fbpx

Ep. 425: Former Prime Minister Ehud Barak

Cannabis Economy Podcast
Ep. 425: Former Prime Minister Ehud Barak

Ep. 425: Former Prime Minister Ehud Barak

Former Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Barak joins us and shares his excitement for the forward momentum of Cannabis research: “It’s a huge world of science waiting for exploration. We have here highly disciplined growers. We have here top-quality scientific community, and a lot of interest. And we see it from day-to-day.”

Transcript:

Seth Adler: Former prime minister, Ehud Barak, joins us. Welcome to Cannabis Economy. I'm your host, Seth Adler. Download episodes on CannEconomy.com, that's two Ns and the word economy, or wherever you currently get your podcasts. CannEconomy.com has a ton of direct insight from policy, business and scientists in the space. First a word from MedMen and then former prime minister, Ehud Barak.

Speaker 2: MedMen continues to expand its footprint on the cannabis landscape, opening new stores in Los Angeles, Las Vegas, and the iconic Fifth Avenue in Manhattan. They've also opened a 45,000 foot high-tech cannabis cultivation and manufacturing facility in Nevada. The company has reached a one-billion dollar valuation, making it the country's first cannabis unicorn, and it's just the beginning. Learn how MedMen is building the future of cannabis today at MedMen.com.

Seth Adler: Former prime minister, Ehud Barak, thank you so much, sir, for your time.

Ehud Barak: Thank you.

Seth Adler: Can you hear me? Not so well.

Ehud Barak: Not necessarily. Doesn't matter.

Seth Adler: It doesn't matter. Exactly.

Ehud Barak: I have my answer [crosstalk 00:01:05]

Seth Adler: Exactly. Like a good politician, you already know what you're going to say. It doesn't matter what I ask.

Ehud Barak: That's not the question.

Seth Adler: The first question is why? Why cannabis? You were here at Canna Tech, and you mentioned that you don't smoke it, you don't even know what it smells like, so why is this interesting to you?

Ehud Barak: I was busy in cybersecurity and homeland security, public safety, and so, I approach my friend who told me, "Have a look into it." He gave me a book by our regular, the unit in the Ministry of Finance who regulates the cannabis industry-

Seth Adler: From my friend Yuval Landschaft?

Ehud Barak: Yeah. Yuval Landschaft. They gave me a book of 250 pages.

Seth Adler: Sure.

Ehud Barak: And I was fascinated. I dived into it. I have a background in science. I took some courses in molecular biology several years ago. So I found myself understanding what they are talking about, and fascinated by it. Then, later, I saw the people, and I saw that some of the founding fathers of the industry in Israel, [inaudible 00:02:21] Barak, and [inaudible 00:02:22], they are working for 10 years, and they also have a lot of idiosyncratic knowledge dealing with real patients for real indications, over years, thousands of patients.
I found the whole issue fascinating. Now, I know the hype that was about cyber in the recent years, but I never found such an enthusiasm. We spent some time in J.P. Morgan Healthcare conference in San Francisco several months ago, and immediate afterwards, in Davos, and I found it shocking. I never saw such enthusiasm about something. I feel a huge potential, which we are just at the start. An inflection point at the lower part of the F scale, going toward exponential explosion of demand and of opportunity.

Seth Adler: Former prime minister, Ehud Barak, joins us. Welcome to Cannabis Economy. I'm your host, Seth Adler. Download episodes on CannEconomy.com, that's two Ns and the word economy, or wherever you currently get your podcasts. CannEconomy.com has a ton of direct insight from policy, business and scientists in the space. First a word from MedMen and then former prime minister, Ehud Barak.

Speaker 2: MedMen continues to expand its footprint on the cannabis landscape, opening new stores in Los Angeles, Las Vegas, and the iconic Fifth Avenue in Manhattan. They've also opened a 45,000 foot high-tech cannabis cultivation and manufacturing facility in Nevada. The company has reached a one-billion dollar valuation, making it the country's first cannabis unicorn, and it's just the beginning. Learn how MedMen is building the future of cannabis today at MedMen.com.

Seth Adler: Former prime minister, Ehud Barak, thank you so much, sir, for your time.

