The name most commonly associated with the study of the cannabis plant is that of the Israeli chemist Prof Rafael Meshulam, Who won the Israel Prize for Chemistry for isolating the main active ingredient in cannabis, which is responsible for its curative effect and some of its medical effects--9-THC (Delta 9 tetrahydrocannabinol), now called THC.
But considering In rising popularity Of cannabinoids, the second most important cannabinoids, CBD (Cannabidiol), there is another name that deserves the recognition it deserves - that of the American chemist Roger Adams.
In fact, Adams was not only the first to discover cannabinoids and isolate the cannabis plant, he was also the first to synthesize the cannabinoids CBN (Cannabinol) in his laboratory.
Adams was also the first to synthesize various derivatives of THC in the 40 years, twenty years before Prof. Meshulam - but could not find his main isomer, Delta-9-THC.
Adams assumed that some THC derivative was naturally produced in the cannabis plant and gave him his psychoactive effect, but he could not synthesize it or isolate it from the plant, partly because the technology used by Prof. Meshulam did not exist during his time.
Many think that Adams deserves at least some of the credits for the discovery of the delta-9-THC, and it is reasonable to assume that Prof. Meshulam and Dr. Yechiel Genoni, who conducted the research with him, also relied on Adams' early work to reach their discovery.
In addition to his achievements as a researcher in the field of cannabis, Adams played an important role in fighting the Germans in both World Wars. He developed chemical warfare protection measures for the US military, as well as means of warfare to respond to them in the same currency.
When the Nazis came to power in Germany, Adams joined a body of scientists that worked to refute the "scientific" theories on which they were based, especially Nazi racial theory. After World War II, he was the US government commissioner on the process of purging Nazi ideology from German academic institutions.
Adams began studying at Harvard University in 1905, when he was only 16. In 1913 he received a scholarship to study in Germany, the world leader in chemistry at the time, and studied at the prestigious Kaiser Wilhelm Institute in Berlin. He returned to the US shortly before World War I broke out and 1917 joined the National Research Institute in Washington, DC.
Germany was notorious for its use of chemical warfare during the First World War, and Adams worked to develop chemical warfare protection and anti-war measures. Ironically, he made use of the chemistry he had learned in Germany to help the war effort against Germany.
The beginning of Adams' cannabis study
In 1939, just two years after cannabis was outlawed in the US, Adams received a license from the Ministry of Finance (responsible for the subject at the time) to work with cannabis oil in his laboratory. A little later he presented the National Academy of Sciences with a groundbreaking article entitled "The Chemistry of Marijuana".
That same year, World War II broke out, and even though the United States did not go to war until 1941, the US defense establishment has already begun to show interest in Adams' cannabis research.
In the 1940, he was appointed to the National Security Council, but then FBI chief J. Edgar Hoover suspected he was a communist because he was involved in "left-wing activism" and therefore delayed his appointment by several months.
Adams' "leftist activity" was in fact a member of the Lincoln Council for Democracy and Intellectual Freedom, an organization of scientists who worked to refute Nazi racial theory.
In 1942, the Office for Strategic Services, which became the CIA after the war, used Adams' research to try to develop a "truth drug." The American security services used cannabis as a "real truth" throughout World War II in an attempt to discover traitors and spies. American soldiers were interrogated under the influence of cannabis, as well as atomic scientists who worked on the Manhattan Project, the secret atom project of the United States.
In the end, however, Cannabis did not turn out to be a particularly effective 'truth meter', and the effort to find 'truth drug' shifted to focusing on other drugs.
The new illegal status of cannabis has made Adams's research controversial. The esteemed chemist was attacked in public not once by the most prominent cannabis opponent of those days - Harry J. Anslinger.
Anslinger, who headed the US Narcotics Bureau, was one of the most prominent cannabis opponents in US history and the man who did the most to get the cannabis outlawed.
Adams's research was conducted under the supervision of the Federal Narcotics Bureau, and Wanslinger did not like him to say the least because he perceived him as "too zealous" for the cannabis plant.
When Anslinger heard that Adams was telling people about the "pleasant effects of using the drug," he attacked him publicly: "I think this drug is bad for human consumption and so should be presented," he preached.
Adams isolates the CBD and synthesizes CBN and THC derivatives for the first time
From a scientific point of view, some of Adams' most important achievements came from his cannabis study at the beginning of the 40, when he first discovered cannabinoids cannabinoids from the cannabis plant and first synthesized cannabinoid cannabinol (CBN) and tetrahydrocannabinol derivatives - Isomer Delta - 9 his familiar to us today.
In 1942 it has been approved for request patent For its method of isolating CBD from the plant, as well as for methods of synthesized THC by altering the molecular structure of CBD and CBN.
Adams was looking for the psychoactive cannabinoid in the plant, he knew he was there and knew more or less how his molecule was built-but could not find it. Professor Meshulam is the one who first identified the delta-9-THC and isolated it from the cannabis plant at the Hebrew University of Jerusalem at 1964.
But Adams did artificially create other derivatives of THC in his laboratory 20 a year earlier, and also hair that any derivative of THC is the one that gives the plant its psychoactive effect. Meshulam confirmed Adams' hypothesis by using nuclear magnetic resonance.
After finishing his job purging Nazi ideology from the German Academy after World War II, Adams returned to the United States, where he remained until his death at 1971. In 1958, a year after he retired, the American Chemical Society began to award the prestigious Roger Adams Prize for outstanding chemists.
Adams also developed the Adams Ladder - a scale to measure the power of cannabinoids, which has been used by researchers to date. Although the medicinal effects of CBD were discovered only decades later, Adams noted his effect as an analgesic in the 40.
Roger Adams risked his career and role countless times for his cannabis research and political principles, and fought for science in an era of ignorance and intolerance.