Back in 2013, while many Americans were learning about the healing applications of CBD through a mainstream TV special hosted by CNN’s Chief Medical Correspondent Sanjay Gupta, Dr. Raphael Mechoulam remained in the lab, eternally devoted into his groundbreaking work in cannabinoid science. Dr. Mechoulam discovered and isolated CBD as a young Israeli researcher in 1963 and went on to discover THC in 1964. Today, he continues to discover exactly how cannabinoids interact with the make-up of all mammals in a full-body structure known as the endocannabinoid system. We caught up with the iconic researcher to check in on new developments.
Cannabis Now: Israel is launching a clinical trial to assess the effects of CBD on children and adults suffering from autism. Are you participating in this study?
Dr. Mechoulam: Yes, a clinical group at the Shaare Zedek Medical Center in Jerusalem is planning a clinical trial with cannabidiol in autistic children. There are individual reports that cannabidiol (CBD) indeed helps but good clinical data is not available. I am marginally involved.
The DEA has announced it does not plan to reschedule cannabis. Do you think the U.S. should reschedule or deschedule marijuana? What are your thoughts on the decision to open additional federally-licensed cannabis farms in the U.S.?
I am not an expert in the U.S. legal system. I believe that researchers should have access to a variety of cannabis mixtures as well as pure constituents to work with.
The CBD marketplace has hit a fever pitch. Do you have any thoughts or comments on medical treatment with CBD that has derived from industrial hemp rather than from cannabis? How do you source the CBD for your own work?
CBD is the same whether it is extracted from hemp or cannabis or synthesized. It’s the purity that counts. In my own work I check the purity of the material I extract. There are numerous ways to check the purity — various chromatographic techniques; optical rotation; nuclear magnetic resonance etc.
What are your current projects? Are there any other insights you would like to share with our readers?
We (together with a group in Sao Paulo) have just published a paper on a group of fluor [fluorinated cannabidiol derivatives] containing CBD-type compounds which are more potent than CBD in animal models of anxiety, depression and schizophrenia. We (together with Dr. Tam in our school) are working on new anti-osteoporotic endocannabinoid-like compounds.
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