CANNDOC that we showed that 200 seizures a week with reduced it to three to four seizures a week by only get this specific CANNDOC product which means oil drops under the tongue or if needed breathalyzer. Because as you probably understand, when you are talking about small children, smoking is not an option.

Seth Addler: Right.

Roei Zaharia: So if I'm taking, let's say, the best option that 2019, we are going to be focusing, which will probably be epilepsy, PTSD, IBD, of course cancer and pain. And when we are taking about cancer and pain, because as you know those are not indications those are groups of indications.

Seth Addler: Right.

Roei Zaharia: But you cannot say I'm treating cancer. There are so many different cancer. There are so many different pain problems but we need to get to a point we are minimizing it for a specific symptom because we wanna make sure that what they're thinking is exactly what we are getting.

Seth Addler: Yeah. We call them conditions, you call them indications just to make sure that we're speaking the same language while we speak different languages. You had really kind of very basically outlined THC that it's psychoactive and CBD that is more of an affect on the body. Can you give us just basic kind of definitions or basic information on these other, you call them minor cannabinoids but these are almost the mid range cannabinoids now. CBG, CBC, and CBN. If you could give us one sentence on each of those three for instance, what might you share? If I said CBG, what should I know about CBG from your perspective?

Roei Zaharia: I don't know how many people know but CBG is when you're growing cannabis plant, the cannabinoid that starts the process is CBG. And during the blooming part, after a couple of weeks, the CBG evolve and some of it converts to THC. Later on some of it converts to CBD and after that when you start the harvesting process and you wait a couple of more weeks some of the cannabinoids you've created are converted to CBN.
So I don't know how many people understand the science but when we are talking about the evolution of cannabinoids, what CANNDOC did in the last five years is working shoulder to shoulder with the ARO the [inaudible 00:22:19] center in Israel. Which is the agriculture arm of the ministry of agriculture and we did a couple of researchers in our production facility in order exactly to understand the evolution of the cannabinoid.
Because if I know now that CBN can help people to sleep better, I wanna make sure that when I'm growing cannabis and if I wanna take care of indication [inaudible 00:22:54] sleep. Insomnia or something like that, I need to be in a point I know how to produce CBN and control the production of it and what we did is we took the [inaudible 00:23:11] spectrum of how cannabinoids are evolving during the growing part in order to understand exactly in each week which cannabinoid gets to which percentage is specific cannabinoid profile we are having in our genetic bank. And by doing that we mark what we have and by taking conventional methods in other agriculture crops we did stress in some of the plants in order to see if we can get more or less cannabinoid in order to control exactly what we are having and all of those because we have one main reason. CANNDOC is focusing only on pharmaceutical grade medical cannabis. In Israel, recreational is not an option and CANNDOC is not dealing with recreational. We are pure Pharma company.

Seth Addler: Understood.

Roei Zaharia: And when we are talking about Pharma.

Seth Addler: Yup.

Roei Zaharia: We are going to be in the API ward very soon.

Seth Addler: Excellent.

Roei Zaharia: [crosstalk 00:24:20] Pharmaceutical Ingredient.

Seth Addler: You brought up-

Roei Zaharia: And if you wanna control.

Seth Addler: Yep.

Roei Zaharia: The cannabinoid profile.

Seth Addler: Mm-hmm (affirmative).

Roei Zaharia: This is what you need to do.

Seth Addler: Exactly. So you brought up Vulcan Ian, of course. He and Aneete Colti, our friend in common, and Ina Ofgotti as well. Our folks over there as well as many, many, many others. You mentioned CBG and CBN. I asked about CBC as well. If you could give just two quick seconds on CBC, what would you say?

Roei Zaharia: I wanna be honest with you, we are working on CBC in the last couple of months. We don't have yet final results so I'm trying to be on one hand focused and on another hand I don't wanna throw some sentences which are not yet bulletproof so I think we should keep something for our next call.

Seth Addler: There we go. We let the science tell us what the science tells us. We don't assume. That's fantastic. I would love to talk to you all day. You and I both don't have that kind of time so I'll tell you what the three final questions are and then I'll ask you them in order. What's most surprised you in cannabis? What's most surprised you in life and on the soundtrack of your life; one track, one song that's gotta be on there? So those are the three questions. First things first, what has most surprised you in cannabis?

Roei Zaharia: I'll share with you my personal story. When I start working in CANNDOC, it was almost eight years ago, and when the founder of CANNDOC came to me and tell me, "Roei." He said, "Something that is going to be huge. We are building here a new Pharma industry." And when I said, "How you grow cannabis and what you need to do regarding security and personnel and packaging and securing." I said, "Wow. I never think something like that and I'm coming from the academy but I also have experience in agriculture." I said, "If this is what people need to do in order to grow cannabis, there are two options. Which is something that is going to fade away because there is no option to continue doing that. Or this is something that's going to be huge because we are building here something from scratch."

Seth Addler: Yeah.

Roei Zaharia: I can tell you that what I did, I almost stopped doing anything and focused on making this amazing machine called CANNDOC moving into action and start moving and helping patients in our personal and our people. Because don't forget when we started money wasn't involved. Everything was being done for free but I wasn't the leader and still am because if I'm seeing now how we can help patients and some of them got to the point nothing else in conventional medicine can help them, then you know we did or we are still doing what we can to help people get better medicine or get better in their life.

Seth Addler: That's it.

Roei Zaharia: So when we are bringing something good to the world, this is the first thing which is amazing because this plant exists for thousands of years.

Seth Addler: Of course.

Roei Zaharia: But only now we are starting, I'm not saying we are in the middle region, we are just starting to understand some of the good things cannabis can bring to the world.

Seth Addler: There you go. So you've got... That is a big one for what's most surprised you in cannabis. Do you have a different one for what's most surprised you in life or is that the same answer maybe?

Roei Zaharia: I think it's the same answer because we are working really around the clock all helping making this [inaudible 00:28:11] something huge and helping as many patients as possible in Israel and hopefully in the future out of Israel.

Seth Addler: There we go. What would be that song on your soundtrack? Song, one track, for the soundtrack of your life? What would that be?

Roei Zaharia: [inaudible 00:28:33] wasn't prepared for that. But many people are telling me in the last couple of years that I am a believer because when we started or when I joined CANNDOC, I think it was 2011.

Seth Addler: Yeah.

Roei Zaharia: People said that I'm insane and in 2013 when we started to build new facilities and I went to one of the Israeli banks and they didn't agree to give me a loan, I said, "Okay. I'll manage." And in 2015 when we got bigger and bigger and people said, "What are you doing? You are giving all your life for something which can disappear in two days."

Seth Addler: Mm-hmm (affirmative).

Roei Zaharia: And in 2018 when we got to a point that we were the first Israeli LP that went public and were nominated the former ministry Prime Minister of Israel. It was Barrack to our active chairmen. Then people said, "We didn't know exactly what you are doing but to tell you the truth I'm not sure we know exactly what we are doing now but you are probably doing something right because everything is being in the right place in the right time." So I'm a believer.

Seth Addler: That's it. Yeah there you go.

Roei Zaharia: By [inaudible 00:30:01].

Seth Addler: The Monkeys. And it certainly applies here. Of course as you say, "It's the beginning." There's so much work to be done. Very much appreciate your time today Roei and I'm very much looking forward to checking in with you down the line.

Roei Zaharia: It was a pleasure speaking with you Seth and hope to see you soon.

Seth Addler: And there you have Roei Zaharia. Very much appreciate his time. Very much appreciate your time. Stay tuned.

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