Two years ago, in the spring of 2017, I decided to drive across country to attend a medical cannabis conference in Berkeley, California. The timing was perfect because it allowed me to stop in Pueblo, Colorado to attend the inaugural conference of the Institute of Cannabis Research (ICR) at Colorado State University. I was curious about this meeting because the Institute, announced in December 2015, was barely off the ground when the conference was first announced about nine months later. “Mighty ambitious,” I thought.
Then I learned the keynote would be given by Dr. Raphael Mechoulam. I couldn’t believe the legendary “grandfather of cannabis,” already well into his 80s, would travel all the way to Pueblo, Colorado from his home in Israel. Most of his recent “appearances” had been via Skype. But I recall thinking that a University should have great technical equipment and the Skype connection would likely be superb.
I was able to get press credentials after I agreed to do a write up for Cannabis Now Magazine and as I was checking in the registration folks said, “Oh, the press conference has just started.” I hadn’t been told about any press conference but figured I would poke my head in. The room was an amphitheater style classroom and to my utter amazement, sitting on the stage, was the great man himself, Dr. Mechoulam.
For an hour or so Mechoulam fielded questions from an odd assortment of “press.” He was gracious and witty but had the weariness of an old man who had come a long way, which was true both literally and figuratively.
What has stuck with me from that day was his response to a very obvious question: “Dr. Mechoulam, why have you come from Israel to Pueblo, Colorado?!” Mechoulam rather coyly responded, “Well, they asked me.” But then he went on, “When they explained to me what they wanted to accomplish here, an interdisciplinary Institute, I was very interested because I believe that good research requires a team. My best research has been the result of team effort and I did not know of any similar Institute in the U.S. So I wanted to support that and was especially honored when they asked if they could establish an annual Mechoulam Lecture.”
The ICR now has three conferences under its belt and it has been my pleasure to attend each one. It is interesting to watch the growth of this organization. The next few Mary’s Prime Time blogs will cover this year’s meeting in Pueblo. Stay tuned. ❖