Raphael Mechoulam was awarded an honorary doctorate last month from the Ben-Gurion University of the Negev (BGU) in Israel.
The 82-year-old Israeli scientist, who discovered THC over 50 years ago, already holds a PhD, but was presented with another one on Nov. 10 from the BGU committee, in honor of his lifelong work with cannabinoids.
“In deep appreciation of an eminent scientist who studies the chemistry of plant-derived materials and their medicinal functions, a discoverer of the active agent in the cannabis plant, tetrahydrocannabinol, and endogenous cannabinoids in the human brain, whose ground-breaking research has laid the foundation for cannabinoid research globally; In recognition of a multi-faceted researcher whose work encompasses both basic and applied research, ranging from the chemical analysis of natural products to their psycho-physiological effects on the human body, from the discovery of receptors and materials in the human brain to the development of therapies for chronic diseases and the alleviation of suffering…”
Israeli filmmaker Zach Klein recorded the event as part of a documentary that he is working on about Dr. Mechoulam called ‘The Scientist.’
Dr. Mechoulam is widely acknowledged as the father of cannabinoid research, and has received many prestigious awards for his work, the committee noted, including the Israel Prize for Chemistry.
After becoming the first person to synthesize marijuana’s main ingredient in 1964, Dr. Mechoulam dedicated the rest of his career to studying the plant and its various medical uses.
In 1982, he was quoted saying that if marijuana were legal, it would immediately replace 10-20% of all pharmaceutical medicines. Dr. Mechoulam’s lab also made history in 1992, when one of his colleagues became the first to discover a THC-like chemical in the brain called anandamide.
Despite the politics that have persistently clouded his research, even the U.S. National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA) has given him recognition, presenting Dr. Mechoulam with a Discovery Award in 2011 for his “extraordinary work in substance abuse and neurosciences.”
Today, Dr. Mechoulam continues to push for medical marijuana research in his home country, where medical marijuana is legal yet still highly debated.