The Scientist Who Discovered THC Has Never Smoked Weed
Raphael Mechoulam made cannabis’ biggest breakthrough in 1964, but has still never taken a puff.
Published on April 1, 2017

86 year-old Raphael Mechoulam is known as the “father of marijuana research.” In the 1960’s the college professor headed up cannabis research at the Hebrew University of Jerusalem and discovered the compounds THC and CBD. But while Mechoulam was one of the first people to discover the incredible importance of marijuana, he has gone his whole life without ever smoking, eating, vaping or using cannabis in any form or fashion.

In an interview with Culture magazine, Mechoulam admitted that his lifelong research and dedication to cannabis has never lead the scientist to twist up a doobie or pack a bong.

“I have never used it. First of all, I am still interested but as I did research and we had official supply of cannabis, obviously if we had used it for non-scientific reasons if people had come to know about it that would have stopped our work. Basically, neither I nor my students were interested.”

Mechoulam also told reporters about the days before cannabis was popular and how we was able to - semi-illegally - obtain the hashish that lead to the groundbreaking discovery of THC.

“I went to the administrative head of my institute and asked him whether he had a contact with the police and he said, ‘Sure, no problem.’ He called the number two person at the police at that time. They had been in the army together or something of that sort. From the other side I could hear him saying, ‘Is he reliable?’ And the head of the institute said, ‘Of course he’s reliable.’ So he invited me over to the police, and I took five kilos of hashish.” Mechoulam told Culture. “It broke the laws. It turned out I was not allowed to have it, and he was not allowed to give it to me. It was the Ministry of Health that should have permitted it, but in a small country, I went to the Ministry of Health, and I apologized, and any time I needed more hashish I went to the Ministry of Health and had no problems.”

Despite his smoking abstinence, Mechoulam hasn’t slowed down his participation in the ever-expanding world of Israeli cannabis. Even into his retirement, the scientist still consults with Israel’s Ministry of Health and helped push the government agency to approve the country’s nationwide medical marijuana program.

Mechoulam continues to work with the Ministry of Health to better serve Israel’s medical marijuana patients, but it still doesn’t appear that the groundbreaking chemist will be sparking up anytime soon.

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Zach Harris
Zach Harris is a writer based in Philadelphia whose work has appeared on Noisey, First We Feast, and Jenkem Magazine. You can find him on Twitter @10000youtubes complaining about NBA referees.
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