researchers scientific discovery

Appreciating the Reefer Researchers of the past

In 1963, Raphael Mechoulam, along with a team of scientific researchers, identified the chemical structure of CBD, and he is often called the “Father of Cannabis” for his role in the discovery and isolation of delta9-tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) in 1964.

In 1992, Raphael Mechoulam along with NIMH researchers Dr. Lumir Hanus and William Devane were credited with the discovery of the first endogenous cannabinoid that occurred naturally. This cannabinoid was called anandamide aka the bliss molecule.

This find led to the discovery of cb1 and the endocannabinoid system. By 1993, cb2 receptors were discovered. The science of cannabis was just getting off to a start. Or was it? Cannabis has been around for thousands of years. Has anyone else made significant discoveries pertaining to cannabis prior to this?

You bet your buds they did!

They just aren’t mentioned as often. The research to learn about these pioneers in the cannabis culture seems to be buried. Fortunately, through the help of the internet, this information is starting to surface and become a bit easier to find. Let’s look at some of cannabis’ earliest researchers and pioneers of science.

Where the Science of Cannabis Was Sparked

Cannabis was virtually unknown to Western medicine until it was introduced by an Irish surgeon named W.B. O’Shaughnessy in the 1840’s. During this time a French psychiatrist named Jacques-Joseph Moreau noted in writings that cannabis could be used to increase one’s appetite, aid with sleep, and that it helped get rid of headaches. This was the push this amazing medicine needed at the time.

By 1851, cannabis was medicine and officially part of the U.S. Pharmacopeia listing dozens of medicinal uses including treating alcohol and opium addiction. Go figure, they knew more than a 170 years ago what the advanced medicine of today is just admitting to, after decades of death from pharmaceuticals.

To add salt to the wound of marijuana prohibition, Dr. E. A. Birch, a respected medical professional, penned a journal in 1889 explaining cannabis as the treatment for opium and chloral hydrate addictions, while here in 2018, the opioid epidemic has claimed an unprecedented amount of lives globally.

The Science of Cannabis Cultivates Results That We Are Just Using 123 Years Later

In 1895, roughly 123 years ago a group of researchers made a cannabis breakthrough for medicine. Thomas Barlow Wood, M.A., Thomas Hill Easterfield, M.A., Ph.D., and W. T. Newton Spivey, M.A., became the first researchers to identify and isolate the cannabinoid cannabinol, better known as CBN.

It wasn’t long before research led to a deeper understanding of this cannabinoid when R.S. Cahn deciphered the structure of CBN sometime in the 1930’s. R. Adams, along with a group of other researchers, identified the cannabinoid cannabidiol aka CBD in 1940. Cannabis is a medicine and research that was conducted for 100 years by several reputable medical professionals showed this.

Coincidently, marijuana prohibition was born in 1937 limiting any further research. It also ushered in the era of the opioid epidemic and decades of death at the hands of Big Pharma. It would be almost a quarter century later before any further recorded progress would be made. That progress was the 1964 discoveries made about THC made by Dr. Raphael Mechoulam and his team.

The 90’s Saw Cannabis Researchers Grow in Number

Not only did some of the tastiest and stoniest cannabis strains of the time like Chem Dawg, Sour Diesel and OG Kush hit the scene, new research on cannabis did too. In 1990, the senior Investigator for the National Institute of Mental Health (NIMH) Miles Herkenham and his team discovered a part of the body called the cannabinoid receptor system.

In 1992, the official credit for the discovery of the endocannabinoid system went to Raphael Mechoulam, William Devane, and Dr. Lumir Hanus. Since then the science of cannabis has grown like a weed. Today, researchers are studying isolate, FECO (full extraction cannabis oil), CBN, CBG, THCa, CBD, CBDA, CBN, THCV, THCVa, and more.

We’ve learned that cannabis contains hundreds of cannabinoids instead of only a few. We’ve also learned about terpenes and how they interact with the endocannabinoid system to help regulate our body’s functions. This is cannabis science that’s evolving every day.

Science has learned a lot about cannabis but personally, I think they are still missing the big picture. While they are in a lab trying to replicate cannabis, they never experience the happiness of sharing a joint with a bud. Part of the medicine behind cannabis to me that science is missing is the healing happy interaction with other humans when you smoke together.