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‘Father of Cannabis Research’ Prof. Raphael Mechoulam Dies at 92

After escaping the Holocaust, Mechoulam immigrated to Israel where he became the first to isolate THC, the psychoactive substance in cannabis.




Professor Raphael Mechoulam of the Institute of Drug Research, Medical Faculty, Hebrew University of Jerusalem, Jerusalem, Israel is seen in 2010. PHOTO TZAHY

Israel National News is reporting that Prof. Raphael Mechoulam, known as the ‘Father of cannabis research,” has died at age 92. Mechoulam was the first researcher to isolate THC, the psychoactive substance in cannabis.

“Working on cannabis was challenging and promising from a scientific perspective. I had support from the police, who provided the hashish and from the Ministry of Health, which gave the approval,” Mechoulam related.

Mechoulam was born in Sofia, Bulgaria in 1930, to a Sephardic Jewish family. During WWII, his parents were forced to flee their hometown and his father was subsequently sent to a concentration camp, which he survived.  In 1949 his family immigrated to Israel where Mechoulam later studied chemistry.  After postdoctoral studies at the Rockefeller Institute, New York, he was on the scientific staff of the Weizmann Institute, before moving to the Hebrew University of Jerusalem, where he became a professor and in 1975 the Lionel Jacobson Professor of Medicinal Chemistry.

Mechoulam was one of the founding members of the International Association for Cannabinoid Medicines and the International Cannabinoid Research Society.

“The endocannabinoid system has recently been revealed to us. Its involvement in a variety of biological processes is very broad, but the role of most of the substances that compose it has not yet been studied,” Mechoulam said in an article published in the journal Annual Reviews, titled “A Delightful Trip Along the Pathway of Cannabinoid and Endocannabinoid Chemistry and Pharmacology,” adding, “I want to emphasize that in the field of the endocannabinoid system, as in other fields, a collaboration between scientists is a wonderful and useful thing for discovering new biological properties.”






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