Blending the Private and Public to Advance Cannabis Use An Exclusive Interview with Dr. Yehuda Baruch

Israel
leads the world in research into the health and medical benefits of cannabis.
It is not just a leader in research but also in providing medicinal cannabis to
patients to treat a variety of ailments. The person most responsible for
guiding Israel to the forefront of medical cannabis research and use is Dr.
Yehuda Baruch, who was the Director of the Israeli Medical Use of Cannabis
Program from 2003-2012.

During
his tenure, Dr. Baruch developed the present program increasing the number of
patients from 64 to almost 14,000. He personally evaluated every request made
by a patient before the medical cannabis permit was issued.

Hands-on
responsibilities continued as he was in charge of how patients were to obtain
medical cannabis, including issuing growing permits and developing agricultural
standards. Most significantly he developed educational programs on the health
and medical efficacy of cannabis use by patients for physicians, nurses and
other Israeli health care professionals.

Dr. Baruch was also the CEO of the Abarbanel Mental Health
Center, Head of the Israeli Mental Health Centers and CEO of the Tel Aviv
branch of the Israeli Psychiatric Association. Dr. Baruch is now the Director of Research for One World Cannabis Ltd. (OWC) and
is shifting a significant amount of his time from the public sector into
the private sector. OWC is quite the prototype for a
significant number of 21st century cannabis businesses.

The Company’s
Research Division is focused on pursuing clinical trials that evaluate the
effectiveness of cannabinoids in the treatment of various medical conditions,
while its Consulting Division is dedicated to helping governments and companies
navigate complex international cannabis regulatory frameworks.

 

How
did you come to work with cannabis?

I was the head of the Medical
Division of the Ministry of Health. The person responsible for the cannabis
program became General Manager for the Ministry of Health and he asked me to
take care of the cannabis. I was not very much excited about it. Only two years
later after I was head of the project did I get interested when I got a moving
call from a dying cancer patient. He said he knew it was his last days and he
just wanted to thank me for allowing him to use cannabis as it gave him the
opportunity to say goodbye to his friends and family and depart with dignity
from this world. This was really moving and even now when I talk about it I get
tears in my eyes.

 

When
you first started working at the program, did you believe cannabis had medical
benefits?

At the beginning I would not
accept it. I had the idea that cannabis was only bad for you and has no medical
qualities. It only gave you a high – maybe some good but only for dying
patients. Only later did I discover its properties as a pain killer, an
anti-emetic medicine, treating spastic problems and so forth.

 

OWC
is working to develop cannabinoid oil based formulations – would those
formulations be single cannabinoids, multi- or whole plant?

They will be whole cannabis
extracts but we will have a specific amount of a specific grade of at least 8
cannabinoids and a few bioflavonoids.
We will know the exact percentage ratio of each one.

We will be changing these THC/CBD
ratios within specific devices or formulations. Exactly what is better for each
disease is being worked on at this time. We believe certain ratios will be
better for specific diseases than other ratios. With time we will have a data
base on which other cannabinoids can be seen to be more or less important for
the medical results you want to obtain.

 

How
do you determine what are beneficial ratios?

With multiple myeloma we are using
at least two different ratios and are now doing a clinical trial on patient
cell cultures to see which ratios give the best results. We will first test the
formulation on their cell culture and only if it works on their cell culture
will we give it to the patients.

 

Are
strains important?

As far as we know the strains are
important – all three kinds – high THC, low CBD, medium THC/medium CBD, low
THC/high CBD. We try to define which strains are beneficial for what diseases
or for what symptoms at least. We know that for some diseases although pure CBD
works better than pure THC, the combination of THC and CBD works even better.

When we use medical cannabis we
try to have a high concentration of THC and in various strains we have various
concentrations of CBD up to high CBD and low THC, medium THC and medium CBD. We
know people react differently to the various strains and they have to try
various strains until they find the strain that is beneficial for them.

 

You
said you want to have high THC concentrations. Why do you want that?

In pain management, THC is of
major value – higher than CBD. Depends on the reasons for the pain, neuropathic
pain yes – less for oncological pain or infectious disease pain. Even if we do
have high THC up to 20%, we will have CBD at least 2% to 6% to counter effect
the high caused by the THC.

 

OWC
is doing cancer studies. What are you finding out?

We are doing only cell cultures
with promising results.

 

When
you saying “promising results,” do you mean in the cancer-killing properties
that have been ascribed to cannabinoids?

Yes

 

Can
cannabis be a curative for cancer?

We believe it will at least be an
adjunct therapy and not only in palliative medicine but also in curative
medicine.

What I can tell you is that in
Sheba Hospital in Israel they looked for differences between oncological
patients who use cannabis compared to oncological patients who did not use
cannabis and I am talking about all kinds of oncological patents. What they
found out is that there is a better quality of life for those who use cannabis,
but there is nearly no difference in survival rate.

 

What
is your opinion of people using RSO and claiming remission?

I have not checked the specific
cases. In this point of time I would not recommend stopping any other
chemotherapy but patients should consider cannabis as an adjunct therapy.

 

One
World has is obtaining patents for unique cannabinoid delivery methods? What is
so special about these delivery methods?

First of all I cannot be too
specific I hope you understand. We are talking about four ways of delivery –
cream, soluble pill, nasal spray. We are debating a 4th one which is
a suppository. I have had some experience as using cannabis as a suppository,
mainly in Ulcerative colitis and Crohn’s Disease and we
have had very good results with less side effects

 

What
about patents on cannabis? Are they hush-hush?

Actually the delivery systems are
more hush-hush because we believe them to be superior to smoking cannabis
flower buds. In cannabis the patent on cannabis itself
does not hold. Let’s say we patent a cannabis strain with 12% THC and 4.5% CBD.
We say it is the best strain and even if we have six other cannabinoids tested
and say this is our specific strain, a competitor can take the same strain,
change the amount of CBD by one-tenth of one percent and it will be considered
a different strain altogether. A patent on a cannabis strain does not hold any
economic value.

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