The founding father of Cannabis Based Medicines - Dr. Raphael Mechoulam

Dr. Raphael Mechoulam - Discoverer of THC

Photo credit - Dr. Raphael Mechoulam: Discoverer of THC

"If some 7,000 Israelis can fill a prescription for marijuana to ease pain and enhance appetite, it's only because half a century ago, Hebrew University Prof. Raphael Mechoulam isolated and synthesized THC, the main psychoactive compound in the cannabis plant."


Anyone that is interested in the medical properties needs to know about Dr. Raphael Mechoulam and his research.  While there are many Medical Marijuana researchers out there with Ph.D.'s and Md's, perhaps only an handful can compare to this world class researcher that has dedicated his life to Cannabis research. 


Dr. Mechoulam has been researching Medicinal Marijuana as a professor at the Hebrew University Medical and Pharmaceutical Schools since 1972. 




Anyone deserving the handle, Father of Marijuana Research must have done something deserving.  So what did our Israeli doctor do anyhow?


"Research from the NIH suggests "cannabinoids may be involved in all human diseases." What is the significance of this revelation, if correct?"

 - Anthony Wile Active investor, business strategist

"Kunos and Pacher of NIH wrote that, and they may be right."

- Dr.  Raphael Mechoulam


  • Discoverer of THC, the psychoactive component of Medical Marijuana.
  • published more than 350 scientific articles
  • determined the structure chemical compounds known as cannabinoids found primarily  in the  resin glands in the bud of the female.
  • his research group determined the structure of CBD (cannabidiol), way back in 1963.
  • first synthesis the major plant cannabinoids THVΔ9-tetrahydrocannabinol, cannabidiol, cannabigerol and other cannabinoids.
  • isolation of the first described endocannabinoid anandamide
  • 2-AG was discovered by one of his PhD students.
  • 7,000 Israelis can fill a prescription for marijuana to ease pain and enhance appetite (2012) accredited to Dr Raphael's research efforts.
  •  collaborated with colleagues in Israel, the US, Canada, Spain, Germany, Brazil, New Zealand, Italy and Japan and consults for a pharmaceutical company.



Academic Record - Snapshot

  • Ph.D. at the Weizmann Institute, thesis - chemistry of steroids
  • Postdoctoral studies at the Rockefeller Institute, New York
  • Scientific staff of the Weizmann Institute
  • University of Jerusalem, Professor of Medicinal Chemistry (1983–85).
  • Member - Israel Academy of Sciences
  • Israel Prize in Exact Sciences
  • NIDA Discovery Award
  • EMET Prize in Exact Sciences - Chemistry
  • President of the International Cannabinoid Research Society (1999-2000)
  • !..... etc .....!


A World Class Researcher is Born


Dr. Mechoulam is an intellectual through and through.  He comes from a Bulgarian Jewish family that survived concentration camps and a communist regime .  The family emigrated to Israel in 1949, when Raphael found work formulating pesticides for this Israeli army.  Having studied chemistry since a young teenager, Dr. Mechoulam was educated in chemical engineering, pesticides, steroids at some of the finest institutes.  After a worldwide scientific journey, he settled back "home" naturally taking a post as Professor of Medicinal Chemistry at the University of Jerusalem.  At this time, his young chemistry master also found the love of his research life;.  the fascinating world of Cannabinoids.


Raphael was initially fascinated by the fact that the active ingredient of cocaine and opium had been isolated nearly one hundred years previous, yet no one knew what made Marijuana go, in a psychoactive sense. The curiosity as they say, got the cat, and Dr. Mechoulam would diligently research, experiment, synthesize and ponder until he had the answer.  He discovered that a molecule, named THC was responsible for Cannabis's psychoactive effects.  In the process, he and his group of doctoral students isolated CBD, and other cannabinoids. 


Whenever a medicinal chemist isolates a "new" molecule, he is sure to test its properties  Does it dissolve in water or a solvent.  Is it acetic?  What is the boiling point? Does it have insecticidal and antimicrobial properties.  Is it toxic to mammalian cells?  What are the medicinal properties of the magic herb, it's isolates and derivatives?


Gliomas/Cancer - Medical Marijuana Research Papers Worldwide


Mechoulam research efforts past and present is always focused on endogenous cannabinoids, the isolation of natural cannabinoids and synthesis of novel compounds to test for efficacy against pain, psychological disorders, inflammation, Alzheimer's, Parkinson's, high blood pressure, cancer, among other conditions.


With a rare full applause to the US Fed, Dr. Mechoulam group has even received financial support from the formerly Marijuana repressive US National Institutes of Health.


Dr. Raphael's on his work as a Medical Marijuana Researcher


Why study a single plant for 50 years, what keeps you so excited and fascinated?

" In the beginning,I saw nothing strange about working something that was chemistry oriented  one which obviously had social and medical significance. The only issue is that I had to fight US academic bureaucrats until I made the move to the more liberal Hebrew University in Jerusalem." - paraphrase

Dr. Raphael's work led to the identification of a major physiological system (the endocannabinoid system), which is intricately involved in many metabolic processes, human diseases and their symptoms.  He found that THC in Cannabis mimics naturally occurring molecules in the human brain - identified to anandamide and 2-AG. These endocannabinoids regulated receptors that controlled everything from behavior to nerve and bone growth.  Can you imagine being on the cusp of these discoveries?  knowing, without doubt that you're directly a founding father of the MMJ Revolution?

