Highlights from the 2018 Cannabis Science Conference
Conference organizer Joshua Crossney provides a brief overview of the key take away messages presented at the 2018 Cannabis Science Conference.
The 2018 Cannabis Science Conference commenced with a sold out Canna Boot Camp at Chalice Farms on Monday, August 27, which was hosted by 13 companies. Attendees rotated through five zones, covering everything from cultivation and genomics to milling, extractions, sample preparation, analysis, and edibles manufacturing. Participants were thrilled to see actor and comedian Jim Belushi working alongside Dr. Sue Sisley at the Boot Camp. Dr. Scott Kuzdzal, Vice President of Marketing at Shimadzu, elaborated on this year’s preconference workshop, saying it was a huge success. “The Canna Boot Camp has grown so large that all of us vendors are already considering new opportunities to improve the event for next year, including travel to a cannabis cultivation site and optional tracks on analytical techniques with a greater focus on education, not demonstrations,” he said.
On the opening day of the conference, throngs of attendees amassed at the registration counters and gathered for the analytical track’s keynote address by Dr. Dedi Meiri of the Technion Institute in Israel. This keynote, as well as the one delivered by Dr. Ethan Russo of the International Cannabis and Cannabinoids Institute on Wednesday, set a tone of inspiration and accomplishment that together we are advancing cannabis science in an impactful way. Dr. Meiri described recent advances in profiling the phytocannabinoid compositions of differing cannabis strain varieties that are used for clinical purposes, and also explained how this diversity of compounds affects the outcomes of cannabis-based treatments.
Attendees compared notes on “must-see” sessions and split their time between presentations within the analytical, medical, and cultivation tracks. Presentation after presentation and panel after panel, the excitement level and information sharing grew to a very powerful buzz that permeated the meeting rooms and exhibition floor. “There was an amazing energy level at this year’s show, a coming together of medical, analytical, and cannabis experts that felt like an extended cannabis family,” said Tracy Ryan, a keynote speaker from the medical track. Ryan’s talk delved into her journey from mother to CEO of Cannakids and SavingSophie.org.
On Tuesday afternoon, the analytical track room filled for a phenomenal plenary address entitled, “My Journey from Cancer to Cannabis” by television and film star Fran Drescher. Drescher explained her journey pre-stardom, through her celebrity with The Nanny to her battle with, and defeating of, uterine cancer. As she told her story, she quickly came to key messages that resonated with the entire Cannabis Science Conference congress: Rather than focus on a cure for cancer, we should be looking at the causes of cancer and work to systematically eliminate them. She explained how causation of chronic, long term inflammation is the name of the game, stating that how we live equals how we feel. We must each work to eliminate the toxins by detoxifying the environments that we live in, starting with our homes.
Drescher also explained that the cause of cannabis prohibition was big business greed that went to Washington with deep pockets to protect their petroleum and plastic based interests. “All these years that we could have been evaluating the efficacy of cannabis as a medicinal got lost, and now, only now, can we begin to really start understanding the versatility and the miracle of this plant,” she said.
Drescher’s final message was clear: We as consumers ultimately have great power and we are at a great precipice of a new dawn in human history. This is a new frontier, and everybody wants in on the big, gold rush in cannabis. “Wherever there is opportunity, there are opportunists. Where there is capital, there’s capitalists,” she explained. “And where there is greed, there is irresponsibility, there is a lack of vision, there is lack of planning, there is lack of respect for the user, the plant, and the planet. And if how we live equals how we feel, and this plant can help support our bodies to feel better, then it is up to us to ensure that this plant is organic, grown in healthy soil, under the sun with the fresh air-a happy, healthy, organic plant!”
A lot of people are compromising that vision for a healthy plant, and Drescher declared that it is up to us, the customer, to make sure that what we ask for, what we buy, what we grow, what we manufacture, and what we present to the American public is not echoing the mistakes of the industrialists of the last century. We must all see ourselves in this bigger responsibility and that how you live equals how you feel. “This is too special a moment, this is too precious a gift from God-a miracle plant,” she said. “Don’t disrespect it, don’t disrespect the planet, don’t disrespect the planet by going low, go high!”
