U.S. firms are farming out cannabis research and development to Israel. As Ivor Bennett reports, they're attracted by its highly developed agriculture technology and more liberal approach to marijuana studies.
It is exactly what it looks like. But its recipient perhaps a little surprising. 65-year-old Noa is indeed smoking pot and has been for 6 months. (SOUNDBITE) (Hebrew) NOA, 65-YEAR-OLD PATIENT SPEAKING TO NURSE, SAYING: "I have been suffering disabling pain for so many years. Now I can function again." Cannabis is in fact illegal in Israel. Something that makes its stance on medical marijuana even more remarkable. Researchers are exploring its treatment on everything from epilepsy to bone fractures. While the government is easing prescription rules. Tel Aviv recently hosted the industry's first ever global conference. Attendance was unsurprisingly high. (SOUNDBITE) (English) SAUL KAYE, CEO OF ICAN, ORGANISER OF CANNATECH CONFERENCE, SAYING: "I see money in the room, billions of dollars came to see what's going on in Israel." Most of the money is American. Though medical marijuana is allowed in 23 U.S. states, its research is strictly controlled. So since 2014 US companies have invested 50 million dollars in Israeli research. Hoping to cash in on an American market that's projected to be worth 23 billion dollars by 2020. But one industry pioneer warns firms may be left huffing and puffing. (SOUNDBITE) (English) PROFESSOR RAPHAEL MECHOULAM OF THE HEBREW UNIVERSITY, WORLD PIONEER IN STUDY OF MEDICAL CANNABIS, SAYING: "it is difficult, it's complicated and if somebody thinks that he can get into medical cannabis and make millions tomorrow morning, it's... from my understanding not so simple." Maybe not, but in Israel, it seems medical marijuana is very much on a roll.