Mechoulam died in Israel at age 92; his death was announced Friday by American Friends of the Hebrew University, where Mechoulam helped form The Hebrew University Multidisciplinary Center for Cannabinoid Research in 2017.
“Most of the human and scientific knowledge about cannabis was accumulated thanks to Prof. Mechoulam,” Hebrew University President Asher Cohen said in a statement. “He paved the way for groundbreaking studies and initiated scientific cooperation between researchers around the world. Mechoulam was a sharp-minded and charismatic pioneer.”
As a professor in the Hebrew University School of Pharmacy, Mechoulam and his research team isolated THC, the psychoactive component of cannabis, as well as cannabidiol, or CBD, an active ingredient in cannabis with a range of medicinal benefits.
He also pioneered the study of the body’s own cannabinoid system, which produces chemicals similar to THC to help regulate appetite, manage pain and operate the immune system.
As Mechoulam discovered more about cannabis and its efficacy in easing symptoms of cancers, epilepsy and other diseases, he lamented that strict drug laws in the United States and elsewhere suppressed research and kept the derivatives of cannabis off the market.
The industry and science of medicinal cannabis “has to follow medical lines of thought and development and modern medical routes,” he told the New York Times in 2017. “Israel has more [clinical trials] than the United States at the moment, which is ridiculous.”
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Raphael Mechoulam, Israel’s ‘father of cannabis research,’ dies at 92