The Higher Learning LV Interview: Dr. Raphael Mechoulam

Updated: 53 minutes ago

Happy 92nd birthday to Dr. Mechoulam (November 5, 2022). 🎈


In January 2022, Higher Learning LV conducted an exclusive interview with pioneering cannabis researcher Raphael Mechoulam, an Israeli organic chemist and professor of medicinal chemistry at Hebrew University of Jerusalem.

Image courtesy Raphael Mechoulam


Mechoulam and his teams of researchers over the decades have been responsible for some of the most significant discoveries regarding the cannabinoids and terpenes produced by hemp/cannabis/marijuana and how they interact with the human and mammalian endocannabinoid system (ECS) to produce wellness outcomes and health improvements in some cases.


Other popular articles in the Higher Learning LV Interview series include:


The Interview


Higher Learning LV: "There is a perception among some patients and cannabis consumers that naturally occurring cannabinoids are more healthy than synthetic cannabinoids. Synthetic cannabinoids are sometimes stereotyped as featuring a lower safety profile. Is there any scientific basis for such a bias against synthetic cannabinoids?"


Mechoulam: "Synthetic versus natural is not relevant as regards toxicity or activity. If a compound is toxic or active, it will be toxic or active...whether it is natural or synthetic."

Raphael Mechoulam: "Synthetic versus natural is not relevant as regards toxicity or activity. If a compound is toxic or active, it will be toxic or active...whether it is natural or synthetic."

Image courtesy Raphael Mechoulam


HLLV: "In the past, you’ve referenced the lack of clinical utilization of the cannabinoids produced by hemp and cannabis. In the 2015 documentary The Scientist, you said, 'Here we have a group of compounds… an endogenous system of major importance. It is not being used as much as it should be in the clinic. It is of great promise in the clinic. Let's try to push it forward.'

"What are some ways in which the emerging legal cannabis industry can 'push it forward' and better utilize the cannabinoids and terpenes produced by hemp and cannabis?"

RM: "Endogenous compounds—hormones for example—are widely used as drugs. However, they should first be well investigated as regards toxicity, best way of administration, interaction with drugs, etc. Only THC and CBD have been well investigated and they are now approved by the US FDA as drugs for specific diseases."

HLLV: "With so many isomers and analogs of cannabinoids, the number in existence can become confusing–and even contentious among journalists and researchers. In your opinion, how many different cannabinoids have been discovered to date, Dr. Mechoulam?"


Mechoulam: "There are more than 100 plant cannabinoids. I assume that many hundreds of synthetic derivatives have been prepared."

RM: "There are more than 100 plant cannabinoids. I assume that many hundreds of synthetic derivatives have been prepared."

Image courtesy Raphael Mechoulam


HLLV: "Much focus is given to major cannabinoids such as CBD and THC. What is your opinion of the medicinal efficacy of less common cannabinoids, including THCV, CBGA, CBC, and CBN? Should pharmaceutical companies and commercial product formulators reach beyond the major cannabinoids?"

RM: "Correct. The medicinal efficacy of the less common cannabinoids, including THCV, CBGA, CBC, and CBN has not been well investigated. I strongly believe that some of the plant and synthetic cannabinoids will show promising activity and will be developed as drugs. We recently showed that CBG has very promising activities."


Mechoulam: "Correct. The medicinal efficacy of the less common cannabinoids, including THCV, CBGA, CBC, and CBN has not been well investigated. I strongly believe that some of the plant and synthetic cannabinoids will show promising activity and will be developed as drugs. We recently showed that CBG has very promising activities."

HLLV: "Some have labeled cannabis as a cure for diseases such as cancer or Crohn's disease. Is it scientifically valid to call cannabis 'a cure'?"

RM: "Cannabinoids have not been shown to be a cure for cancer. They may be of help to an ongoing therapy. We have investigated CBD in COVID-19 and found no activity. However, CBD is active in epilepsy (approved by FDA) and numerous other disease states – inflammatory, autoimmune, etc."

HLLV: "Recent research has indicated a potential role for terpenes in the entourage effect and that the precise mix of these phytomolecules, which are produced by more than 20,000 plant species, may indicate whether a particular cannabis cultivar is sativa or indica. What is your opinion of the role of terpenes in the entourage effect?"

RM: "Unfortunately, the 'entourage effect,' which we described decades ago, has not been well investigated. Some terpenes are most probably involved."


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