Ep. 370: Rafi Gamson, IQC

October 13, 2018

Rafi Gamson joins us and highlights the immense competition that’s growing in the Cannabis Production Market: “The investment is so big, I don’t believe so many farms will actually enter the market because it’s an open market. It’s not regulated. The market will regulate itself. The good ones will survive. The bad ones will actually naturally leave the business. After investing so much money, it would be stupid to enter if you are not the best. “


Raffi Gamson: My name is Raffi Gamson.

Seth: Yeah.

Raffi Gamson: I manage the Agriculture Department at IQC, which is the Institute of Quality and Control of Israel. It's the largest private certification body in Israel.

Seth: Here we are. And thank you for having me to your offices.

Raffi Gamson: You're welcome.

Seth: You regulate, if you will, many things, right?

Raffi Gamson: We certify ... I do prefer that term.

Seth: There we go. Because that's what it is. That's the appropriate term.

Raffi Gamson: Okay.

Seth: Yuval regulates. [crosstalk 00:01:25]

Raffi Gamson: Exactly. We audit and inspect and if the auditee, if the producer complies with the requirements he gets a certificate based on procedures of certification.

Seth: Mm-hmm (affirmative). Okay. And you do this for cannabis and you do this many other industries as well.

Raffi Gamson: For tomatoes, for peppers, for citrus, for herbs. Any food that's produced on land.

Seth: For instance, what's happening right next door, in this wall, right on the other side of this wall.

Raffi Gamson: On the other side of the wall is the department that handles processed food.

Seth: Uh-huh

Raffi Gamson: We do pre-farm gate. They do post-farm gate.

Seth: Yeah. So within the same organization.

Raffi Gamson: Of course.

Seth: What are they going through right now as we speak?

Raffi Gamson: Right now we're in the process of being assessed by the Dutch accreditation authority. Assessing our actions and our procedures and our way of doing the certification activities just to make sure that what we're doing is right and proper and we get the authority to actually deliver certificates from this assessment and from this accreditation.

Seth: There we go. So that's happening for food from the Dutch government. You've got a certification on the wall, which is signed by my friend Yuval Lancheft for cannabis.

Raffi Gamson: We have a certificate from the Dutch government as well.

Seth: Of course.

Raffi Gamson: For ISO 17065, which is product certification regulations. Based on this Dutch accreditation we got a license from Yuval Lancheft from the Ministry of Health of Israel to actually audit and certify IMC gap, which is the Israeli medical cannabis good agricultural practice standard.

Seth: Now how long has that been going on?

Raffi Gamson: The standard was actually published a year and a half ago.

Seth: Right. After quite a bit of work.

Raffi Gamson: After a big work and made a big difference in the market. The first certificate was actually issued two weeks ago to one of our clients, was the first cannabis farm actually certified for the new IMC gap.

Seth: Mm-hmm (affirmative). As far as the Israeli government is concerned, boom. Two weeks ago, we got our first person in. Okay.

Raffi Gamson: Exactly. Within these two weeks, three farms have actually reached the deadline of getting a certificate after spending a lot, a lot of money in actually upgrading the farm facilities and farm practices to the new standard.

Seth: Let's dive in, go all the way back to the beginning of this process.

Raffi Gamson: Okay.

Seth: Right, so we have established that you already are accredited by the Dutch government and Yuval, did Yuval call you or did you call Yuval?

Raffi Gamson: I'll give you just a brief short history.

Seth: Right.

Raffi Gamson: About six years ago Mr. [Omal Zidan 00:04:25], which is the Deputy Manager of the Extension Service of the Ministry of Agriculture, contacted me as an expert in good agricultural practices and asked for help in bringing the eight farms, which were licensed in Israel to a certain level of standard. To bring them to the same level or as much as possible.

Seth: Mm-hmm (affirmative).

Raffi Gamson: We actually found the checklists on the web from the ... it's a Dutch checklist for good agricultural practices for cannabis and we translated it into Hebrew and actually upgraded it to the local practices. Six out of the eight farms actually volunteered to be assessed. This took place for around I would say two years or three years and brought some order into the mess because every farm did whatever they want and it was actually a big ... it was a very big difference between the eight farms.

Seth: Mm-hmm (affirmative).

Raffi Gamson: And this brought them to a very, very basic level of standard, but it's still very basic.

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