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Not very many medical scientists can say that they have devoted a significant portion of their career toward researching cannabis. Even those that have an interest in the topic often find themselves waging political battles and struggling to gain traction in this highly contested area of research.
Thankfully, not every country has as inappropriately restrictive laws as the United States does. In Israel, for example, medical and chemical research on cannabis has been ongoing for some time. Now, Raphael Mechoulam, whose professional experience includes both organic and medical chemistry, has announced a discovery that could drastically change cannabis legalization.
Mechoulam is the name many people know, as he is credited with isolating and establishing the correct chemical structure for THC and other cannabinoids back in the 1960s. People also know his name because he published research in 1980 regarding the potential ability of CBD to treat seizures.
Unfortunately, with both of his previous breakthroughs, Mechoulam has seen very slow response to these impressive scientific achievements. It was more than 30 years after he first connected CBD with seizure suppression that major pharmaceutical companies first began working in this area. Now, he is back in the news for synthesizing certain cannabis acids in the laboratory for the first time.
These cannabis acids are particularly fascinating as they potentially bind better to the same receptors as the known cannabinoids do, allowing a smaller amount to have a more potent impact. In their natural state, these acids are highly unstable, making it difficult for researchers to gather or concentrate them. However, with the successful synthesis of these acids, Mechoulam has effectively opened the door for mainstream medical research into the benefits of these assets. He believes they could provide a foundation for future medications for pain, anxiety, and even psoriasis.
Sadly, instead of going the way of Jonas Salk and making his research free and available because of the benefit could potentially offer the public, Mechoulam’s research will be for sale to pharmaceutical companies. That means that only companies with massive research and development budgets have a shot at working with these acids, at least for now.
In a way, Mechoulam could be basically setting himself up for the same kind of failure his earlier accomplishments experienced. By limiting the pool of people who can access his breakthrough, he may prevent it from having the impact he wants to see during his lifetime.
Increased pharmaceutical involvement in cannabis delivery methods for both medical and recreational purposes will no doubt complicate legalization efforts in the future. It is exciting to see groundbreaking research, but it would be much more exciting if researchers and doctors with less of a profit motive also had access to it.
For previous Ladybud articles about pharmaceuticals, click here.