There are dozens of emerging researchers in the cannabis field, specifically those focusing on CBD research. One of these researchers is Raphael Mechoulam, who has frequently been given the title “the father of medical cannabis research.” This title is because Mechoulam hasn’t just been researching over the last few years, he was one of the first scientists to study cannabis in depth. In addition, Mechoulam was the scientist who initially isolated tetrahydrocannabinol, otherwise known as THC. THC is one of the primary cannabinoids that make up marijuana and is the chemical known to cause the “high” that marijuana produces.
Raphael Mechoulam was born in 1930 in Bulgaria but later immigrated to Israel, where he lived for most of his young life and where he received his Ph.D. He then did his postdoctoral studies at the Rockefeller Institute in the USA, focusing his work on the isolation of structures and compounds in cannabis. He began his formal research in the 1960s, and since then has been nominated for more than 25 different academic achievement awards.
Through discovering THC, Mechoulam virtually began the medical conversation surrounding cannabis use and justified the use of marijuana for patients with various conditions across the world. Mechoulam came to his hypothesis by analyzing the use of cannabis as a therapeutic agent in ancient societies, including Queen Victoria in England. He plans to structure cannabis research into three different sectors: phytocannabinoid research, endocannabinoid research, and research on other cannabinoids that make up cannabis.
Mechoulam places a lot of value on researching our brain’s endocannabinoid system, which processes both the cannabinoids we naturally produce as well as the ones we use recreationally or medically. He believes that while we’re currently obsessed with researching cannabidiol (CBD) and THC, in a few years, we’ll have a more comprehensive understanding of other cannabinoids and how they work in our brains.
Raphael Mechoulam was also popularized for his discovery and observation of the “entourage effect,” which is the idea that the compounds in cannabis have a synergistic effect that helps THC and CBD to work more efficiently in the body. He believes that this “entourage effect” is one of the significant reasons why cannabis should be universally legalized. Many people prefer to use natural cannabis as opposed to extracted THC or CBD because the compounds work together to provide their therapeutic effect. However, there are other compounds in cannabis such as Cannabichromene, which have been shown to have these same effects at different dosages. This is why Mechoulam feels that research into the entourage effect and lesser-known cannabinoids are so important, as they could have therapeutic properties that we have not yet tapped into.
In late September of 2019, Mechoulam headlined the Cannmed 2019 conference, which held more than 50 live presentations by experts in the holistic medicine field. During his talk, Mechoulam outlined his discovery concerning cannabis science: stable cannabinoid acid molecules. The purpose of these acids is to study the effects of individual cannabinoids at higher doses in their isolated forms. Through isolating and stabilizing these cannabinoids, Mechoulam hopes to prove to the mainstream medical industry that these compounds are worth studying and possibly using in new pharmaceuticals.