Ehud Barak: Thank you.

Seth Adler: Can you hear me? Not so well.

Ehud Barak: Not necessarily. Doesn't matter.

Seth Adler: It doesn't matter. Exactly.

Ehud Barak: I have my answer [crosstalk 00:01:05]

Seth Adler: Exactly. Like a good politician, you already know what you're going to say. It doesn't matter what I ask.

Ehud Barak: That's not the question.

Seth Adler: The first question is why? Why cannabis? You were here at Canna Tech, and you mentioned that you don't smoke it, you don't even know what it smells like, so why is this interesting to you?

Ehud Barak: I was busy in cybersecurity and homeland security, public safety, and so, I approach my friend who told me, "Have a look into it." He gave me a book by our regular, the unit in the Ministry of Finance who regulates the cannabis industry-

Seth Adler: From my friend Yuval Landschaft?

Ehud Barak: Yeah. Yuval Landschaft. They gave me a book of 250 pages.

Seth Adler: Sure.

Ehud Barak: And I was fascinated. I dived into it. I have a background in science. I took some courses in molecular biology several years ago. So I found myself understanding what they are talking about, and fascinated by it. Then, later, I saw the people, and I saw that some of the founding fathers of the industry in Israel, [inaudible 00:02:21] Barak, and [inaudible 00:02:22], they are working for 10 years, and they also have a lot of idiosyncratic knowledge dealing with real patients for real indications, over years, thousands of patients.
I found the whole issue fascinating. Now, I know the hype that was about cyber in the recent years, but I never found such an enthusiasm. We spent some time in J.P. Morgan Healthcare conference in San Francisco several months ago, and immediate afterwards, in Davos, and I found it shocking. I never saw such enthusiasm about something. I feel a huge potential, which we are just at the start. An inflection point at the lower part of the F scale, going toward exponential explosion of demand and of opportunity.

Seth Adler: You mention the businessmen, and of course, many scientists, most of the scientists in cannabis, nearly all of the clinical trials have been here in Israel. And you spoke of Israel as the land of milk and honey, and how you've sat down with the Chinese prime minister, or, excuse me-

Ehud Barak: Minister of Agriculture.

Seth Adler: Minister of Agriculture, and he didn't understand how the cows here had so much on the cows in China. Now, you've been around the world. You obviously were the prime minister. Why is Israel such a special place for cannabis specifically?

Ehud Barak: Well, it's a special place here because the origins of this science is here, and we just touch the tip of the iceberg. There are 100 cannabinoids, not just THC and CBD, that we-

Seth Adler: Kind of know about.

Ehud Barak: ... kind of know.

Seth Adler: Yeah. Exactly.

Ehud Barak: And it's the interaction between all these elements, and the flavanoids, and-

Seth Adler: Terpenes.

Ehud Barak: Yeah. Terpenes, and whatever. It's a huge world of science waiting for exploration. We have here highly disciplined growers. We have here top-quality scientific community, and a lot of interest. And we see it from day-to-day. It's moving, fast-forward, to [inaudible 00:04:44] clinically in the [inaudible 00:04:44] we have relationship with several universities, and hospitals to run all of this. So it's first of all about science, availability of science. Secondly, about top-quality, precision agriculture, which developed in Israel. We are at the cutting edge of the science of agriculture, and with top-quality manpower, you see the farmers, especially in the kibbutzim and moshavim, in these people, under slightly different initial conditions, might find themselves in startup nation working for some high-tech industry. They are disciplined and systematic, and cautious [inaudible 00:05:33]

Seth Adler: To be on a kibbutz you have to make it work, right? You can't just-

Ehud Barak: Yeah, yeah. No, but it's a culture developed to make everything that you are doing first-class. And then, there is a climate with it's very, very positive for this, and it makes it, probably, one third of the expensive, when you compare it to indoor growing in Canada, or Denmark, or wherever. We don't need, even, a glass greenhouses. We can make it under plastic. But cutting edge plastic greenhouses. So, we have all the pre-conditions for being the leader in this area. And you know, in recent years, some Israeli companies really grew into multi-billion dollars market companies trading in the world.
So, I see, of course, [inaudible 00:06:30] as a leading position in all these areas, but we are ready to dramatically explode with capacities, establishing new production sites, post-harvest. We are now still using [inaudible 00:06:44] as the extraction. It's about the size which will justify building a new extraction plant, and we are determined to have a ... We have our agreements joint ventures with growers in Europe, and with producers.

