Hadassah

US Cannabis Activist Meets Hadassah’s Cannabis Research Pioneer

Friday, Jan 24 2014

Cancer Survivor, Cannabis Activist, and Founder of the Beverly Hill Cannabis Club Cheryl Shuman recently visited Israel to meet with Cannabis Research Pioneer Prof. Raphael Mechoulam of the Hadassah-Hebrew University Faculty of Medicine, whose work provided the basis for the medical community’s embrace of medical marijuana (cannabis). Ms. Shuman, who was diagnosed with advanced ovarian cancer many years ago, credits cannabis with bringing her back from the brink of death.

“Much of our work was begun half a century ago,” says Prof. Mechoulam. His interest in cannabis was sparked after he returned from a post-doctoral fellowship at the Rockefeller Institute in New York and became interested in the intersection of chemistry and biology. “Cannabis,” he says, “was ripe for investigation.”

Fluent in a variety of European languages, Prof. Mechoulam read 19th century papers about the plant’s potential. The Israeli police gave him five kilos of high-quality Lebanese hashish that they had apprehended from a smuggler. He coined a new term, “cannabinoids” (referring to the active constituents of cannabis) and isolated first CBD, a non-psychoactive constituent which, according to research at Hadassah, reduced sugar levels in diabetes-prone mice and ameliorated effects of heart ischemia (inadequate blood supply). Then he isolated THC, the psychoactive constituent, as well as half a dozen other cannabinoids.

Prof. Mechoulam notes that pharmaceutical companies have been reluctant to fund clinical trials because marijuana use is controversial and impossible to patent.

Yet, he says, “Cannabis remains a medical treasure trove which waits to be discovered.”

Dr. Elyad Davidson, who heads Hadassah’s Pain Clinic, does offer cannabis to his patients. He reports, however, that “we’re still pre-clinical, which means that although cannabis is being used, we’re guessing on its efficacy and safety. Pain isn’t something you can quantify, so we rely on the reliability of patient reports.”

In 2007, the first cannabis fields were sanctioned by the Israeli government. Today, 10 official growers/dealers have the permission of Israel’s Ministry of Health to plant fields of marijuana. There is, however, no standardization of the product yet. “This means that one dealer might be using leaves, while another is using blossoms, and a third, a different strain of cannabis altogether,” explains Dr. Davidson. “Certain strains and sub-strains have higher psychedelic qualities. This makes prescribing difficult.”

One Hadassah study has revealed that 85 percent of its patients found marijuana effective as an adjunct therapy for the pain associated with bone marrow transplantation. But, questions remain.For example: Does marijuana actually decrease the pain or just help a patient deal with chronic pain?

“There are now about 14,000 patients in Israel who have received government permission to take cannabis. This includes people suffering from chronic pain, the inflammation of Crohn’s disease, the spasticity of multiple sclerosis, the nausea caused by chemotherapy, the anxiety of post-traumatic stress, and the after-effects of bone marrow transplants.

Ms. Shuman came to Israel to learn about the medical marijuana industry there. Her hope is to cultivate a relationship with Israeli experts in this field and recruit them to advocate for quality medical marijuana treatment. The organization that is hosting her stay in Israel is calledTikkun Olam (repairing the world) and, according to Ms. Shuman, she and this oldest and largest marijuana-growing dispensary in Israel are dedicating their energy to repairing the world one bud of high-grade cannabis at a time. Her goal is to take Tikkun Olam’s unique model of dispensing marijuana and counseling patients international.

Read more about Ms. Shuman’s journey from terminal cancer patient to celebrity spokesperson for medical marijuana

Read more in The Jerusalem Post

Comments

No comments yet.
First Name
Email
Comment
Enter this word:

Related Stories

Friday, Apr 28 2017

Surgeons Perform World’s First-Ever Dual Robotic Surgery
 at Jerusalem’s Hadassah Hospital

The world’s first-of-its-kind dual robotic surgery was performed on April 23 at Hadassah Hospital Ein Kerem in Jerusalem, announced National President Ellen Hershkin of Hadassah, the Women’s Zionist Organization of America, Inc. (HWZOA).

READ MORE ›
alt_text

Tuesday, Apr 25 2017

Hadassah Performs World First Two-Robot Repair of Complex Spinal Break

Suffering six broken vertebrae and leg fractures in two places, Mr. Schwartz was brought to the underground hybrid operating room in Hadassah Hospital Ein Kerem’s Sarah Wetsman Davidson Hospital Tower. “In the hybrid room are two robots,” explains Prof. Meir Liebergall, head of Hadassah’s Orthopedic Department. “The more innovative of the two is the Zeego...

READ MORE ›
alt_text

Monday, Apr 24 2017

Hadassah Surgeon Saves Hands of Border Guards

It was cold and dark outside the Lions Gate of the Old City at 4 am on March 13, the day on which Jerusalem citizens were celebrating Purim.

READ MORE ›
alt_text

Monday, Apr 24 2017

Hadassah’s New Home Away from Home for Parents with Ill Children

Hadassah Hospital Mount Scopus now houses Israel’s first Pediatric Palliative and Supportive Care Center, a home away from home for parents and their children with chronic or terminal diseases.

READ MORE ›

Donation Questions

donorservices@hadassah.org

(800) 928-0685

Membership Questions

membership@hadassah.org

(800) 664-5646

Missions Department

missions@hadassah.org

(800) 237-1517

Contact Us

40 Wall Street

New York, NY 10005

support@hadassah.org

More ›

Show More