The Godfather of cannabis research

Hey folks! We’re back again with some more cannabis facts so that if you are ever on Jeopardy and a category on weed comes up, you’ll absolutely smoke the competition. This week we’re going to be talking about one of the biggest human contributors to cannabis research and advocacy, the hallowed “Godfather” of cannabis research, Raphael Mechoulam.


What did this guy do to earn that lofty title?

Nothing much, he and his team were just the first scientists to isolate and study Delta-9 Tetrahydrocannabinol, aka THC. Oh, and he also led the charge on researching the human endocannabinoid system, pioneering research into the different endocannabinoids that make up our systems and interact with cannabinoids from the cannabis plant. So basically, everything we know about cannabis today started with this guy. It all started back in the year 1964….


Once upon a time…

Mechoulam was born in Bulgaria in the fall of 1930 to Jewish parents, which meant that when the threat of antisemitism began to wave its awful flag, he and his family were suddenly in the crosshairs of some truly awful crap. His dad ended up in a concentration camp (he survived) and the family hid out in the rural Balkans area until the end of the war. When the war was over, they immigrated to Israel where Mechoulam studied chemistry, doing research on everything from insecticides to steroids. During the late 50’s and early 60’s he began doing research into terpenes and other chemical compounds that appear in various plant life. It wasn’t until around 1963 that he started to commit his energy and time towards researching cannabis, which at the time was virtually unstudied. He and his research team were able to isolate and study CBD in 1963. They followed this up by doing the same thing with THC and CBG the year after, making 1964 one of the most important years for cannabis research.


Wow, what a list of accompli-

Oh, I’m not done yet. And neither was he. During the 80’s he and another scientist by the last name of Abrahamov ran clinical trials for children who were undergoing chemotherapy to treat cancer to see if it could help alleviate some of the worst symptoms. It proved effective at helping control nausea and vomiting and has been a go to method for helping cancer patients of all ages alleviate the nausea that chemo can cause. Also, he helped coin the term “Entourage effect” (which you may have heard us here at Circa 1818 use a few times), which aims to explain that the cannabis plant works best when all of its parts are working in unison. He then spent the rest of his days advocating for further research into cannabis and its potential benefits, while also sitting on several committees to continue to advocate for more international support for cannabis research.

Mechoulam passed away just this year, in March of 2023 at 92 years of age. He lived long enough to see the stance on cannabis start to shift. Everyone who studies or consumes cannabis today owes him a debt of gratitude for his unequivocable contribution to the study of cannabis. So, next time you’re firing up a joint or hitting that vape cart, say a silent thank you to the Godfather of cannabis, Raphael Mechoulam.



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