Raphael Mechoulam, ‘Father in Cannabis Science’, has died at 92
Home BlogCannabisRaphael Mechoulam, ‘Father in Cannabis Science’, has died at 92
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Raphael Mechoulam, 'Father in Cannabis Science', has died at 92

Analytical Cannabis reports that Raphael Mechoulam has died. He was the first person to synthesize THC. He was 92 years of age, and his legacy will be remembered for many centuries to come. He is often referred to as the father of cannabis research. His other contributions to drug science included the discovery and synthesizing of cannabidiol, cannabigerol, and cannabichromene. Although CBD, THC, and CBG are well-known today, Dr. Mechoulam’s contributions to drug science were even more significant. So, light one for him in remembrance. His work as a medical chemistry professor at the Hebrew University of Jerusalem, Israel, laid the foundation for future breakthroughs. This included illumination into the human body’s internal cannabinoid cells in the 1980s and 1990s. As detailed in the 1993 academic paper, Molecular characterization of the peripheral receptor for cannabinoids. As you pass the peace pipe with your friends, pay your respects to Dr. Mechoulam’s fellow scientists and friends. “This is a sad day for me, the science community, and the cannabis community. Professor Raphael Mechoulam, or as we called it Raphi, was one the greatest scientists I ever met. He was also my teacher and mentor in many ways. David “Dedi”, an associate professor at Technion (Israel Institute of Technology) and one of Mechoulam’s colleagues, wrote a touching online message. “Thank you Raphi, for all the wonderful things you did and discovered in your life and for all the support and help you gave me. Rest in peace, my dear friend,” he continued. Mechoulam was born in Sofia, Bulgaria in 1930. His family moved to Israel where he studied chemistry. After careful observation of the mechanisms of other drugs, Mechoulam was inspired to hunt for THC. In a 2014 interview with CNN, Mechoulam stated that Morphine was isolated from opium in 19th century, early 19th century, and cocaine from coca leaves in the mid-nineteenth. We were in the mid-twentieth Century, yet the chemistry behind cannabis was still unknown. It seemed like an interesting project.” According the National Library of Medicine, he succeeded in 1964. You may be surprised at the story of how Mechoulam obtained the cannabis he studied. Mechoulam was a chemist at the Weizmann Institute in the 1960s. He had already set his goal to find out what makes marijuana psychoactive. Mechoulam and his team identified THC and other cannabinoids such as CBD and CBG. In 1992, Mechoulam discovered arachidonoyl ethanolamine. This chemical is also known as anandamide. It is derived from the Sanskrit term ananda which means bliss. Anandamide is a compound that our body’s endocannabinoid systems produces naturally (as if cannabis were built for us). It activates the CB1 receptor. Mechoulam was a passionate researcher who worked hard until his death. He died in California at the CannMed cannabis conference in 2019. He announced another breakthrough, synthetically stable CBDA (CBDA), which is the main phytocannabinoid found in hemp fiber and seed-oil hemp. It has anti-inflammatory and anti-convulsant properties and is likely to be just the tip. “We have taken the unstable acids molecules of the cannabis plants and synthesized them to provide a consistent, stable basis for research on new therapies across a wide variety of medical needs,” Mechoulam said at the conference. He also used his stage to encourage the scientific community in cannabis research to invest more, as too much time has been lost. He also cited the many people who would have greatly benefited from medical cannabis if it had been available. “Did we have 30 years to wait? He said, “No.” “We could have helped thousands more children, but we didn’t.” Rest in Power Dr. Mechoulam. May all those who have had access to the results of his research today enjoy the power and healing properties of plant medicine.


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