June 27 - Cannabis growers in Israel have cultivated marijuana that doesn't get you high. Recreational smokers may not see the point, but according to its developers, high-less pot gives people suffering from chronic pain and disease a way to get the all the medical benefits of weed while keeping their senses. Tara Cleary reports.
STORY: These cannabis plants in northern Israel are taking the "silly" out of smoking pot. Tikun Olam, the company responsible for them, has found a way to produce cannabis without the side effect of getting stoned. What?! Marijuana without a "high" - but that's pointless, no? Well, not quite - with this plant, cannabis' many medical benefits are heightened. Tikun Olam's Zach Klein explains. SOUNDBITE: ZACH KLEIN, HEAD OF DEVELOPMENT AT TIKUN OLAM, SAYING (English): "Not all of the people can enjoy the high. For some of them, it's not what they want. So they use the new plant that has all the qualities, all the medicinal qualities of Cannabis but without the high, without the psycho-active effect." The plant has very low levels of THC - the ingredient in cannabis that makes people high - and it has enhanced levels of another element, CBD or Cannabidiol. CBD has anti-inflammatory benefits and about six months ago Tikun Olam made a major breakthrough with "Avidekel", a cannabis plant that contains almost 16 percent CBD and only traces of THC. Professor Ruth Gallily from the Hebrew University has been studying CBD for more than 12 years. SOUNDBITE: PROFESSOR RUTH GALLILY OF THE HEBREW UNIVERSITY, SAYING (English): "Cannabis plant, enriched with CBD, can be used for treating diseases such as rheumatoid arthritis, colitis, liver inflammation, heart disease, and diabetes. Very inexpensive, no side effects, just optimum drug." Nine thousand people currently use cannabis in Israel to treat illnesses like cancer, Parkinson's and multiple sclerosis. And many welcome their newfound mental clarity. SOUNDBITE: UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE PATIENT WHO USES THC-FREE MEDICAL CANNABIS SAYING (Hebrew): "For me it's a huge advantage because it's very easy for me now to smoke during the day, and to function this way with a lot less pain and still be focused, work and drive. It is really a great gift." A gift that Klein sees as the first step in a long campaign to cultivate the plant's popularity. SOUNDBITE: ZACH KLEIN, HEAD OF DEVELOPMENT AT TIKUN OLAM, SAYING (English): "I think that cannabis will become main medicine and main treatment, not as it is today. Our main goal is to bring it to the center of medicine so it will be available for those who need it." And those patients can get physical relief without their senses going up in smoke. Tara Cleary, Reuters.