08/03/16 THE ISRAELI MAN WHO DISMANTLED MARIJUANA TO PIECES By OFER SPOTTHEIM
Amazingly enough, until the 1960s no one knew what was the active ingredient of cannabis. We spoke with Prof. Raphael Mechoulam, the man who filled in the blanks, about the upcoming stages in the research of this miraculous plant and Israel’s role in the field
In the early 1960s, Prof. Raphael Mechoulam was a young member of the academic staff of the Weizmann Institute. Back then he had just returned from the States after completing his PHD and was looking for an interesting research subject. In his quest Mechoulam was amazed to discover that although morphine was isolated from the opium and cocaine from the coca already back in the 19th century, and despite of the vast (illegal) use of marijuana and hashish around the world, the active substance in the cannabis has not yet to be discovered. “It’s impossible to engage in scientific activity – exploring aspects of pharmacological, biochemical and clinical trials of a plant – as long as the active ingredient is not identified” he says.