With recent legislative progress, patients now have greater access to medical cannabis. And while we still have a bit of a distance to go, it’s important to look back in time and remember those who have helped get us to where we are now.
People have been using cannabis as medicine for thousands and thousands of years. But the Western world was not introduced to medical cannabis until Sir William O’Shaughnessy, an Irish physician, brought his experiences with cannabis in India back to Europe in the 18th century.
While O’Shaughnessy is credited for introducing medical cannabis to a large part of the world, Raphael Mechoulam, PhD, an Israeli researcher, is best know for his early work on cannabis that lead to the identification and characterization of the endocannabionoid system.
Mechoulam’s findings provided the research community with the framework of how cannabis works in the body and brain, laying the foundation for all future studies. But, let’s also not forget about another person whose work also significantly impacted the field – Rick Simpson.
Simpson was not a physician or researcher – he was a patient who used cannabis to effectively treat his skin cancer and developed his own strain (Rick Simpson oil, or RSO) to help others. He faced numerous legal challenges along the way but remained focused on helping patients.
Watch a video below on the early research on medical cannabis: