Mechoulam: The Relevance of the Receptor System Discovery

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In a 1986 interview Raphael Mechoulam, co discoverer of THC, takes notice of how the different agendas of scientists and policy makers affect cannabinoid research:

“Probably the major barrier has been the unwillingness, or fear, by companies to develop drugs that are based on cannabis. They are afraid, as I said before, of notoriety. They were afraid that they would get into a jam of sorts. So for the first ten years after our discoveries, essentially no work has been done whatsoever on the pharmaceutical properties of cannabis. Even afterwards the work that was done, was done very, very timidly and very slowly. Even when work done at a scientific level it was stopped at the corporate- administrative level . . . Most industries and governments do not know how to make use of scientists and scientific ideas.”(71)

Since then, Mechoulam, many of the scientists cited in this paper, and many others have brought about this revolution in cannabinoid research. Addressing a 1990 conference in Crete, Mechoulam reflected on the ultimate goal of their research:

“Cannabis is used by man not for its actions on memory or movement coordination but for its actions on mood and emotions. . . From published work we know that there are Cannabis receptors in the limbic system. There is general agreement that the limbic system occupies a central position in the neural mechanisms that govern behavior and emotions. . . [These mechanisms require further study] . . .Let us hope, however, that through better understanding of Cannabis chemistry in the brain we may also approach the chemistry of emotions.”(72)