Article by Richard Cowan, former NORML National Director and author of Is CBD Oil Good For Your Hair?
Last year, The Times of Israel reported that the Knesset, Israel’s Parliament, voted to “legalize” cannabis in 2021. It still seems on course to act soon.
The Times said, “According to the new law being promoted, people age 21 and up will be allowed to purchase cannabis at specialized stores. They will be required to show identification.
The drug will not be allowed to be taken into or out of the country. The stores will be allowed to make deliveries but will be barred from selling cannabis edibles that resemble candy.
The state will “ensure the prices are reasonable” to avoid encouraging customers to go to the black market, according to the interministerial team’s recommendations.
However, the law will likely include a blanket ban on smoking cannabis in public spaces. It will not allow home growing of the plant without a license, though the team recommended that the matter be weighed at a later stage.
And now, The Jerusalem Post reports that Prof. Raphael Mechoulam who – in 1963, (four years before I discovered “Mexican commercial”) – became the first scientist to isolate THC, the principal psychoactive ingredient in the cannabis plant, AKA marijuana, is now working on a new project, researching “cannabis-derived acids.”
The Post says that Mechoulam’s previous discoveries were “foundational to the world of cannabis-related medical research, leading many to nickname him the ‘godfather’ and even the ‘father' of cannabis research.” Clearly, his new research is clearly to be taken seriously.
Now he is working with EPM, a small Israeli pharmaceutical company which plans to “register in the Tel Aviv Stock Exchange toward the third or fourth quarters of 2021.”
EPM's CEO, Israeli entrepreneur Reshef Swisa said that cannabis acids are an exciting avenue for new research because, "while the entire industry is working on the compounds that decarboxylate from the plant after it starts drying up, we were more interested in looking into what happens on the plant itself."
It is interesting to note that EPM’s chairman is Julian Gangolli, a veteran British pharmaceutical executive, who was previously President of the North American division of GW Pharmaceuticals Inc., that was recently acquired by the Irish pharmaceutical company,
Gangolli said that for pharmaceutical companies to show an interest in investing in a new drug, they need it to be either more potent, cost-effective, or have fewer side effects than the currently approved treatments. "It must be better than what they have now," he said.
Swisa said that while the potency of cannabis acids is higher than its cannabinoid counterparts, "the cannabis acids are very unstable, meaning they break apart into cannabinoids very easily. If you tried to take them from the plant or tried to consume them, the heat of your body would break them down and they would decarboxylate."
He added that cannabis acids are also not easily reproducible, in that they depend on complicated forms of extraction which require very specific plant-growing conditions.
In order to get around these obstacles, Swisa said Mechoulam's team synthesized molecules in a lab which replicate the structures of the cannabis acids, but do not easily break up into cannabinoids, allowing them to be reproduced on a large scale without the need to depend on living plants.
"We've so far developed 14 different molecules, eight of which are completely novel discoveries, meaning that we own a very exclusive patent on them, since they are a new discovery to the scientific world," he said. "Each one of those molecules has the potential to be developed into several drugs, while many companies can do incredible things with even just one molecule."
So as Israel races with New York to legalize, President Biden, who has fired White House staffers who admitted to using marijuana at some point in their past, said in his first Press Conference, “We’ve Got to Prove Democracy Works”, while ignoring all of the states that have voted to legalize marijuana.
And Biden also promised that his administration would lead with “science and truth,” but little Israel is still decades ahead of the US in cannabinoid research.