There were too many highlights to summarize here. But some of my personal favorite sessions from the analytical track were Dr. Sue Sisley’s (Scottsdale Research Institute) moving presentation entitled, “From Pills to Pot: Data on Cannabis for Chronic Pain and Use by Professional Athletes.” Dr. Sisley explained how cannabis can help professional athletes escape the horrendous jaws of prescription opiates. Dr. Ethan Russo delivered a tour de force, educational keynote titled “Making Cannabis Better and Safer.” Reggie Gaudino, PhD, (Steep Hill) delivered an overview of the various gene networks associated with cannabinoid and terpene production, explaining the current status of the understanding of these networks. Furthermore, several expert technical presentations from speakers representing the University of Texas at Arlington, Columbia Food Labs, Advion, Shimadzu, Eden Labs, Phylos Bioscience, the Maryland Medical Cannabis Commission, Agilent, PerkinElmer, and Millipore Sigma were balanced with interactive panel discussions and emotional stories shared by professional athletes in the always popular, “Doc & Jocks” panel moderated by Dr. Uma Dhanabalan.
With approximately 3000 attendees, 150 companies, and 90+ poster presentations on the exhibit floor, the exhibit hall reached maximum density during the Tuesday evening mixer sponsored by Shimadzu. It was a dream come true to see cannabis experts, medical professionals, analytical scientists, as well as patients, professional athletes, and curious novices come together to advance cannabis science. It was refreshing to see so much emphasis on pushing the boundaries of cannabis science, and to hear about so many people collaborating in new ways.
There were many great talks in the cultivation track, including a very entertaining presentation on “Bio Harmonic Cultivation: Growing with Therapeutic Intention” delivered by John Easterling of Happy Tree Microbes. “Amazon John” as he is known to his friends, detailed how he transitioned from an adventurous, young treasure seeker in Peru to developing an understanding of harmonic fields in the grow environment, with Amazonian botanicals to educate bacteria in the soil and a focus on allowing the plant to express itself at its fullest therapeutic value.
There were also many other great surprises, including a specially added closing cultivation keynote by Ed Rosenthal that described what may very well be the future of cannabis cultivation-a landrace Moroccan variety common in the Rif Mountains of North Africa that grows only a single stem and could be used in a breeding program to develop plants especially adapted for the “sea of green” method.
The medical track also featured many amazing moments, including panels devoted to patient perspectives, including one focused on treating pediatric patients, and a return of the “International Cannabis Updates” panel, hosted by Sharlene Mavor, Director of the nonprofit Medical Cannabis Research Australia, with panelists Sandra Paola Santander Gonzalez, PhD, (Colombia), Dedi Meiri, PhD, (Israel), Paul Mavor, B. Pharm, (Australia), Dr. Ellen Campbell Grizzle, (Jamaica), and Wolfgang Simon (Germany). Medical Track keynotes were delivered by Bonni Goldstein, MD, (Medical Director, Canna Centers) and Tracy Ryan (CEO & Founder, CannaKids and Saving Sophie).
A highlight of the Medical Track was a presentation by Rylie Maedler of Rylie’s Smile Foundation titled “A Pediatric Medical Patient’s Fight to Live Normal.” Wanting other children and herself to have legal access to this healing plant, Maedler fought for legalization of pediatric medical cannabis in Delaware. Her perspective on a child’s rights has since helped her change several more laws that give better access for pediatric patients. Hearing Maedler’s story and viewpoint gave all attendees a new perspective on a pediatric cannabis patient’s fight.
In closing, I’d like to thank everyone involved in making the 2018 Cannabis Science Conference a success. Coming together was a beginning, keeping together is progress, working together is success, and growing together is our mission! CSC 2019 will be held from September 4–6 at the Oregon Convention Center in Portland.
Joshua Crossney is the columnist and editor of “Cannabis Crossroads” and a contributing editor to Cannabis Science and Technology magazine. Crossney is also the president and CEO of CSC Events. Direct correspondence to: firstname.lastname@example.org
J. Crossney, Cannabis Science and Technology1(3), 51-52 (2018).