It is well known the chemical structures of THC and CBD were worked out and published in 1963-64 by the Israeli pharmacologist Raphael Mechoulam and colleagues at Hebrew University in Israel.
It is not so well known that Mechoulam, now 84, has been conducting and guiding cutting-edge cannabinoid research all these years. Zach Klein’s beautifully filmed biopic, The Scientist recounts Mechoulam’s role in discovering and elucidating the endocannabinoid system, and proposing clinical applications.Klein plays the curious Everyman who questions Mechoulam about cannabis and how it works in the body. The interviews are conducted in the pleasant Jerusalem apartment where Raphe and Dahlia Mechoulam have lived since 1966, and in Mechoulam’s lab at Hebrew University, and in his car as the scientist drives to and from work, and at a meeting of the International Canabinoid Research Society (a group Mechoulam helped organize).
Although Mechoulam’s manner is gentle and undemanding, he is making a strong plea in The Scientist: cannabis-based medicines should be made available to patients. He does not point an angry finger at any government or agency that has impeded progress —he shrugs in disappointment.
In response to Klein’s first question, Mechoulam observes (in the mildest, sweetest tone of voice) that cannabinoid medicine “is not being used as much as it should be in the clinic. It is of great promise in the clinic. Maybe this film can push it forward a bit.”
Klein asks why, at the start of his career, Mechoulam chose to study the active compound(s) in cannabis.
Mechoulam replies, “Well, a scientist should try to find topics of importance…”