Israel is not often thought of as a leader in the medical marijuana movement, but great things have come out of Israel. The most notable accomplishment is the discovery of tetrahydrocannabinol in 1964 by Dr. Raphael Mechoulam from the University of Tel Aviv. It was his work that finally unlocked the first secret of how cannabis worked, and discovering the primary psychoactive cannabinoid of marijuana is certainly no small feat. Dr. Mechoulam also helped discover anandamide, the endogenous cannabinoid which works through all mammal endocannabinoid systems, in 1993.
The medical marijuana program started on the recommendation of Dr. Mechoulam and started to take off in 2002. By 2005 there were a few hundred licensed medical marijuana users, and seven years later that number has exploded to 10,000 licensees. Most of these licenses are for patients with severe chronic pain or terminal illnesses. Many report that medicinal cannabis is more effective than pharmaceuticals. The support for this new medicine also stems from cannabis being mentioned in the Torah, which removes the traditional religious backlash which has been seen in America.
Israel is one of the most forward-thinking countries in the world, and has endured numerous hardships only to emerge stronger than ever. Hopefully they will continue to improve and expand their medical marijuana program in the future, as well as pursue new research. If the success of the past is any indication of what’s to come, then the future is indeed very bright.