Dr Raphael Mechoulam, a Bulgarian-born but Israeli citizen, is a doctor who is famous worldwide for his cannabis discoveries and enhancement. Unfortunately, Dr Mechoulam passed away recently, on the 09th of March 2023, but his life and legacy will continue to be celebrated and praised worldwide.
So how did Dr Mechoulam become dubbed as the Grandfather of Cannabis? It all started in the early 1960s in Tel Aviv, where Dr Mecholuam was advised to try to get some cannabis from local police for his scientific research. Thankfully, after a friendly visit to a police station in Tel Aviv, he boarded a bus back to the Weizmann Institute of Science in Rehovot to begin his research.
Dr Mechoulam is best known for his incredible discovery of isolating the THC compound in cannabis, essentially identifying the psychoactive substance of the cannabis plant.
In doing so, this opened up mountains of further research into the numerous other cannabinoids in cannabis and their individual uses and properties.
Despite the intense restrictions around cannabis at the time, Dr Mechoulam obtained a permit from the Israeli Ministry of Health after being previously accused of breaking the law.
Clearly, the Israeli ministry of health has an avid interest in his research and discoveries, as he was quoted explaining that “I always went to the Ministry of Health, they gave me a letter to the police, went to the police and drank some coffee with them, took the hashish I needed and that was it.”
Isolating and establishing the THC compound in cannabis is not where Dr Meloucham’s research ended, with his revelations around cannabis leading to the study and discovery of numerous cannabinoids and the essential endocannabinoid system and endocannabinoid receptors - essentially altering the entire way we view cannabis as a whole.
Despite much of this research being done in the 1960s-1990s, Dr Meloucham’s discoveries paved the way for how cannabis is perceived in modern society worldwide.
The discovery of the THC compound and, essentially, the way it can be isolated alone has made the progression of cannabis worldwide escalate, with many people being able to use cannabinoids, such as CBD, without the fear of getting high.
CBD and THC were two compounds that scientists have been aware of and familiar with since the 1940s, but no one truly understands how they work or why THC produces the head high it does - but Dr Meloucham changed that.
He was the first scientist to map out the exact molecular structure of THC and give us an understanding of how and why it interacts in our brains the way it does.
Asher Cohen, president of the Hebrew University, gave a statement following Dr Mechoulam’s death, stating that Most of the human and scientific knowledge about cannabis was accumulated thanks to Prof.
Mechoulam; he paved the way for groundbreaking studies and initiated scientific cooperation between researchers around the world,’ and we couldn’t agree more.
Without Dr Mechoulam’s critical and groundbreaking studies, humans may still be struggling to understand the true potential of cannabis!
Perhaps one of the most significant and beneficial pieces of evidence of Dr Mechoulam’s work is surrounding the CBD compound. By isolating THC and showing its separation from other cannabinoids, Dr Mechoulam allowed CBD to burst into the limelight and become a mainstream cannabinoid legally sold in most of the world.
One of the critical parts of his research was surrounding the endocannabinoid system and the endocannabinoid receptors, which opened pathways for people to become more open to learning and experiencing the benefits of using cannabinoids.
In the 1990s, Dr Mechoulam led a team of researchers to discover how our bodies produce their own cannabinoids and how they react with our endocannabinoid receptors. Additionally, this research also focused on what those receptors are responsible for, citing - the ability to regulate appetite, manage pain and immune system function, which is scientifically evident.
This research played a considerable knock-on effect on further research on the endocannabinoid system and cannabinoids, with CBD taking the forefront as one of the most researched and potentially beneficial cannabinoids on the market.
In 2015 Dr Mechoulam’s documentary, ‘The Scientist: Are We Missing Something,’ gave an excellent insight into not only his life as a child during the holocaust in Bulgaria but also his outstanding research and activism towards cannabis research.
Dr Mechoulam’s name as the Godfather of Cannabis is undoubtedly deserved, and his discoveries will continue to change the face of cannabis. His life will be celebrated and commemorated by doctors, scientists, the cannabis industry and people worldwide as one of the leaders of the cannabis industry.