Student Spotlight: Across the Pond & Beyond – The International Ganjier Experience

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Cannabis is global agriculture. Similar to the spice trade, cannabis as a commodity, medicine and revered substance of value has traveled around the globe. As the plant was introduced to various regions and cultures, cannabis became a symbol of that place, environment and society. 

The Ganjier Cannabis Sommelier Training program brings cannabis aficionados from all over the world, joined together by love and appreciation for the plant. I connected with two such students, Hannah from the UK, and Nitzan from Israel to find out more about why they are becoming Ganjiers and the cannabis culture in their home countries.

Why did you decide to enter the Ganjier program? 

Hannah: There is a developing medical cannabis sector in the UK and as a parent of a patient and also a stakeholder in the growing sector I felt it was imperative that I understood the cannabis plant from first principles. The Ganjier course will give me all the tools to understand right from the seed to sale, how a quality product is produced.

Nitzan: I decided to enter the Ganjier program because I think education and know-how are critical for this fast developing industry. To learn from industry leaders and develop an international network are great assets. 

Hannah, you are from England, what is the cannabis culture like there? 

The law changed in November 2018 to allow doctors on the specialist register to prescribe cannabis based medicines. Cannabis in its raw form is still a Schedule 1 drug and remains illegal. There is data from a recent YouGov Poll showing that there are around 1.4 million illegal users of cannabis who are using it for medicinal purposes. There is a growing appetite for legalisation on cannabis as a whole but currently politically it looks like this is unlikely to happen.

Nitzan, You are from Israel, a world leader in medical cannabis research, what is the non-medical cannabis culture like there?

The non-medical cannabis culture is not legal. It might be surprising but the quality and diversity of the illicit market are much better than the medical cannabis market. The non-medical market is mostly based on flower and hash consumption. A high percentage of the population consumes cannabis on a daily basis. There is easy access for non-medical cannabis with delivery on the same day and wide options of quality and price range. Still, there is a lack of understanding from the consumer’s and seller side. People are pretty open about their non medical cannabis consumption and it’s widely discussed on the social media channels, street etc.. You can see and smell people smoking everywhere, on the street, beach, working space, bars and homes. 

How would your community benefit from cannabis legalization? 

Hannah: Currently even though the law changed in 2018 there are only 3 NHS prescriptions for whole plant cannabis, one being for my son Alfie to treat his refractory epilepsy. There is a growing private sector where currently, for children at least, cannabis based medicines are hugely expensive, up to $2,000 pounds per month for one month’s supply! The NHS are pushing against access due to what they say is lack of robust evidence of safety especially in children. IF the Government accepted the exceptionality of cannabis as a botanical medicine and supported the creation of a new framework which recognised the benefits of real world data for cannabis many millions of patients would benefit. I’m sure access would be far more readily available as doctors would feel more confident to prescribe. 

Nitzan: Our community will benefit from full cannabis legalization from different aspects. First, we will have access to widely different products. Competition between companies will result in better price and quality, and the products we will purchase will be under certain standards and regulations. The culture of recreational cannabis will also improve. At the moment I’m writing this, there is a missile attack on Israel. This is an example of reality that creates anxiety and PTSD, therefore I think this is one of the reasons that there is a high consumption of cannabis in Israel.

How would your community benefit from access to a trained Ganjier? 

Hannah: I work within the UK medical cannabis sector to help support what I believe should be a patient centred industry. My training will enable me to advise businesses in this space with far more confidence which I hope in time will benefit patients by ensuring we create products which are most beneficial to patients. 

Nitzan: The community will benefit from access to trained Ganjiers in many ways. They will know how to choose the best products suited for their needs, they will learn much more about cannabis and how to examine different products in terms of quality, price updates, knowledge and much more.
Thank you to Hannah and Nitzan for participating and for being international ambassadors for the Ganjier! The Ganjier Certification Training program welcomes students from across the globe. Check our course pages for details.

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