Cannabis in Israel

Permits for medical cannabis are approved by the Ministry of Health. There are about 18,000 persons who get legal cannabis to treat their diseases. They have only 8 growers who supply the material. There 10 research groups that investigate the endocannabinoid system. Possession of cannabis for recreational consumption remains  illegal. There are about 10,000  criminal cases per year involving illegal marijuana. Laws on synthetic and natural Cannabinoids is the same." -

- Summary of Dr. Mechoulam public statements.

Legal Issues Relating to Medical Marijuana Research

He experienced no legal issues and few problems.  To conduct research the Ministry of Health gave me a document allowing his group to possess hashish and certainly marijuana.  In the case of clinical investigations, it is more complicated, each hospital has to approve the protocol  or trial design, so it can be a bit difficult to organize all the chief's.

How did Dr. M get funding?

Marijuana was becoming popular in the 1960's and the US National Institute of Health (NIH) wanted to know something about it.  Although the NIH does not generally support international collaboration, in Dr. M's case, they made an exception.  Where else could the find a researcher that was world class with a dogged focus on MMJ? The NIH was reported to be the best of funders and never questioned not interfere with the process, one iota. In fact, the his research group received a prize from the National Institute of Drug Abuse (NIDA) and a Lifetime Achievement Award, presented by the Director!

From Dr. Mechoulam point of view, What Legal issues of Marijuana Research in the US?


The trend is to make research on cannabinoids and cannabis easier in the west, both Europe and the US.

Where are the Medical Cannabis Research Hotspots?

The United States, is number one, despite its reputation as author of the War on Drugs. Spain, Italy, Germany, UK, Israel and Brazil all have significant government for MMJ research.  The professor says the most advanced Commercial Cannabis Company in the world operates out of the UK. The Kessler Foundation and the Brazilian Government in collaboration with a Brazilian group presently support Dr. M's research group's efforts.  In fact, the research community is especially brotherly, researchers often collaborate internationally and often publish jointly.

Dr. Raphael's Research on CBD and THC

Dr. M has published several successful clinical trials with CBD in epilepsy, but this was back in 1980.  Sadly these very promising results have yet to be fully repeated.  Recently though CBD has become a very hot topic in Epileptic research.  They've looked at recently in graft versus host disease (GVHD); how stem cells work and how CBD effects(helps) bone growth.  THC was studied extensive on the side effects in pediatric oncology (cancer in the young) and in post-trauma disorders.   These are two disorders that medical research has somehow left off their research list of to do's.  Specific cannabinoids (CBD, for example) are very valuable compounds in treating these and other disorders.

Dr. M on Synthetic Cannabinoids (Spice)

Synthetic cannabinoids are different from the Marijuana. They can easily be toxic.
A person should be crazy to test a synthetic cannabinoid on himself.

What about Balanced Strains.

"We discovered and named the entourage effect quite a few years ago. But it has never been investigated in a clinical trial. I believe that it is of value. But so is CBD alone." - direct quote of Raphael Mechoulam:

How about Strains high in THC - up to 35%?

"They are very valuable for the growers. Much less so in the hands of recreational users."

- Dr. Raphael Mechoulam

Anthony Wile: In 1992, you, William Devane and Lumir Hanus identified the first endogenous cannabinoid in the human brain, which you named anandamide, the Sanskrit word for "supreme joy" or "bliss," and two years later another endogenous compound, 2-AG. Sixteen years later you had found, "There is almost no physiological system that has been looked into in which endocannabinoids don't play a certain part." Explain briefly the human endocannabinoid system and what this discovery means.

What conditions and symptoms can Medical Marijuana treat - According to Raphael Mechoulam and peers Kunos and Pacher of NIH

  • obesity/metabolic syndrome
  • diabetes and diabetic complications
  • neurodegenerative
  • inflammatory
  • cardiovascular
  • liver
  • gastrointestinal
  • skin
  • diseases, pain
  • psychiatric disorders
  • cachexia
  • cancer
  • chemotherapy-induced nausea and vomiting

"Modulating endocannabinoid system activity may have therapeutic potential in almost all diseases affecting humans."  -  Kunos and Pacher of NIH

MMJDOCTORONLINE Notes:  In California, medical doctors agree with Dr. Mechoulam.  They often recommend medical marijuana to treat the same conditions and symptoms listed above. MMJDOCTORONLINE specializes in online Legal Medical Marijuana Documents.  That's all we do.  Clients fill in the online application forms for an evaluation, Cannabis ID Card or grower's permit and a doctor reviews the applications the same day.  Everything is done online and clients don't pay until their conditions and symptoms have been approved by a licensed physician.

Cannabis Research Explodes


How is Medical Marijuana used in Israel Today.


Unfortunately, until recently, Western medicine has not taken Marijuana and Cannabinoid therapy seriously . However, In Israel the natural herb is approved to treat several conditions..


"Pain, gastrointestinal diseases, cancer side effects, pediatric epilepsy, now also PTSD. Only the natural material is approved." - Raphael Mechoulam:

"Mostly this research is being conducted with animals – very little on humans. There are very few clinical trials. It is promising in neuropathic pain, inflammations, anxiety, schizophrenia (with CBD) and many others (see Pacher and Kunos, above). When CBD becomes a drug the picture may change."  - Raphael Mechoulam:

Dr. Raphael Mechoulam pioneering efforts have provided pillars, the foundation for present and future Medical Marijuana research.  As more sophisticated research is undertaken, the mysteries of how cannabinoids at the cellular level will surely be continually unraveled.  With more than 400 naturally occurring cannabinoids, each with potentially unique medicinal effects - coupled with the discovery of another cellular receptor that responds to MMJ, the future of Medical Marijuana is so bright, we'll have to wear shades.


"If I have seen further than others, it is by standing upon the shoulders of giants."

 - Isaac Newton

Dr. Raphael Mechoulam is a giant.

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