Photo Credits: Marijuana.com
Raphael Mechoulam before 1949
Raphael Mechoulam was born on the 5th of November 1930 in Sofia, Bulgaria.
His mother had studied in Berlin but she enjoyed looking out for the family more, while his father was his inspiration, some might think. The father was a physician and the head of a local hospital.
Professor Mechoulam attended an “American Grade School” until his family was forced to leave their hometown because of the anti-semitic laws. In 1944 he started studying chemical engineering. But soon he came to the conclusion that it isn’t for him.
As his family immigrated in Israel in 1949, he started studying chemistry, which seemed more suitable for him. Thus this it led to the gaining of his first research experience in the Israeli Army on insecticides.
The Professor got his MSc. in biochemistry from the Hebrew University of Jerusalem (1952), and his Ph.D. at the Weizmann Institute, Reḥovot (1958), writing a thesis on the chemistry of steroids. After postdoctoral studies at the Rockefeller Institute, New York (1959–60), he became a part of the scientific staff of the Weizmann Institute (1960–65), before moving to the Hebrew University of Jerusalem, where he started his teaching career (1972). He was rector (1979–82) and pro-rector (1983–85). In 1994 he was selected as a member of the Israel Academy of Sciences.
Becoming the Father of THC
Professor Mechoulam is better known for the total synthesis of tetrahydrocannabinol, for his major contribution to the chemistry of cannabinoids and for the discovery of endocannabinoids.
In 1963 his research group determined the structure of CBD (cannabidiol) and by 1964 had stranded and synthesized THC (tetrahydrocannabinol), the main psychoactive compound of cannabis. Mesmerized by his realization on the fact that the active component of cannabis remained unknown while the active ingredients of opium and cocaine had been stranded a century before, Raphael Mechoulam’s investigation projects continue to code the chemistry of endogenous cannabinoids and synthesis of novel compounds to be tested as drugs against high blood pressure, inflammation, pain and cancer, with a grant from the US National Institutes of Health. He has cooperated with associates in Israel, the US, Canada, Spain, Germany, Brazil, New Zealand, Italy and Japan and consults for a pharmaceutical company.
The father of THC showed us what health benefits the cannabis plant is bringing, and he is still doing it at 85 years old.
If you don’t already know it, he was the Chairman at the CannaTech conference this year, you should listen what he had to say or you could watch “The Scientist”, a documentary about his life and work.