Israel has a leading role in studying medical marijuana in the world. The Hebrew University of Jerusalem has recently confirmed this position by opening the first global cannabis research center.
The Multidisciplinary Center on Cannabinoid Research will investigate cannabinoids, marijuana chemical compounds, and their biological effects under the guidance of Raphael Mechoulam. He discovered tetrahydrocannabinol, or THC, in 1964 and still works at the Hebrew University.
The center will also employ 27 leading cannabis scientists and researchers and is going to cooperate with other specialists in the fields of nanotechnology and pain and brain science.
In addition, the center is also oriented at international cooperation in the research of marijuana. It has already established contact with the Lambert Initiative, a marijuana research center based at the University of Sydney, Australia. Scientists from other countries, as well as biotech companies, are invited for collaboration.
This multidisciplinary center has a broad approach to marijuana investigation. It is the first establishment in the world where cannabis cultivation, chemistry, delivery, chemical development, and pharmacology are studied in one place.
Before its official launch, the center had funded three research projects that will investigate the impact of cannabis compounds on cancer, pain, and brain injuries. Other future projects of the center will also be focused on such conditions as inflammation, stress, as well as problems with the immune system and metabolism.
According to Mechoulam, the medical marijuana industry is currently in its infancy, and the effects of cannabinoids are still unstudied. Thus, research on cannabinoids is of vital importance not only for science but also for medicine. The Multidisciplinary Center will investigate many areas of this developing field, including pharmaceutical chemistry, neuroscience, and plant research.
Though Mechoulam has studied marijuana for most of his life, he claims that he has never smoked a joint as he considers the herb only from the medical viewpoint. He believes that the center will integrate and coordinate important activities on cannabinoids research and assist in expanding the collective knowledge.
Israel widely supports cannabis-related studies that are mostly carried out at the Hebrew University. Last year, the government loosened the requirements for marijuana qualification for medical users. This year, the Agriculture and Health ministries have allotted $2 million for studying medical marijuana cultivation, its medical benefits, and biochemistry. Moreover, the Israeli government also supported the initiative on the legalization of marijuana for adult use earlier this year.