Unearthing The Active Ingredients
In Israel, the longstanding history of cannabis research is inexorably tied to Professor Raphael
Mechoulam, one of pioneers of the field. During his research in the 1960s, Mechoulam began
investigating the cannabis plant after learning about the isolation of morphine from opium.
His efforts centered on identifying the active ingredient, believing it would pave the way for
greater scientific study. Through his collaborative efforts with Drs. Yechiel Gaoni and Yuval
Shvo, Mechoulam was able to isolate many cannabinoids, most notably cannabidiol (CBD) in
1963 and tetrahydrocannabinol (THC), the psychoactive compound found in cannabis, in 1964.
Mechoulam and Gaoni were able to also synthesize THC, paving the way for other important
discoveries, including the endocannabinoid system. These findings are widely attributed as a
major milestone for cannabis research, as it marked the first time the active compounds were
successfully identified. It also inspired the hunt for the other crucial compounds.