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Although cannabis was a medicinal plant for thousands of years, its medical use was suppressed and banned throughout most of the 20th century. While banned here in the US, major scientific breakthroughs were made in Israel, Spain, Italy and Brazil. These science breakthroughs have made cannabis the wonder drug of the 21st century.
The Father of Medical Cannabis Research
The greatest cannabis researcher is unquestionably Raphael Mechoulam from Isreal. He discovered THC in 1964, the psycho-active component of cannabis. Mechoulam also discovered the first endogenous endo-cannabinoid in 1992, Anandamide, meaning bliss
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(see image right).
Above Left Image: Raphael Mechoulam
A Treasure Trove Waiting for Discovery
When asked why he devoted his entire lifetime studying the biochemistry of cannabis, Dr. Raphael Mechoulam said the following (external - login to view)
: "The three major illicit drugs derived from plants were then (at the beginning of my career), and still are, opium, coca and cannabis
. Morphine had been isolated from opium early in the 19th century and structure elucidated in the 1920s by Robert Robinson. Cocaine was isolated from coca leaves in the middle of the 19th century and structure described by Richard Willstatter in the last decade of the 19th century. I believe that the cannabinoids represent a medicinal treasure trove which waits to be discovered."
Just Like the Opiate Receptor Story
In a story very similar to the discovery of opiate receptors in the brain, cannabinoid receptors have been discovered along with their endogenous cannabinoids, representing the largest neurotransmitter system in the brain and immune system. This neurotransmitter system went undetected for decades because it involves an unheard of concept, retrograde transmission, or reversed flow of information from the post synapse to the pre-synapse.