Marijuana is one of the most intriguing plants known to man and has been around for thousands of years. However, before 1964 no one knew how or why it gets people high. That particular year was the turning point because it was at that time that the curious Israeli chemist Raphael Mechoulam, who is also known as “the father of medical marijuana,” isolated tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) and embarked on a journey full of groundbreaking studies on how exactly marijuana affects brains of its users. Besides THC, there was also this other compound that attracted his interest, the one he discovered a year earlier. Unlike THC, this one did not get people high, but instead a different kind of effects have been noted about it, such as improving sleep in people with insomnia or controlling seizures in laboratory animals. This other compound was, of course, cannabidiol (aka CBD).
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The Father of Cannabis
Mechoulam continued his research and in 1980 published what he found out. A small clinical trial showed that CBD reduced seizures in seven out of the eight epileptic patients tested. This was a placebo-controlled study, which is a standard procedure when researching medical usefulness of any substance. The placebo group from Mechoulam’s study was significantly outperformed by the CBD group, meaning it’s safe to assume the existence of described effects of CBD. Mechoulam, happy with the results, went on to ask for more funding in order to be able to conduct a larger study to test his findings. Even though one would normally assume that drug companies would start flocking around Mechoulam, nothing happened at that time – no one wanted to have anything to do with an illegal drug.
Times Have Changed
Today, the situation is different. In US, more and more states are legalizing both medical and recreational marijuana. However, because the Federal Government still classified it as a Schedule I drug (equally dangerous as heroin, mind you!), scientists can’t just randomly start studying it. If they do want to work with it, the researchers need all kinds of approvals from several federal agencies, including the Drug Enforcement Administration. So far, numerous studies have reported on CBD’s potential benefits for treating an array of diseases and conditions and it might even have antibiotic properties! The problem is that all the studies were petri dish studies or on animals, and those results are difficult to apply on humans. Luckily, a few of large placebo-controlled studies concerning CBD-only products are currently in the works. A couple of pharmaceutical companies are running trials of drugs intended to treat either epilepsy in children and of synthetic CBD. If approved, those drugs will soon become available by prescription.
Surprisingly, or not, Israel has taken the leading place in medical marijuana research and development. It is considered to be one of the most forward-thinking countries when medical marijuana is concerned. Scientists from all over the world are flocking there, eager to learn more about this fabulous plant by conducting CBD and THC Clinical Trials. Interesting to note is that marijuana is not legalized for recreational use in Israel.
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