Raphael Mechoulam: Pioneer Cannabis Researcher

As far back as the 1800s,scientistsrealized that there arevaluable effects incannabis. Extensive research in the United States and England on cannabis in the 1930s came to a halt with the beginning of World War II and did not pick up again afterwards due to the various laws and regulations that classified the plant as a drug.Legal issuescontinued to inhibit serious study until half a century ago, when Prof. Raphael Mechoulam (b. 1930) of the Hebrew University of Jerusalem isolated and synthesized the main psychoactive compound in cannabis: THC.

Back then, accessing cannabis for research purposes was not necessarily simple. Prof. Mechoulam contacted a friend who worked for the police, who provided him with seized hashish (which also originates from marijuana) for Mechoulam’s medical research.

In the early 60s, Mechoulam and his research partners had full knowledge of the structure of CBD(cannabidiol), an important cannabis ingredient. In the next few years they managed to isolate THC, establish its structure and synthesize it.Further years of collaborative research demonstrated that THC is the main ingredient which triggers specific receptors in the brain in the similar way to chemicals in the human body. Together with the cell’s receptors, these compounds work to protect against many conditions as well as syndromes.

The important discoveries made by Prof. Mechoulam and his team not only changed Prof. Mechoulam’s life path, but also the lives of millions of patients around the world – the ability to isolate the active substance in cannabis formed the foundation for an entire industry basedsolely on a single plant and the variations within its’ strains. Thecannabis plant is now being studied at an unprecedented pace.

The long list of medical conditions which medical cannabis helps to alleviate is all thanks to the revolutionary discoveries made by Prof. Mechoulam and his team in the early 60s. Based on such revelations, programs such as the one established byIsraeli Ministry of Health are able to provide eligible patients with the necessary permits to legally purchase medical cannabis.

Signs of Prof. Mechoulam’s sensational discovery are evident to this day – Israel is seen as a major player in the field of medical cannabis and has been at the forefront of the study of the plant’s virtues. More clinical trials in cannabis are currently being conducted in this tiny countrythan in any other country across the globe. The conclusions of these studies have benefited the lives of countless patients around the world – from oncology patients, through children with autism, epilepsy, post-traumatic patients, to elderly people with Parkinson’s.

Now in his 80s and still very much active I his field of research, Prof. Mechoulam will give a keynote lecture on his current findings and outlook on the cannabinoid system and where we stand todayon September 9during CannX Tel Aviv, an annual conference series focusing to the most relevant developments, innovations and opportunities in this medical field. To learn more about CannX, click here.



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