The incredible story of marijuana research in Israel began with Professor Raphael Mechoulam, the grandfather of medical cannabis research. In the 1960s, while morphine had been isolated from opium and cocaine had been isolated from coca leaves more than a century before, the chemistry of cannabis remained unknown. Without access to legal marijuana, Mechoulam sought help from the police and obtained five kilograms of hashish for his research. With the help of volunteers, including himself, he was able to isolate the active ingredients THC and CBD – two compounds that have since been found to have powerful medicinal properties.
Today, medical marijuana is an accepted part of healthcare in Israel and is used to treat various conditions such as chronic pain, cancer, sleep problems, epilepsy and digestive issues. Numerous studies are being conducted on how cannabis can be used to treat serious illnesses like Parkinson’s disease and Tourette syndrome.
In comparison to Israel’s progressive laws on medical marijuana, it is much tougher for researchers in the United States to study the healing properties of cannabis. The US Drug Enforcement Administration classifies marijuana as a Schedule 1 drug due to its potential for abuse despite its medicinal value; this designation requires researchers in America to go through extra steps before conducting any studies involving cannabis. However, this hasn’t stopped Professor Mechoulam from continuing his work over the past four decades with support from the National Institute of Health – successfully enabling 10,000 patients access medical use of marijuana nationwide.
It has taken a lifetime for Professor Raphael Mechoulam’s pioneering work on medical cannabis to be recognized globally – but there is still much more we can learn about this controversial plant’s therapeutic potential. To get a better understanding of this fascinating topic and all its complexities we highly recommend watching “The Scientist: Dr Raphael Mechoulam & The Secrets Of Cannabis” – a documentary that delves into his story and contributions towards unlocking some of marijuana’s secrets.