The Israeli cannabis industry is one of the most advanced in the world. A thriving market for cannabis companies exists thanks to a framework of supportive cultivation laws, some progressive open-minded government thinking, and friendly legislation. One Israeli licensed cannabis grower that has done particularly well is called Together Pharma. They have partnered together with Dutch Passion for cannabis seed supply and consultancy.
Growing cannabis with purpose and passion
‘Together Pharma’ is a huge and highly professional licensed cannabis grower. They employ about 200 people at their production and research/breeding facilities in Israel and Uganda. They represent the new breed of high-tech cannabis exporters and have four cannabis licenses. This includes a license for cannabis breeding and one for cultivation.
“We are driven to better understand and facilitate the medical benefits of cannabis. Therefore, this is more than just a business opportunity. We feel committed to providing medical cannabis to patients that are suffering from chronic pains or other conditions. We are happy we can provide them a way to control the pain, instead of the pain controlling them”, explains Nir Amikam, Chief Agronomist at Together Pharma.
In addition, Together Pharma have a license for cannabis GMP (Good Manufacturing Practice) and one for GDP (Good Distribution Practice). They buy their cannabis seeds from Dutch Passion and focus on THC-rich strains as well as those rich in CBD/other cannabinoids.
Breeding priorities for legal cannabis producers
Legal cannabis producers such as Together Pharma have to grow strains with predictable, reliable growth. They need consistent genetics in order to ensure repeatable, reproducible harvests with predictable cannabinoid and terpene profiles. Breeding priorities are for high quality results, harvest after harvest with cannabis concentrates and flowers which can command premium prices and maximum customer satisfaction.
Acquiring premium cannabis seed genetics
For Together Pharma, it all starts with the cannabis seeds. Whether the seeds are THC rich, CBD rich or even THCV rich. Together Pharma strive to deliver the best grow conditions and the best quality cannabis genetics.
Dutch Passion is a trusted partner for professional quality cannabis genetics and is able to export cannabis seeds from The Netherlands complete with all official Dutch Government export paperwork including Phytosanitary certificates guaranteeing the authenticity of the genetics as well as ensuring that the cannabis seeds are free of pests/disease.
Several Dutch Passion strains have been selected by Together Pharma including Blueberry, Meringue, Mokum’s Tulip and CBD Charlotte’s Angel (high CBD). THC Victory (THCV rich cannabis seeds) is also being studied.
“We brought around 26 to 30 varieties to Israel and tested everything, claims Nir Amikam. First of all to see which varieties work best for us as a company. But also to see and decide which varieties to grow. Obviously, we grow varieties that best meet the market demand. We see that the market has changed a bit; everyone wants products with the highest THC levels from 20% and above. That is why we are focussing on the high THC strains at the moment.”
Enforcing tight breeding procedures
Together Pharma have worked hard to get their GMP and GDP cannabis licenses. In early 2018, they became one of the first companies to obtain not less than 4 licenses from the Israeli government (breeding license, growing license, GMP facility, GDP license).
Their work is focused on the production of medical cannabis oils and buds. To do this they also do some breeding and rely heavily on lab testing to ensure the potency, quality, and cannabinoid profiles in all their end products.
In an effort to minimize/eliminate chemicals during cultivation, pest predators such as Phytoseiulus Persimilis (a predatory mite) and Aphidius Coleman (a parasitic wasp) are used.
All plants are grown in coco fiber and quality-controls, as well as lab analysis, are enforced at each stage of production as pointed out by Nir Sosinsky, managing director at Together Pharma.
“We have over 30 employees only for the post-harvest procedures: for trimming, drying, and curing. We harvest the whole plant, we take it to a room and in this room, we do a visual inspection before we take it into the drying room. We don’t want to get any mold or insects into our drying room. We want the drying room to be as clean and sanitized as we can. After 7 days of drying, we start to trim the plants. We have an automatic trim machine (Batch 1 of Twister trimmer) that is used for dry trimming of the flowers. It keeps the trichomes intact, it is not touching the trichomes at all. It is actually very good for the product. After the trimming, we start curing for around 3 weeks”.
Controlling the product quality from one end to the other of the process
Starting with the highest quality cannabis seeds and combining this with professional GMP (Good Manufacturing Practice) has allowed Together Pharma to build a reputation for consistently high-end cannabis quality. This has ensured plenty of repeat export customers in Europe, Africa, South America as well as domestic sales to Israeli medical cannabis users.
“As a Licensed Produce, we must do a lot of lab tests according to the GAP and GMP procedures, explains Nir Sosinsky. Since we are working under medical regulations in Israel, everything is checked a couple of times. Even in the farm stage everything is checked a few times: in the middle of the growing and in the end of the growing. We are doing CoA’s (certificate of analysis) on the farm and when we are sending it to the GMP facility. We do a CoA in the beginning of the product and in the end of the product. For our products, we do at least 4 checkings in the whole process. Moreover, we work closely with the patients that use our final products; they share their thoughts about our products and their experiences.”
Put quality above any other consideration
Building a successful licensed cannabis production business is never easy. Balancing the various breeding priorities takes skill. Quality harvests need to be produced in bulk with fast bloom times with costs kept under control at all times. Experienced staff, the best advice, the most economically-effective grow methods and the right industry partners are key to your success. Common themes amongst the most successful producers are an unrelenting focus on optimised grow conditions, cost-control, expert staff and the best cannabis seeds.