Seth Adler: Now that we can export.

Ehud Barak: Yeah. Well, we intend to export massively.

Seth Adler: No, I'm saying the country itself can export. Correct?

Ehud Barak: Yeah. Yeah.

Seth Adler: Which is a big-

Ehud Barak: I say, I think will take time to-

Seth Adler: That took a long time to pass.

Ehud Barak: Yeah, yeah. But it will take another several month for the bureaucracy to write down the detailed rules.

Seth Adler: These bureaucrats. It's unbelievable, isn't it?

Ehud Barak: We have very thoughtful, one-man-show regulatory [inaudible 00:07:28] but he seems to be very sensitive. He understands the landscape. He understands his role and understand his unique opportunity to leave an imprint on Israel, growing the business and-

Seth Adler: [crosstalk 00:07:42] is all about speed and all about pace and all about-

Ehud Barak: Yeah, no, it's a-

Seth Adler: ... go, go. Absolutely.

Ehud Barak: He's tough, but thoughtful, and it's important.

Seth Adler: Yes. Exactly. You mentioned that the difference, as you see it, between pharmaceuticalization, if you will, and recreational, just quickly take us through your point of view, there.

Ehud Barak: Look, until now, the boundaries are a little bit blurred between medical [inaudible 00:08:08] all CBDs, at first sight, looks the same, but it will develop. And at pharma grade, it will developed into more and more indicated cocktails to be used for different indications. Until now, we have some 2,000 of indication could be treated with cannabis. It will grow to many thousand, probably a few hundred indications, with huge patients [inaudible 00:08:38] it will move from medical to extremely tight standards medical, and then to FDA approved, and then at certain point the big pharma will enter. We already have Novartis, we are in touch with Tilray, and other-

Seth Adler: Yeah. With Novartis, right? With Tilray, right?

Ehud Barak: Start to look into it. So, it's going to be a big business with IP and patent protected product and pharmaceutical ingredients and so on.

Seth Adler: Yeah.

Ehud Barak: On the other hand, the consumer, recreation, will develop into low-end which will be commoditized within a few years. But later on, there will be a more high-end, like the [inaudible 00:09:27] of CBD, or the Cohiba of CBD, because the variety and the richness of flavors, and personal experiences, will encourage the creation of another kind of product which are very high-end. And I expect the beverage industry, already enter, the vape industry, already enter, the food industry [inaudible 00:09:53] and even cosmetics.

Seth Adler: There we go.

Ehud Barak: So, we will see-

Seth Adler: Here it comes.

Ehud Barak: ... a huge market for CBD.

Seth Adler: I 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? 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. First things first. What has most surprised you in cannabis?

Ehud Barak: The huge potential. I saw that what I've seen several years ago in cyber, is the most kind of exponentially growing opportunity. It ended up with a product which is millennia-old, like cannabis. It could be even more impressive.

Seth Adler: Even more impactful. What's most surprised you in life? As a former prime minister, what would you say to that?

Ehud Barak: My life was so full of surprise I cannot-

Seth Adler: All of them are surprises.

Ehud Barak: ... grade them, and I wait more surprises in the future. So-

Seth Adler: On the soundtrack of your life, one track, one song that's got to be on there. A favorite song, if you have one.

Ehud Barak: A favorite song?

Seth Adler: Yes.

Ehud Barak: Oh, I have too many.

Seth Adler: Maybe The Beatles? Do we like The Beatles?

Ehud Barak: Yeah, I like The Beatles.

Seth Adler: A Little Help From My Friends? How about that one? A Little Help From My Friends?

Ehud Barak: Yeah.

Seth Adler: All right. Ehud Barak, thank you so much. And there you have former prime minister, Ehud Barak, very much appreciate his time, very much appreciate your time. Stay 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.