Since our government still has marijuana listed as a Schedule 1 controlled substance, that is, as dangerous as heroin with no medicinal value, there are only several laboratories that have been given permission to do any type of research on cannabis in this country. While much of our knowledge of the healing properties of marijuana comes from anecdotal evidence in the United States, there have been many bona fide scientific studies that have produced real results and pertinent observations on the effectiveness of the herb’s healing properties outside the country. Some very successful studies have been done in Europe but the ones that are getting the most attention internationally and in the U.S. are from Israel.
Israel has become the world leader in medical marijuana research. Although it is a very small country, it is apparently very open-minded when it comes to medicine.
Israel’s Ministry of Health has been looking closely at the medicinal effects of cannabis for decades. In fact, it was the legendary Israeli scientist, Dr. Raphael Mechoulam, who convinced the Ministry to start a medicinal cannabis program and in 1992 it was implemented. Today, that medical marijuana program treats over 25,000 Israeli patients with cannabis and cannabis extracts.
Dr. Mechoulam, by the way, became famous in marijuana circles and the scientific community in the 1960s. He was the man who isolated the psychoactive cannabinoid in marijuana known as THC (tetrahydrocannabinol). He also identified CBD (cannabidiol), another incredibly potent, but not psychoactive cannabinoid in the marijuana plant. CBD has been shown to drastically reduce epileptic seizures, decrease pain, it is an anti-psychotic, anti-inflammatory and among other things it is an antioxidant and antiemetic.
CBD is the element that brought about the famous “turn around” of Dr. Sanjay Gupta of CNN. He was adamantly opposed to legalizing any part of marijuana until he did a show for CNN on marijuana. He discovered that a little girl named Charlotte Figi, was having over 300 gran mal seizures every week and couldn’t talk, walk or do anything else with her life until her parents, as a last resort, took her to Colorado, where Marijuana use was legal. They too were against the use of cannabis but when they heard that CBD in cannabis helped a patient who had similar seizures then they bought some CBD extract and gave it to Charlotte. The small doses of CBD changed her life immediately. Instead of the 300 seizures each week she had only 3 or 4 each month and they were much less severe. She now lives a normal life and Dr. Gupta is an advocate for legalized medical marijuana.
Israeli scientists who regularly do research on the effects of marijuana think they have found another breakthrough use for cannabis: the prevention of cancer. Israeli cancer patients have been using marijuana for some time to relieve pain and nausea and to stimulate their appetite. Researchers at the Technion-Israel Institute of Technology in Haifa have found that marijuana can possibly be effective in treating brain and breast cancer and also in delaying the progress and expansion of cancer cells. These are only preliminary findings and there is a lot more to look at before firm conclusions can be reached but the researchers are investigating 50 different strains of cannabis and observing their effects on over 200 types of cancer.
The Israeli research on marijuana is proving to be indispensible to patients all over the world. Thanks to Dr, Mechoulam and his associates, we in the United States can clearly see the benefits of marijuana to fight diseases, pain, seizures and many other maladies. There is, however, another party to thank for all these years of dedicated research: The United States government. That’s right, NIH (the National Institutes of Health), an official agency of the federal government, has been funding Dr, Mechoulam’s pet projects for over five decades. We were surprised when we found out also.
The NIH has been sending $100,000 to Dr, Mechoulam each and every year for his cannabis research. The amazing thing is, that with all the great results that the Israeli’s have discovered, apparently the United States government doesn’t do anything with them or cannabis would have been removed from its Schedule 1 classification long ago. We think that much of this extremely positive marijuana information has been packed and sealed into a wooden box and stamped “Top Secret” and then stored in a large warehouse somewhere and stacked next to another wooden box that contains the Holy Grail. Or…the data got lost along the way from Israel to Washington D.C. We just can’t explain it.
Photo courtesy of Allie Beckett.