Prof. Raphael Mechoulam
Prof. Raphael MechoulamYoram Aschheim

The Hebrew University of Jerusalem announced the passing of Prof. Raphael Mechoulam, the world pioneer in cannabis research. Known as the "Father of Cannabis Research," Mechoulam died in Israel at age 92.

Professor Mechoulam was the first to isolate the psychoactive substance in cannabis, THC, which affects the brain, consciousness, and creativity, as well as CBD, the plant’s most important substance for its known medical benefits. He received dozens of awards, honors, and decorations throughout his life, including the Harvey Prize, EMET Prize, and Rothschild Prize.

In an article published in the journal Annual Reviews, he shared, "The endocannabinoid system has recently been revealed to us. Its involvement in a variety of biological processes is very broad, but the role of most of the substances that compose it has not yet been studied. I want to emphasize that in the field of the endocannabinoid system, as in other fields, a collaboration between scientists is a wonderful and useful thing for discovering new biological properties."

"Working on cannabis was challenging and promising from a scientific perspective," Mechoulam told the media six years ago. "I had support from the police, who provided the hashish (originating from police bans), and from the Ministry of Health, which gave the approval. The initial work was done at the Weizmann Institute and continued at the Hebrew University in 1966."

Prof. Asher Cohen, the President of Hebrew University, paid tribute to Prof. Mechoulam, "Most of the human and scientific knowledge about cannabis was collected thanks to Prof Mechoulam. He paved the way for a series of studies in the field and called for scientific collaboration among different researchers. He was a sharp-minded, groundbreaking, and charismatic intellectual. This is a sad day for the academic community, and I extend my heartfelt condolences to the family. May his memory be a blessing."

Prof. Mechoulam was born in Sofia, Bulgaria, in late 1930. after surviving the Holocaust, he immigrated to Israel with his family in 1949. He began his journey at the Hebrew University with the completion of his second degree in biochemistry in 1953. Prof. Mechoulam began his research in cannabinoids at the Weizmann Institute in 1962 and then joined the Hebrew University in 1966, where he continued to study the compounds found in cannabis. He was appointed as a full-time professor in 1972 and, in 1978, was appointed to the Lionel Jacobson Chair in Medicinal Chemistry.

Between 1979-1982, Prof. Mechoulam served as the Rector of the Hebrew University, and during his tenure, the Department of Computer Science was established. In 1999, Prof. Mechoulam was appointed as the President of the International Cannabinoid Research Society, a position he held until 2002. Additionally, he served as the Head of the Natural Sciences Division at the Israel Academy of Sciences and Humanities since 2007.