Skip to main content


ICR Conference 2017: Bright Minds of Cannabis Science

Apr 30, 2017 04:52PM ● By Randy Robinson

Dr. Raphael Mechoulam delivers his keynote speech at the ICR Conference 2017 (Photo by Randy Robinson)

This weekend, Colorado State University in Pueblo hosted the first Institute for Cannabis Research (ICR) Conference, a melding of analytic minds for all things cannabis.

ICR was founded last year through grants supplied by the state of Colorado. These grants come from a pool of tax money derived from recreational cannabis sales.

According to Jennifer Mullen, the interim director of ICR, this conference drew figures from 10 countries and 21 US states. The most prominent visitors hailed from Israel, and for good reason.

The headliner for this year’s conference was none other than Dr. Raphael Mechoulam, the “father of cannabis science,” whose lab is located at the University of Tel Aviv in Israel. In the early 1960s, Mechoulam’s lab diligently studied the plant and its medical potential for over half a century, establishing the body of stringent scientific research that eventually gave rise to the medical marijuana movement—and, ultimately, the wildfire of legalization currently sweeping across the world. His work also led to the discovery of the endocannabinoid system, a physiological network in animals that’s responsible for maintaining harmony between all cells and organs in an individual.

Mechoulam’s hour-long talk on Saturday summarized his life’s work. He went over little-known studies for diseases most people don’t associate with cannabinoid therapies. Organ transplant rejection,  chemotherapy side effects in children, and osteoporosis were just a few examples where his lab found that cannabis—particularly the compound CBD—could effectively treat these conditions with no fear of toxicity.

In case you're wondering, Mechoulam does not use cannabis for anything but his analytical research. He says he’s only ever tried THC once, to confirm the results of his first isolation study. And that was back in the 1960s.

Mechoulam was joined this weekend by a legion of other researchers, too. Although scientific research into cannabis remained the focus, other projects assessing the economics, socio-cultural impacts, and popular opinions of cannabis were discussed as well.

If this first ICR Conference had one overarching theme, it was this: we need more research on cannabis, and governments need to step aside so we can study this plant. This is now a billion-dollar industry, and thousands of people in the US alone rely on cannabis as a medicine. With legal markets in several US states, and a new national market launching in Canada, solid data on this plant and its uses are needed now more than ever.

The time for anecdotes are over. We have hard numbers backing us up, and it's time to unleash these findings on the world.