National Geographic on weed


Just the cover of National Geographic's marijuana issue generated quite a buzz (rimshot) when posted here last week. Hampton Sides' cover story is a deep look at the science of weed with a focus on how, as Hebrew University chemist Raphael Mechoulam puts it, marijuana is a “medicinal treasure trove waiting to be discovered."

From National Geographic:


Israel has one of the world’s most advanced medical marijuana programs. Mechoulam played an active role in setting it up, and he’s proud of the results. More than 20,000 patients have a license to use cannabis to treat such conditions as glaucoma, Crohn’s disease, inflammation, appetite loss, Tourette’s syndrome, and asthma.

Despite that, he’s not particularly in favor of legalizing cannabis for recreational use. He doesn’t think anyone should go to jail for possessing it, but he insists that marijuana is “not an innocuous substance”—especially for young people. He cites studies showing that the prolonged use of high-THC strains of marijuana can change the way the developing brain grows. He notes that in some people cannabis can provoke serious and debilitating anxiety attacks. And he points to studies that suggest cannabis may trigger the onset of schizophrenia among those who have a genetic predisposition to the disease.

If he had his way, what Mechoulam regards as the often irresponsible silliness of recreational pot culture would give way to an earnest and enthusiastic embrace of cannabis—but only as a medical substance to be strictly regulated and relentlessly researched. “Right now,” he complains, “people don’t know what they’re getting. For it to work in the medical world, it has to be quantitative. If you can’t count it, it’s not science.”

"Science Seeks to Unlock Marijuana’s Secrets"

(top photo by Lynn Johnson)

Notable Replies

  1. dobby says:

    We have friends in Jerusalem who were able to get legal cannabis for epilepsy which was refractory and actually intensified by the Dilantin related meds. It took about three weeks for her four year old boy though it took some cajoling and bullying(justified) the HMO doctors and spending $500 going outside of the public health plan doctors for a second opinion.

  2. ugh says:

    I'm not so sure that is true. But I can tell you one thing, "If you can't count it, it's not science" is not science.

    Anyway, I do believe Nat Geo has been quite stoner-oriented for decades thanks to its photography.

  3. "...he points to studies that suggest cannabis may trigger the onset of
    schizophrenia among those who have a genetic predisposition to the

    According to the scientists in the documentary The Culture High, this is misleading. It's true that latent Schizophrenia can be triggered by a 'precipitating event' which could potentially be cannabis, but it could also be any number of other things, like a death in the family, bad car accident, etc. Also, with a steady rise in the use of cannabis, there is no correlating rise in reported schizophrenia cases. Anyway, even if cannabis did 100% of the time cause latent schizophrenia to manifest, it would still only affect about 1% of the population.

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