Davos – Meet Cannabis, and other plant-based medicines – Saul Kaye reports back from CannaTech Davos
Saul Kaye outside the CannaTech Davos Cannabis House with attendees

Davos – Meet Cannabis, and other plant-based medicines – Saul Kaye reports back from CannaTech Davos

Last week, my team and I were in Davos for the annual meeting of the World Economic Forum. We were not participating in the official WEF events and did not carry the right colored badges to access all of the high profile locations. Instead, we hosted a fully dedicated cannabis lounge under the CannaTech umbrella, our premier cannabis events platform. Alongside us were the largest corporations in the world – Facebook, Google, Ikea, Salesforce, SAP, Blackstone – and the like; while the China House, India House, and Caspian House shared the main Davos Platz promenade with us, with their big-budget lounges boasting promises in fancy branded signs. 

And among those corporate giants  there was us, CannaTech, a tiny company, with just 15 employees, still very much in startup mode, seeking capital to help us grow. A very different kind of company than the typical players found at Davos. 

So why were we in Davos? What did we achieve? And will we be back in 2021? 

The reality is that medical cannabis is still not available to everyone who needs it. 

  • In fact, even today in the United States, parents risk jail time to drive across states without medical cannabis to ease their child’s suffering. 
  • In Israel, a country that discovered the endocannabinoid system and the chemical structure of THC and CBD, a soldier suffering from PTSD must go through ridiculous bureaucracy to access a limited supply and limited range of medical cannabis. 
  • In South Africa, where cannabis has been grown for thousands of years, a patient with Parkinson’s will be prescribed multiple pharmaceutical drugs that do not help, before any doctor or carer will offer medical cannabis. 
  • A certified, GMP-approved cannabis medicine grown in California cannot be shipped to a patient in China or Australia or New York for that matter. 

Cannabis has come a long way in the past 5 years, since the first time I stood on the stage at CannaTech Tel Aviv’s inaugural event in March 2016. In North America,  Arkansas, Florida, North Dakota, Ohio, Pennsylvania, Oklahoma and West Virginia recently passed medical marijuana legislation. California, Massachusetts, Nevada, Vermont, Oregon legalized cannabis for adult recreational use. So did Canada, (the entire country) and adults can now walk into a dispensary and buy cannabis products in Toronto, Vancouver and Winnipeg, and drive it across the provinces without fear of arrest. In Israel, medical cannabis licenses were granted to hundreds of farmers, and export was approved by the Knesset. And all across Europe, CBD stores popped up with a huge array of products, some more legitimate than others. 

While decriminalization is happening in some places, cannabis is still federally illegal in the USA and operators around the world, including CannaTech (and we don’t even touch the plant) face a wall of opposition with the banking and financial systems, access to capital, ability to trade globally, advertising blocks on Facebook and more obstacles. So we have a long way to go, to ensure that medical cannabis is available, safely and openly, to all who need it. 

In Davos, our lounge was the talk of the town. People wanted to hear about cannabis, get involved, change the law, and consume. We shared our belief that plant-based medicines are the future and we came to Davos to spread that message among the forum’s influential attendees. We believe the people at Davos can make the change and drive the global cannabis ecosystem in line with the Davos goals of sustainable globalization.

Another reason we came, and a big part of the buzz around the Cannabis House, was the inclusion of Psychedelic Medicine for mental healthcare in our presentations and discussions. The connection between Psychedelics and Cannabis is clear to us – plant-based medicines are a better alternative for many mental health conditions and have too long been blocked by misguided information, poor regulation and irrational fear. In our full afternoon of presentations, leading medical professionals from around the world, including Dr. Mark Braunstein from Colorado and Rick Doblin the founder of MAPS (Multidisciplinary Association for Psychedelic Studies), shared their clinical research and progress in psychedelic medicine, opening minds in Davos to the potential/future of Psychedelic Medical Treatment. 

I am a licensed pharmacist in Israel and in Australia, so I know that cannabis helps people. Yet I cannot legally dispense cannabis to a single patient in either country; patients are denied this safe, effective and cheap medicine. I want to change that for all Israelis and all Australians  – and I want to change it for every patient wherever they are. 

If you were in Davos and came to listen and learn from us, I thank you for opening your mind to the potential of cannabis and other plant-based medicines. If you missed us there, I invite you to join us at one of our upcoming events around the world and make the change in your country. We will be in Thailand soon, followed by Europe, Africa, LATAM and then back to Australia. 

A special thank you to our partners Stromback, KannaSwiss, The CSE and OTC Markets, Alvit Pharma, SCU, Artemis Partners, Essenza Cannabis, Golden Eagle Partners, CannaGlobal, Tress Capital and Vanguard Scientific for joining us in Davos 2020. 

And yes, hopefully, we will be back in Davos in 2021.

Saul Kaye



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