A Pennsylvania marijuana producer is partnering with an Israeli cannabis pioneer to cultivate and sell proprietary strains of the plant in the Keystone State.
Ilera Healthcare operates a medical marijuana cultivation facility in Waterfall, Fulton County. Ilera plans to open its first state-permitted dispensary in Plymouth Meeting on May 4.
Tikun Olam — the name means "Repair the World" in Hebrew — is a powerhouse in cannabis research. And in Israel, it dominates the medical marijuana market. The Tel Aviv-based company has developed dozens of proprietary genetic strains, some of which are designed to alleviate anxiety, depression, nausea, pain associated with cancer, and other ailments, a spokesman said.
The partnership allows Ilera to cultivate and sell strains developed by Tikun.
"We wanted to bring together the real science with real premium medicine," said Oludare Odumosu, chief operating officer for Ilera. "That's why we sought them out."
Tikun has conducted clinical studies with Israeli hospitals, universities and nursing homes and collected data from 20,000 Israeli patients, said Stephen Gardner, the chief marketing officer for Tikun Olam USA.
Unlike in the United States, where the federal government outlaws it, medical marijuana is permitted in Israel. Gardner said the relaxed regulatory atmosphere has allowed Tikun to conduct small, double-blind clinical studies on the effects of marijuana on Crohn's disease and colitis.
The company also has studied substituting cannabis for opioids in nearly 3,000 cancer patients.
"By using specific strains, we were able to eliminate opioids in 36 percent of a test group," Gardner said. "They were able to move off opioids and use cannabis as a pain relief management tool."
Gardner said Tikun and Ilera have no plans to participate in Pennsylvania's groundbreaking clinical research program, which is designed to pair marijuana cultivators with medical schools.
"We're going to do a clinical research program on our own," said Gardner, adding that Tikun's senior management is rooted in the pharmaceutical industry. "They believe that on their own they can do trials that are important within the existing structure."
Tikun already has licensing partnerships with growing facilities and dispensaries in California, Delaware, Massachusetts, Nevada, Rhode Island, and Washington state.