Cannabis chemists hailed as Nobel Prize winners

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Cannabis chemists hailed as Nobel Prize winners

Scientists including cannabis chemists rejoiced when Carolyn Bertozzi, Morten Meldal and Barry Sharpless won the 2022 Nobel Prize in Chemistry Wednesday for discovering reactions that let molecules snap together like legos to create new compounds.

Just ask Dr. Raphael Mechoulam, an organic chemist who is responsible for isolating tetrahydrocannabinol THC, one of the 113 known cannabinoids found in the cannabis plant and its main psychoactive constituent. Mechoulam, a professor of Medicinal Chemistry at the Hebrew University of Jerusalem, has helped start the medical marijuana revolution that started the debate around the topic of cannabis and has now enhanced the lives of so many people who are benefitting from it.

At the young age of 90 you read that correctly, Dr. Mechoulam revealed his latest discovery in 2020: cannabidiolic acid methyl ester EPM 301. The introduction of this new patented compound caused a wave of excitement about the future of medicinal cannabis.

Andrea Holmes, Ph. D., a professor of chemistry at Doane University, says that cannabis research needs more scientists.

I have been a chemistry professor for 15 years and a chemist for longer than that. I paid little attention to cannabis, thinking that this plant held a main chemical of interest: tetrahydrocannabinol, the psychoactive ingredient, Holmes wrote in STAT.

I now know that cannabis contains a galaxy of unexplored compounds that may well transform our understanding of plant medicine and human biology, including cannabinoids, terpenes, flavonoids, polyphenols, and more. It was only eight years ago that the largest scientific organization in the world, the American Chemical Society ACS, founded in 1876, approved the formation of a Cannabis Chemistry Subdivision CANN and admitted the group into its larger body.

Ezra Pryor, a founding member of CANN, started out in the cannabis industry as a consultant, or rent-a-scientist, as he called himself, for a variety of weed companies that had no one to advise them.

Pryor told Benzinga that the chemists in the cannabis industry were completely isolated from each other and that most cannabis companies starting up didn't have any scientists or chemists. I wanted to make chemistry more visible and connect all of us. The ACS was the perfect place to do that. There is always room for more cannabis scientists, according to these researchers.