Studying marijuana and its loftier purpose

Israelis have been at the vanguard of research into the medicinal properties of cannabis for decades, reports The New York Times. Prof. Raphael Mechoulam of the Hebrew University’s Faculty of Medicine established the field by isolating and synthesizing THC, the main psychoactive compound in the cannabis plant. His breakthrough research, which started in the 1960s and lead to his deciphering of the cannabinoids native to the brain, paved the way for the use of medical marijuana as a pain reliever and appetite enhancer for patients worldwide.

His colleague Prof. Ruth Gallily, of the Hebrew University’s Lautenberg Center for Immunology and Cancer Research, has studied another main constituent of cannabis — cannabidiol or CBD, which is considered a powerful anti-inflammatory and anti-anxiety agent. Her research, along with others in Israel, has shown that natural ingredients in the marijuana plant are beneficial to digestive function, infections and recovery after a heart attack.

Marijuana strains with high concentrations of CBD or THC are being grown in Israel by the Tikkun Olam medical marijuana farm in Safed. The farm is also working with Hebrew University researches to develop a version of medical marijuana in capsule form.

In an interview with the The New York Times, Prof. Mechoulam said that research in the field is “definitely a work in progress.” The real advances, he said, are being made not on farms but in laboratories around the world, including in the United States and Europe. He said that chances were that in the next few years well-defined mixtures of the compounds, refined into something more like a medical drug, would replace today’s medicinal marijuana.

To read the entire article in the New York Times, click here.

For further press coverage of cannaboid research, click here.