After starting at Harborside in 2013, I was introduced to the work of Dr. Raphael Mechoulam, the Godfather of Cannabis Research — he isolated THC in 1964! If you don’t know this legend and his work, read/share his self-authored look back in the Annual Review of Pharmacology and Toxicology describing the life journey of the Bulgarian Holocaust survivor. Also, please watch/share Zach Klein’s incredible documentary, The Scientist.
It’s an incredible doc about how Mechoulam got started, and then continued to research cannabis for more than 60 years Among his early stories of getting five kilos of hashish from the police to research THC, and the strange looks he got on the city bus taking him back to the lab. His first research into the effects of THC happened in his home. He dosed five pieces of his wife’s cake with 10mg pure THC, and observed friends who took it, as compared to the five of them whose pieces were not dosed.
In 2017, with sweat beading on my brow, I sent Raphael Mechoulam a LinkedIn request to connect. I was shocked when he accepted the request within a few hours. We began a cursory conversation. I reached out to him to ask specific questions; he usually answered within a couple of days. His responses were short and business-like. After a heated debate with co-workers at Harborside on how many cannabinoids had been discovered in the plant…(with several saying 120), I clapped back shortly thereafter that “Mechoulam told me ‘more than 100, most in minute amounts.'” Eyebrows raised.
At the start of the pandemic, I reached out, with fingers crossed, to ask Dr. Mechoulam if he thought there was any potential for cannabis to fight Covid19.
- Raphael Mechoulam 10:31 PM Hello, We are trying to convince clinicians to look at CBD for the second (lung inflammation) phase of the CORONA infection. Best R. Mechoulam
- APR 6, 2020 Jaene Leonard sent the following message at 8:48 AM Jaene Leonard (She/Her) 8:48 AM How’s it going? Are they receptive?
- Raphael Mechoulam sent the following message at 9:44 AM Raphael Mechoulam 9:44 AM Not yet
- Jaene Leonard sent the following messages at 3:26 PM Jaene Leonard (She/Her) 3:26 PM Well, thank you for advocating.
He went on to say he was working with two other teams — in Israel and Brazil.
Shortly thereafter, GW Pharmaceutical’s Epidiolex was descheduled in the U.S. I’m guessing with the hope that it could possibly be used for the cytokine storm characterizing second phase of that first devastating strain of the coronavirus.
In 2020, Mechoulam received The Harvey Prize, considered by many to be a predictor of the Nobel Prize. [I recently found a petition to have Dr. Mechoulam considered for the Nobel Prize. Please add your name and share this! (You can choose to have your name withheld from the public!)]
Dr. Mechoulam continued to work with cannabis compounds. Here are links to an article about his latest discovery of and research on cannabidiolic acid methyl ester (EPM301), and further information on his projects from the Canadian Friends of the Hebrew University of Jerusalem. I’m certain we’ll continue to see more come of his cutting-edge research in the future.
Side Note: I went back to school in 2019 to get my degree in screenwriting. I was inspired to write about cannabis from different perspectives, and in 2020 finished a fish-out-of-water pilot. A non-using cannabis researcher let go from Mechoulam’s lab team lands an educator job in a busy California dispensary. May this piece have legs.
So much of my work this past decade would not have happened without your work coming before. Thank you for being the trailblazer, sir. I bow in honor to you. May you fly free, Raphael Mechoulam. Thank you for all the blessings.