The Ministry of Health has suspended cannabis production by Tikun Olam at its hothouse in Biriya, saying that the growing conditions were unsuitable. The measure raises questions about the entire industry, which has made many headlines recently.
The Ministry of Health explained the step by stating, "Seriously defects were found in the farm, including contamination and improper growing (outdoor, rather than in hothouses). Pruned cannabis was left on the ground, forbidden pesticides were used, inflorescences were dried in a contaminated place, and production took place in improper conditions."
Tikun Olam said in response that the closure order was temporary, and that what the Ministry of Health said was in any case inaccurate. According to Tikun Olam, following the increase in demand for cannabis in Israel, it began to separate two drying methods for cannabis: drying using air currents using devices, the method used up until now, and external drying - simply hanging the products in the open air or within the incubator. Tikun Olam said that the products dried in the open air underwent a process of sterilization using beta rays in a facility in Nahal Sorek. The company added that it used no pesticides whatsoever.
Sources inform "Globes" that Tikun Olam is now in the process of moving its production from the facility in Biriya, which is not approved according to GAP standards (the proper agricultural production standards for food additives and medicinal plants), to a new facility in Beit Yehoshua designed to meet all the standards, but which will be active only three months from now.
The temporary closure order first served last Thursday, and the company and the Ministry of Health have been in discussions since then. As of now, the company still requires approval for the facility in Beit Yehoshua; until such approval is obtained, it cannot export from Israel or market its products under the cannabis reform in Israel, which took effect last April, and which will make the standard binding as of mid-2019.
Other cannabis farms have received similar closure orders in the past, but corrected the defects and resumed regular activity.
Published by Globes, Israel business news - en.globes.co.il - on November 4, 2018
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