Former prime minister Ehud Olmert has joined medical cannabis firm Univo Pharmaceuticals Ltd. as an investor and adviser, the firm, which cultivates, researches and produces cannabis products, said on Wednesday.
Olmert, who served 16 months in prison for bribery, is currently the head of Israel’s Public Council for Healthy Lifestyles, and he leads a private VC that invests in medical technology companies in Israel, according to a statement issued by Univo.
As a former health minister, “Olmert will contribute his vast experience and help promote Univo’s business goals both in Israel and globally, and will support the company’s future fundraising efforts,” the statement said.
Israel is known as a pioneer in cannabis research. Hebrew University’s Prof. Raphael Mechoulam kick-started the field in 1964, when he discovered tetrahydrocannabinol, or THC, the main psychoactive constituent of cannabis. The field has attracted a number of high profile personalities, including former prime minister Ehud Barak, who last year was appointed chairman of one of Israel’s biggest medical cannabis firms to lead its global growth strategy, and former Israel Police commissioner Yohanan Danino.
Univo, founded in 2016 and headed by CEO Golan Bitton, is traded on the Tel Aviv Stock Exchange. The firm is currently setting up a 750 square meter (8,000 square feet) facility that will include an R&D lab to grow cannabis and develop a variety of products, the statement said.
“The tech revolution has entered the medical cannabis space and is expediting all R&D, manufacturing, and even regulatory procedures, with the goal of relieving pain for patients suffering from a spectrum of diseases,” Olmert said in the statement. “Israel is stepping up and joining the world’s most progressive nations in developing a pivotal local industry that has the potential to contribute to global medical cannabis R&D efforts.”