Outspoken Israel entrepreneur Clifton Flack has lost faith in medical cannabis and believes the future is CBD.
His business CiiTech was established in Israel and is now based in the U.K. to take advantage of its booming cannabis oil industry. Speaking at the Hemp & CBD Expo at Birmingham, England, he told CBD Testers: “The numbers don’t stack up for medical cannabis.
Medical Cannabis in the U.K.
“Here in the U.K. there are over one million people using CBD and not a single prescription has been written for that, as it has been supplied as a nutraceutical food product.”
“Yet in Israel, after 40 years of research, a huge amount of time and resources, directives, committees and form-filling there are just 40,000 medical cannabis patients and zero CBD. The numbers don’t stack up for medical cannabis and then there are ethical issues.”
His epiphany came when discussing with a U.K. based Israeli woman who was considering a relative’s return home for medical cannabis to treat Crohn’s Disease.
“CBD is all you need for Crohn’s, it’s inflammation, and after a quick search of the internet I found there are 125,000 suffers in the U.K. I thought to myself, ‘Oh my god, if they all knew they could get CBD today, There are 125,000 of them, why don’t they know?
“Because we in cannabis world convince them – fake news, misleading information – we have created an enormous lie that they cannot get cannabis medicine until the government changes the law and it’s a lie, a horrible, big lie.”
‘We Don’t Need Cannabis Medicine’
“As education increases one million people are learning; we don’t need cannabis medicine,” he added. Medical cannabis was first delivered on prescription back in Israel in 1973, and the science of the cannabis plant has been unlocked by godfather of cannabis research Professor Raphael Mechoulam.
CiiTech’s strategic research partner is Hebrew University of Jerusalem, and its initial study in partnership with Prof Mechoulam, looked at the potential for a CBD derivative as a treatment for asthma.
Yet, the fact that after almost 40 years of medical cannabis prescribing there are only 40,000 patients is a source of immense frustration for Mr Flack.
“The great anomaly of the industry is that cannabis knowledge began in Israel, the most advanced and Government mandated cannabis patient program is in Israel. So, It’s no surprise we choose to leverage the country’s knowledge and experience to develop our ranges of CBD.
“However, our products remain illegal and unavailable in Israel. Whilst in and from the U.K., we’re able to supply unrestrained. Customers are able to choose without interference and make choices and decisions without the need for medical professionals, who don’t have the answers.”
Big Pharma Bypass?
The widespread availability of CBD in the U.K., elsewhere in Europe and North America has led many – including Mr Flack – to question whether the major pharmaceutical companies will enter the cannabis space.
GW Pharmaceutical’s cannabis drug Epidiolex, which is essentially a CBD isolate, is one of the few such cannabis drugs currently available. Mr Flack continued: “GW Pharma has spent some £300m and over 10 years of research to show the benefit of cannabis as a drug, and that’s amazing.
“They have their niche and seem to be doing well, but where are the others? Are there any pharma companies hot on their heels?” No, there aren’t any. Where pharma companies will be involved is in the area, where it’s not seen as a food supplement, such as innovative medical devices, delivery systems, inhalers and hypodermics, for example.
“Then there are the cannabinoids that are not found in plants; the endocannabinoids (those found in humans) such as anandamide, and they will have to come from big pharma.”
He questions whether patients will be prepared to pay £1,500 for Epidiolex when they can buy a month’s supply for around £30 from retailers, or on-line. He added: “Every single pharmaceutical company is watching GW to see if they’ll make make money.”
Nothing Novel About CBD Directive
On the vexed issue of the European Novel Food authorization Mr Flack pulled no punches. Moves are afoot to circumvent the January Novel Food classification with a twin track approach that will see hemp extracts exempt from the directive, whilst CBD isolates are included.
“We accept isolate was not around before 1997, and while we know they are safe, we can understand the direction of Novel Food, here.
“But they (the European Commission) added hemp extract in January. This is wrong and it is not enforceable and it was unlawful to do it. There are established protocols for this and they were not followed. There was no consultation period, and we have been asking for the release of the documentation in relation to this since January.
“They are refusing, because they do not exist, and there are conspiracy theories regarding its implementation. But, here in the we believe the U.K. the Food Standards Agency are aware of the realities through their work with the Cannabis Trades Association.”
While the Novel Food impasse has provoked great uncertainty it has had one upside said Mr Flack. “In the meantime, the good thing, it has slowed down the entry of big boys,” he added.