STORIES

Israeli Army Vets Wanted for Cannabis Work

By Ziv Genesove on February 27, 2019

In late January, after years of struggle and arguments, the Israeli government announced that it approved the export of cannabis, and now Israeli cannabis companies are seeking to expand the workforce as soon as they possibly can. One of those Israeli cannabis companies plans to appeal directly to a targeted audience: veterans who just completed their military service.

A real lifesaver for the local cannabis industry

The Israeli cannabis market opened the year with sensational news: The local government declared they have finally agreed to open the export of cannabis from Israel to foreign countries. The announcement of the dramatic decision induced madness in the entire Israeli cannabis industry, and the vigorous search for working hands ensued.

The cannabis plant is still considered an illegal substance in Israel. Tens of thousands are detained each year for self-consumption, so the only way to grow cannabis legally would be to become a company that is qualified to supply cannabis to the medical market.

The problem is that, unlike other countries with a medical cannabis program where a medical permit can be acquired relatively simply for simple symptoms (for example, sleeplessness or headaches), in Israel the process requires a lengthy and cumbersome procedure. It includes countless meetings with doctors, filling and filing documents, and even proof of purchase of "conventional" drugs before receiving permission for cannabis sales.

For this reason, a number of patients treated with medical cannabis in Israel has remained relatively small, at around 30,000 patients, which naturally caused many cannabis companies to seek additional income in overseas markets.

"We wanted to show our appreciation"

Despite the great euphoria with the news of export approval, it seems as if most Israeli cannabis companies were not ready for this move. Currently, there are only two Israeli cannabis companies that have the relevant documents and have complied with the stringent requirements entitling a permit to export cannabis abroad.

One of those two companies approved for export is BOL Pharma. Now the company wants to expand and seeks fresh manpower among young people who have recently been discharged from military service.

"We decided to go with this idea because we wanted to show our appreciation," BOL founder and director Hagai Hillman told PRØHBTD. "These guys gave three years of their lives to serve the country, and this is our way of saying thanks and helping them integrate back to society."

Besides the willingness to help discharged soldiers, Hillman admits that the company gains a very good workforce in return. "These fellows are in shape, and very disciplined," he says, "they came to learn and to work, and they don't fool around."

The company specializes in several areas related to cannabis, such as cultivation, packaging, extraction, transporting, etc. But the new workers who have just stripped off the army uniform will probably be engaged in agricultural work in the greenhouse. Those who last a full year will receive a £4,000 grant.

A national project for army veterans

It is important to note that in Israel, a project known as a "preferential job" was founded in order to fulfill two main goals :

1. To assist the integration of discharged soldiers into the local labor market and civilian life.

2. To encourage the Jewish population to work in jobs that they perceive as less popular, such as in the construction industry or agriculture.

In the framework of the project, every discharged soldier who worked four to six months in one of the places approved as "preferential job" will receive a one-time grant at the end of that period of nearly 10,000 NIS (around $2,800 in U.S. dollars). BOL decided to take this project a step further and give the discharged soldiers the possibility of choosing whether they want to work for another period of six months in order to double their bonus.

"It will not be a bed of roses"

Needless to say, agricultural companies engaged in growing cannabis are automatically perceived as more attractive for the young Israeli discharged soldiers, compared to agricultural work on other crops.

"The cannabis market is a very interesting area," says Itzik, a discharged soldier who recently applied for a job at a BOL. "I used to live in a Kibbutz, so I have some experience of working with different crops, but as I said, cannabis is a relatively new and promising industry, so I think it will be a very interesting experience. From what I understood, the daily work at a cannabis farm isn't too different from any other agriculture work. So, I presume we will get a bit dirty with soil, do some transplanting, take care of the irrigation systems, and other kinds of maintenance work. I'm sure this job will not be a bed of roses, but considering what I just went through in the army, I'm pretty sure I will be able to handle it."

Photo credit: Israel Defense Forces/Wikimedia (main) and BOL Pharma.

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