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The History Of Cannabinoid Research (Short Overview Of The First 66 Years Of Medicinal Research)

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Cannabinoid pharmacology: the first 66 years

Roger G. Pertwee

School of Medical Sciences, Institute of Medical Sciences, University of Aberdeen, Foresterhill, Aberdeen AB25 2ZD


Research into the pharmacology of individual cannabinoids that began in the 1940s, several decades

after the presence of a cannabinoid was first detected in cannabis, is concisely reviewed. Also described

is how this pharmacological research led to the discovery of cannabinoid CB1 and CB2 receptors and

of endogenous ligands for these receptors, to the development of CB1- and CB2-selective agonists and

antagonists and to the realization that the endogenous cannabinoid system has significant roles in

both health and disease, and that drugs which mimic, augment or block the actions of endogenously

released cannabinoids must have important therapeutic applications. Some goals for future research

are identified.


British Journal of Pharmacology (2006) 147, S163–S171. doi:10.1038/sj.bjp.0706406




This short nine page peer reviewed paper discusses:


Early research into the pharmacology of cannabinoids

The discovery of cannabinoid receptors

The discovery of endogenous cannabinoids

The development and pharmacological characterization of cannabinoid receptor ligands

The endocannabinoid system in health and disease

Clinical strategies

Future directions


Learning about the history of cannabinoid research is a good way of becoming familiar with terms and concepts that are required for comprehending current research.

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