Harvard Medical School recently hosted the first annual cannabis conference, where they awarded Rafael Mechoulam a lifetime achievement award. Mechoulam is an Israeli chemist known as the father of medical marijuana research. He identified the structure of cannabidiol in 1963 and isolated the active compound in marijuana, tetrahydrocannabinol (THC), in 1964.
"I thought that as soon as we knew the chemistry, the pharmacology, and the toxicity - and if there are any positive effects - companies will go in and take compounds and go ahead with clinical trials, which is true for a huge huge number of drugs," Mechoulam said to PBS.
The drug was made illegal one year after the 1936 release of "Reefer Madness." In the United States, it remains a schedule one controlled substance, in the same category as heroin. This classification has led to tight restrictions for researchers who want to research the drug.
Parents of epileptic children have strongly championed marijuana research within the last couple years due to the significant improvement medical marijuana has had on alleviating their children's seizures. Researchers believe the pace of research will dramatically quicken when marijuana becomes legal.