The U.S. government has been funding medical cannabis research for the past five decades. Only, they’ve been outsourcing that research to another country. For half of a century, the National Institute of Health has provided an annual grant to Israel for research on the herb.
You may have heard of Dr. Raphael Mechoulam. Dr. Mechoulam is the man who first discovered THC.
Back in the early 1960s, Mechoulam asked the U.S. National Institute of Health (NIH) for funding on his cannabis research. Unfortunately, true to form, they turned him down.
However, according to a Newsweek report, one year after Mechoulam’s first inquiry, he got a call from the NIH. Apparently, after an unnamed U.S. Senator caught his son smoking a little cannabis, the senator called the NIH to find out what the herb actually did to the brain. No one had the answer.
So, the same official that once rejected Mechoulam’s research called him with some good news. The NIH would grant $100,000 to Mechoulam’s team each year for further study on the health effects of cannabis.
This funding has continued for over 50 years. This is amazing, as it is really tough to get an NIH overseas grant.
A half-century’s worth of medical discovery
In that time, Mechoulam and his team have unearthed a wealth of medical potential in the cannabis plant. This includes findings that suggest that:
- Cannabinoids aid in recovery after brain injury
- Cannabinoids have neuroprotective properties
- CBD has antipsychotic properties
- Cannabinoids may aid in autoimmune conditions
- CBD lowers incidence of diabetes
- CBD aids in epilepsy
The few findings mentioned here are only the very beginning of what Mechoulam and associated teams have discovered. The research conducted in Israel since the 1960s has lent itself to cannabis reform time and time again.
Without Mechoulam’s contributions, we may not have the medical cannabis programs that we have today. In his own country, Mechoulam has won several major awards and honors for his work.
In his own country, Mechoulam has won many prestigious awards and honors for his work. Now, Israel’s medical cannabis industry is booming. There, patients can access medical cannabis for cancer, chronic pain, post-traumatic stress disorder, pediatric epilepsy, arthritis, and Crohn’s disease.
Though $100,000 can go quickly in scientific research, the federal government’s generosity helped fund these incredible discoveries.
So, after all of that funding, why is cannabis still seen as having “no medical value” by the DEA and other governmental agencies?
In 2013, the NIH released even a study that described that the endocannabinoid system plays a role in “essentially every human disease”. The U.S. government currently holds a patent on cannabinoids as a neuroprotective antioxidant, which is helpful in Alzheimer’s and other neurodegenerative diseases.
Dr. Alan Shackelford, a Harvard-trained, medical cannabis prescribing doctor in Colorado, explained that the U.S. doctors had no trouble prescribing the herb prior to the Reefer Madness era. He tells Newsweek,
Marijuana was an integral part of American medicine for more than 100 years, from the 1830s through the 1940s, and it was used safely and effectively for all of that time. – Shackelford
So, what’s with all of the hypocrisy? Recently, large pharmaceutical companies have made substantial donations to anti-legalization campaigns. At the same time, other companies have received special permission to test cannabis-based pharmaceuticals in U.S. patients.
Yet, everyday doctors who wish to prescribe the herb cannot since the herb has Schedule 1 status.
All but a select few independent and pharmaceutical researchers are blocked from experimenting with cannabis on U.S. soil. Though the federal government has respected state rights thus far, patients, recommending doctors, and cannabis businesses are still shunned to remain in a gray area of the law.
More than half of U.S. states have implemented some form of cannabis reform.
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This article first appeared on Herb.co website.