The discovery of cannabinoids

To date , more than 100 unique cannabinoids have been discovered. Some of these molecules have revolutionized the landscape of cannabis science, while others remain relatively unknown.

Today we want to take a look at the historical moment when the most famous cannabinoids were discovered, and the people who are credited with these discoveries. Stay with us because it will surely surprise you.


CBN (1899)

To the surprise of many, CBN, or cannabinol, was the first cannabinoid to be isolated. Thomas Wood, WT Spivery, and Thomas Easterfield made this groundbreaking discovery in 1899, identifying the molecule from a sample of charas, a type of hand-crafted marijuana resin. After creating an extract of the sample with ethanol, they subjected it to fractional distillation, produced a viscous oil and after carrying out acetylation, they discovered CBN.

However, cannabis plants do not generate CBN through enzymatic processes. Actually this cannabinoid is the result of THC degradation. So it seems that the research team could have been working with old samples in which the THC had already broken down.


CBD (1942)

American chemist Roger Adams isolated CBD (cannabidiol) for the first time in 1942. He extracted this cannabinoid (famous today throughout the world) from wild hemp flowers from Minnesota. Adams carried out an ethanol extraction to create a "red oil" and subjected the substance to low-pressure distillation, isolating the cannabidiol from the mixture of compounds.

More than 20 years later, in 1963, researchers made another important discovery regarding CBD: the molecular structure of the cannabinoid. Raphael Mechoulam, an organic chemist and professor at the Hebrew University of Jerusalem, was the author of this very important finding .


CBG (1964)


Raphael Mechoulam and Yehial Gaoni joined forces in 1963 to pursue cannabis research for the next four years. In 1964, the pair of scientists set out to investigate the pathways of cannabinoid biosynthesis in the marijuana plant and very soon solved the missing link problem:

they identified CBGA as the cannabinoid precursor to other chemicals.

CBG (cannabigerol) comes from the cannabinoid acid CBGA, which plays a key role in cannabinoid biosynthesis.


THC (1964)

THC produces most of the psychoactive effects associated with cannabis. Shortly after discovering CBG, Mechoulam and Gaoni cracked the code and identified and isolated THC. (delta-9-tetrahydrocannabinol) in 1964.

The duo proceeded to synthesize THC for the first time in 1965, and again in 1967. Despite the great success, Mechoulam attributes his discoveries to turn-of-the-century cannabis science.



These have been only 4 of the more than 100 known cannabinoids of the marijuana plant. Science has studied them for years but there are still many waiting to be fully analyzed.

Who knows how many mysteries to discover cannabis science will bring us in the future. For the present you can always buy CBD online at La Catalana CBD.

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