The Scientist

The Story of Dr. Raphael Mechoulam and the Endocannabinoid System

63 minutes 9.1/10 based on 16 votes

This is a documentary that traces the personal story of Nobel Prize nominee Dr. Mechoulam. He was born in Bulgaria and grew up during the war. His father had been a physician and head of the Jewish hospital in Sofia. Because of the strict anti-Jewish laws, his father moved the family to a small village where he traveled around attending to those in need. A few years later his father was sent to a concentration camp from which he was later released.

In 1949 after the war, the family moved from Bulgaria to Rehovot in Israel as did most Bulgarian Jews. Then in 1966, Dr. Mechoulam moved from Rehovot to Jerusalem where he has been living ever since.

At that time he deliberately decided to work on the chemistry of the plant known as Cannabis Sativa, which has been used for thousands of years as a recreational agent and as a drug. Surprisingly, the active agent had never before been isolated in its pure form. He was aware that the police had quite a stash of confiscated Cannabis that they usually burned after completing all the legal requirements. As a young employee at the Weizmann Institute of Science, he went to the administrative director and asked if there was a way to get the hashish for research. Hashish contains about 4 or 5% of Cannabidiol, which makes it difficult to isolate and obtain in large amounts. What he and his colleagues discovered is that there is only one active compound in the plant that has been called Delta-9 tetrahydrocannabinol, THC. This compound causes all the hashish-type effects.

After testing on monkeys, they decided to test on humans. They had a group of friends ingest 10 mg of pure THC on a piece of cake prepared by Dr. Mechoulam’s wife. Five of them ate cake without THC. Surprisingly each person was affected differently. Some said they felt strange, one started talking nonstop, another one burst out laughing every few minutes, and one had an anxiety attack. None of the group had ever used cannabis before.

Throughout history marijuana has been prescribed for many different ailments and conditions. The old literature gives clear indication of its medical benefits and there’s evidence of its use in many different ancient cultures. Once they discovered that it had been used successfully in the past to treat epilepsy, it was tested on a few subjects in Sao Paulo, Brazil. The experiments were highly successful and the results were published; however the reaction of the medical and pharmaceutical communities was completely unexpected.

Watch the story of this amazing scientist and all of his contributions to the medical field now.

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