I noticed over in the USA, there was a growing movement, that saw crowds of people marching the streets in the name of legalizing cannabis. People were advocating for the use of cannabis plants for medical use, that had helped them to overcome their AIDS symptoms. So, I returned to university to look for any publications I could find about the subject of cannabis. In my search, I found to my surprise, over 1000 articles on the topic.
I had to know more, so I contacted and spoke to professors and neurologists about the effects of cannabis – but unfortunately, no one knew anything about the subject. This only increased my interest and curiosity, and lead me to question, why the endocannabinoid system; one of the most important systems in the body: one that regulates the immune system and impacts sleep, was not taught to medical students? And why, despite all the literature that existed on the subject, was it not discussed in universities?
For me cannabis wasn’t a big deal, it didn’t have the stigma that many others had about it. I grew up in Denmark where it was widely accepted by society; where since 1970, we’ve had a city called Christiania where cannabis has been sold openly in small shops. So ingrained was my cannabis acceptance, that it was even in my family roots: my great grandparents grew hemp and were even famous for providing and pressing hemp seeds for neighbouring farmers before the UN made it illegal globally.
After looking into the subject, I applied for a license for the research and development of hemp with THC in Denmark. I was interested in investigating how cannabis grew, and to investigate the different cannabinoids that existed within it.
To give you a bit of background on Danish law: it is legal to grow hemp if it is for medicinal use or research purposes. So, the Government took my application and sent it from one department to another; always telling me that I would get a reply soon. After a lengthy process and a lot of waiting. I received the result of my application: it was unsuccessful. So after two years of wasted time on applications, I embarked on another approach.
Even though unsuccessful, the application process did have one benefit: my knowledge of cannabis was expanding rapidly. I was now aware that there were other non- psychoactive cannabinoids present in the cannabis plant. That were delivering even more promising results than that of the psychoactive nature of THC.
I started to research and experiment more by growing different types of hemp plants, that contained little-to-no THC so I could grow them without a license. In Europe, hemp without THC had been legal to grow since 1997, so this was my starting point which lead me to the cannabinoid CBD.
During my research days I spent hours trawling the university archives, I found studies from 1982 where CBD had been trialled on epilepsy patients and had displayed promising results. I continued to experiment and I was able to breed a variety of hemp that contained enough CBD, but at the same time contained all the other macromolecules that were present in the original hemp plant.
As time went on, I grew frustrated with the social climate in Denmark and I could see how the pharmaceutical companies were working with governments to prevent wonderful, harmless, natural solutions to illnesses. A natural alternative to the established pharmaceutical drugs was being limited and controlled.
“I have always believed that if something can save a human life, whilst causing no other harm, then it is our responsibility as scientists to give people the option.“