Birthright to Birth Roots

Exclusive Healing on Medicinal Cannabis and Research in Galien, Michigan




Israel. 2012. Adam Kaufman and Dan Milsk happened to be on the same birthright trip, funded by the Jewish Federation. They were two Jews from the Midwest seeking cultural identity who also shared an interest in medicinal cannabis.
The trip provided the opportunity to study Israeli culture through agricultural and culinary traditions. “[…] The point of the birthright trip is to connect American Jews and have them begin something together, back in the States,” Milsk said during an interview with Kaufman in November of this year, “It’s rooted in that Israeli experience.”
Israel is also the global leader in medical cannabis research. Raphael Mechoulam, renowned scientist and professor at the Hebrew University of Jerusalem, School of Pharmacy – Institute for Drug Research, started conducting medical cannabis research in the early 1960s when he isolated and synthesized tetrahydrocannabinol (THC, the psychoactive compound in cannabis). He and his team also identified the connection between THC and the endogenous endocannabinoid system in humans, or as Yardena Schwartz of “Rolling Stone” put it, the reason humans can get high.
Schwartz’s article from August 2017, “How Booming Israeli Weed Industry is Changing American Pot,” discusses how even the National Institutes of Health (NIH) has funded cannabis research in Israel, providing Mechoulam’s groundbreaking research with grants to the tune of $100,000 a year for over four decades.
Inspired in Israel, the seeds were planted for Exclusive Healing, a medicinal cannabis cultivation and research company based in Michigan. Kaufman had started a small hydroponic operation in 2009 under Michigan’s 2008 Medical Marijuana Act, and Milsk would join the operation to help grow the business.
In Israel, Kaufman and Milsk saw firsthand advanced cultivation and water conservation techniques. “In a land with no water, Israel figured out a way to grow some of the best, and most diverse agricultural products in the world,” said Milsk.
Adopting those methods, Exclusive Healing uses as little water as they can, Kaufman said of their operation in Galien, Michigan. “We use an evaporation table to chart what we use. We want to find out best results and the most efficient way to do it,” he said. Drip systems, hydroponics, or hand watering.

“Every plant, every strain has its own water needs,” Milsk explained, “We don’t want to overwater a single plant.”
To test their 130+ strains, they grow the same strain in different mediums — one in hydro, one in soil, one on a drip system, etc. — to see how those strains behave. Then, they determine what is the most efficient practice per strain. “We reuse our soil, too,” added Kaufman, “We work with a team to revitalize the soil and recycle it back in.” Exclusive Healing is a cultivation and processing center, not a dispensary. All cultivating operations happen indoors and without pesticides.
Israel is leading the way in clinical trials and genetic variation, to pinpoint the causes and effects of individual strains on patients’ needs. For example, Mechoulam’s current research projects at Hebrew University cover the chemistry of endogenous cannabinoids, and the synthesis of compounds to be tested as drugs against pain, inflammation, high blood pressure, and cancer.
Exclusive Healing’s mission is to cultivate a wide variety of strains and to conduct clinical research at Michigan-based universities. Their seed collection comes from several different seed companies around the world, including: the Emerald Triangle in Northern California; Nine Mile, Bob Marley’s neighborhood in Jamaica; Amsterdam; and the Middle East. “We go to Amsterdam annually where we source CBD strains,” said Kaufman.
Kaufman started cultivating cannabis when his patients — who were family, friends, and community members — were disappointed or even ill from the side effects of prescribed pharmaceuticals. Since 2008, Michigan operated under a strictly caregiver-to-patient medical marijuana program, and dispensaries were still outlawed. While battling cancer, Kaufman’s father developed a problem with eating. “He doesn’t want to get high, just needs something to settle his stomach and not feel full all the time,” said Kaufman, which is one of the reasons Exclusive Healing focuses on strains high in cannabidiol (CBD), one of many non-psychoactive compounds found in cannabis.
Milsk teamed up with Kaufman because he understood the relief cannabis can bring, and was sick of seeing family members seeking end-of-life relief forced to turn to either debilitating prescription drugs or to the black market for cannabis.
“By entering the legal cannabis market, my mission is to provide clean, safe, and accessible medicine to patients in need. Especially at the end of life, people have much to say about their past and hopes for the future,” explained Milsk during our interview. Cannabis can help with pain management with little-to-no side effects.
Exclusive Healing chose the small Michigan town of Galien (pronounced Guh-LEEN) to set up cultivation and processing operations. According to the 2010 U.S. Census, Galien has approximately 600 residents. After the Great Recession, the town was without a grocery store, bank, school or other community businesses. Seeing the town with a vacant school prompted Exclusive Healing to create business within township borders to bring employment and tax revenue for Galien residents.
“We realized there was an opportunity here to help people,” said Milsk.
“We moved there specifically because it was a depressed town. We wanted to help revitalize it,” Kaufman explained. One of their methods: blessing boxes in the downtown area. “Give something, take something, whatever you need,” he said.
“On my first visit to Dan and Adam’s medical cannabis farm,” said attorney Jeffery Hank, from Hank Law, PLLC, “I witnessed their kibbutz style operation and work ethic. Once they explained to me the mystical origins of their cannabis enterprise in Israel and their vision for the future, I knew they’d be a good fit in Michigan’s legendary cannabis culture.” The original idea of kibbutz was an agricultural community in which each member contributes what they can and receives in return according to what is needed, as described by Israel’s Ministry of Agriculture.
Under Michigan’s law, more than 25 percent of gross sales from cannabis will go directly into local communities in which cannabis businesses operate. “This new revenue stream will go to help rebuild its roads, encourage more community development, and hopefully reopen the school [in Galien],” Milsk shared.
From the Holy Land to the Midwest, two people, who met due to random placing of a birthright bus assignment, started a cannabis research operation in Galien.
“We’re not interested in getting people high,” Milsk stated, “We want the non-psychoactive, more medicinally targeted cannabinoids within our portfolio.” Exclusive Healing brands AK flowers and 24K Gold concentrates will soon be available in newly licensed Michigan dispensaries.
To learn more, visit, Instagram @exclusive_healing

Emerald contributor since September 2016


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