The Outsourcing of American Marijuana Research

 In Cancer, Epilepsy, Health, International News, Medical Marijuana, PTSD

In 1964, Raphael Mechoulam rode a public bus from Tel Aviv back to his lab at Israel’s Weizmann Institute of Science in Rehovot while holding 11 pounds of Lebanese hashish in a plastic bag. He received his giant stash—the first of many over the next 50 years—from a police officer who had confiscated it from smugglers. “Advantages of living in a small country,” the chemist, now 85, says with a mischievous smirk.

That hashish turned out to be a gift to science and modern medicine. A few months later, Mechoulam used it to, for the first time in history, isolate, elucidate the structure of and fully synthesize tetrahydrocannabinol (THC), the psychoactive ingredient in cannabis. Scientists knew that marijuana got you high but had struggled for decades to figure out exactly how. Mechoulam and his colleagues were also the first to decode the exact structure of cannabidiol (CBD), the primary nonpsychoactive component of marijuana, and the first to test the medicinal properties of THC. Today, thousands of children around the world receive THC drops to cope with cancer and epilepsy.


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