Organic chemist and professor, Dr. Raphael Mechoulam, is best known as the scientific pioneer who isolated and synthesized trans-Δ9-tetrahydrocannabinol, better known as THC, the psychoactive cornerstone of cannabis.
Most of what we know about the cannabis plant’s chemical composition and the endocannabinoid system comes from Dr. Mechoulam’s research — the foundation of modern cannabis science.
He recently spoke to hundreds of medical professionals, laboratory researchers and industry experts at the Marijuana for Medical Professionals conference in Denver, Colorado, where he called on the medical community to perform clinical trials based on his life’s work.
The conference brought together some of the brightest minds in cannabis together in hopes of breaking down barriers to embracing the medicinal potential of the cannabis plant.
Martha Montemayor, founder of HCU education and the mind behind the CME accredited conference, said Dr. Mechoulam is uniquely qualified to promote the event’s mission of expanding the medical application of cannabis.
“Our goal is to start a dialogue between the scientists and the industry professionals. We want attendees to see cannabis is a legitimate compound for medical use and to gain a better understanding of the chemical structure, and how its applied in patient care,” she said. “He sees the connection from plant to medicine to reactions in the chemical body; he sees the whole picture.”
In his keynote presentation, the doctor spoke about his groundbreaking research into cannabidiol (CBD) and its effects on epilepsy patients. He said before they tried CBD, nothing was helping these patients, leaving them with “no hope.”
But the data from his study provided that hope.
In his experiment, 50 percent of the patients given CBD showed improvement, roughly 38 percent showed partial improvement, and roughly twelve percent had no improvement. In the placebo group, only about twelve percent of patients showed signs of improvement.
His double blind study was was published in 1980, but he hasn’t seen much effort to further his ideas under clinical settings.
“I suspect the research will be expanded, but there has been nothing for years,” he said, adding that when he published the original study, “no one was interested.”
But now people have taken interest — powerful people, including investors at GW Pharmaceuticals, which recently announced ongoing clinical trials for epilepsy clinical programs.
But Dr. Mechoulam stressed that there’s a substantial list of serious ailments still in need of meaningful clinical trials to explore the potential therapeutic benefit of cannabis medicine.
These are just some of those conditions in need of medical cannabis research:
“It’s a shame,” he said. “No one has looked into these effects in a modern way.”
TELL US Do you use cannabis to treat any of the conditions on Dr. Mechoulam’s list?