Israel is the marijuana research capital of the world. The man who started it all, the grandfather of the marijuana research, is Professor Raphael Mechoulam. He is a chemist and he became interested in marijuana in the 1960s. Morphine had been isolated from opium in the early 19th century, cocaine had been isolated from coca leaves in the mid 19th century and yet in the mid 20th century, the chemistry of the cannabis was not known.
It looked like an interesting project but not an easy one because in Israel, like almost everywhere else, marijuana was illegal. So how did Professor Raphael Mechoulam get the marijuana for his work? He went to the police and took five kilos of hashish. He didn’t have a car at that time so he used public transport for carrying the hashish, while people were complaining of the strange smell. They tested the “merchandise” on few volunteers including themselves.
It might seem like a simple experiment but the results were revolutionary. They were the first to isolate THC and CBD decades ago – two ingredients in marijuana that might have powerful abilities to treat disease. In Israel today marijuana is an accepted part of medical care – for pain, for cancer patients, for sleep problems, epilepsy, and digestive problems. They’re even looking at Parkinson’s and Tourette’s. The list is expanding but there hasn’t been too much research in patients because it’s very difficult to do that… especially in the United States which classifies marijuana as a dangerous Schedule 1 drug.
In the US researchers have to jump through extra hoops to work with it. It’s expensive and time-consuming but the grandfather of this science says he is proof it can be done. Over the last forty years, his work has been supported by the National Institute of Health. And now the country’s ministry of health licensed 10,000 patients to use marijuana medicinally and has approved more than a dozen studies to treat illnesses like PTSD, pain, Crohn’s disease, and even cancer.