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Israeli Kibbutz to Become Worldwide Medical Marijuana Hub

In start-up nation, the standards just keep getting higher

Liel Leibovitz
September 19, 2017

Gan Shmuel is one of Israel’s oldest kibbutzim. It was founded in 1913 when Jewish pioneers, having just founded Hadera, built a two-story house near an orchard close by. They kept animals on the ground floor and lived above, trying—and failing—to raise etrogs. Eventually, the kibbutz thrived, but nothing in its rich history prepared it for what’s about to come: Gan Shmuel will soon become a major worldwide center for the production and distribution of medical marijuana.

Earlier this month, the kibbutz partnered with Cronos, a Canadian cannabis conglomerate, and will soon begin building a 45,000 square feet greenhouse that will produce up to five tons annually, a capacity both partners hope will expand to 24 tons a year before too long. An additional 11,000 laboratory will serve for research and development of effective new brands of weed.

“Israel has an ideal climate for growing cannabis with abundant light to support year-round greenhouse cultivation without the need for supplemental flower lighting,” read a statement from Cronos. “The Israeli climate, combined with Gan Shmuel’s existing manufacturing infrastructure and skilled labor force, will enable Cronos Israel to produce high quality medical cannabis at an expected cost of between $0.40 and $0.50 per gram.” Some of the supply will serve the local medical marijuana market, instantly making Gan Shmuel the largest player in the Israeli market. The rest will be exported.

“This isn’t just about becoming the lowest cost producer in the world,” said Mike Gorenstein, Cronos’s CEO. “Establishing a major operation in Israel gives us frontline exposure to leading medical cannabis research and innovation. Cronos Israel is a significant step in raising the standard of medical cannabis globally.” In start-up nation, the standards just keep getting higher.

Liel Leibovitz is editor at large for Tablet Magazine and a host of its weekly culture podcast Unorthodox and daily Talmud podcast Take One.

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