I love Israel for a lot of reasons. And I’m not about to say that a great hummus dive is the only reason I love Israel – but it’s a good enough reason to spend a minute or two blogging for iCAN:israel-cannabis.com. For the uninitiated among us – think taco stand in Southern California except instead of nachos, it’s fresh, hot pita bread and all manner of creamy, garlic legume dips dripping with olive oil, cumin and hot peppers for which to slop-up your pita. It’s the pulse of the people and it’s yum. So, one of my favorite hummus joints is this sweet, clean, super tasty little dive in Karmiel (northern Israel) called Hummus Eliahu. It’s one of a 32 nation wide chains and owned by a great guy with a knack for excellent customer service and love of soul food and great music.
So yesterday I set up shop in Hummus Eliahu with our resident Israel-Cannabis IT wizard and we got to work on some web-based iCAN stuff. The work went smooth and easy. Turkish coffee and fresh olives were flowin’. As I got up to thank the owner for the meal and hospitality, he stopped me and said “Can I talk to you for a minute?” He had noticed our screens flashing words like “medical cannabis,” “cannabis innovation,” “CannaTech.” He’d heard of CannaTech and he wanted to know what it was all about. We schmoozed about the vision behind gathering 450 cannabis industry leaders from 28 countries – and about building a thriving global ecosystem to enable collaboration between disciplines in this space. We spoke about Israel’s unique contributions to the world’s understanding of cannabis, how we are leaders in science and discovery and about our regulatory system that allows us to do what we do. (You average Israeli does not typically know this).
We spoke briefly about the basic makeup of the cannabis plant, what it does, how and why it works. We were quickly joined by a young soldier who overheard us talking and wanted to share his story about terrible stomach pain he’s had since he served in the second Lebanon war. He takes prescription meds for it, but it doesn’t work and “maybe,” he asked shyly, “maybe medical cannabis could help me?”
Maybe it could brother.
As we spoke, a few more local patrons joined us and it morphed into a straight up cannabis speakeasy. I noticed a table of four police officers sitting in the back left corner of the shop digging into their hummus with super focus, oblivious to the fact that a class one narcotic is getting a long overdue re-brand to a crowd of regular people who want to know stuff. And there I am, a self-pronounced medical cannabis “preacher,” sharing what I know without shame, apology, or exception. I wasn’t pushing an agenda or promoting drug-use or deviant behavior, I was simply offering health education to an audience that sought me out to explain it. Fancy that. What a beautiful and blessed thing it is to live in a democratic country where every citizen is granted the right to speak freely, to speak easy. And even more than that, there is active, productive dialog taking place in this country, changes that Israel-cannabis is a part of; changes that could make a big difference in a lot of people’s lives. #gratitude. I know we still have a long way to go, but if I learned anything from my impromptu, hummus dive speakeasy it is this: the audience is listening. This is good news.
POSTSCRIPT: I spoke with the owner, Roi about using Hummus Eliahu in Karmiel to host an informal Cannabis 101 evening dedicated to learning the basics about medical cannabis. It so happens that he’s totally into it. If you live in up north and are interested in participating, give me a shout out at firstname.lastname@example.org we’ll keep the pitas warm for you 🙂