Cannabis Science Conference Spring 2024: Interview with Keynote Speakers Allison Justice, PhD and Riley Kirk, PhD

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Columns | <b>Cannabis Voices</b>

Drs. Allison Justice and Riley Kirk share a preview of their research project that will be presented at Cannabis Science Conference Spring 2024.

As keynote speakers for Cannabis Science Conference Spring 2024, Drs. Allison Justice and Riley Kirk will take us on a deep dive into their multiyear study, the Science of Smokeability (SOS), a multiphase experiment into the variables that contribute to the cannabis smoking experience. Dr. Justice conducts photobiology research and co-founded the Hemp Mine, an innovative hemp farm and product manufacturer. Dr. Kirk is a natural product chemist with a PhD in pharmaceutical sciences. She previously presented on ongoing cannabis education and psychedelics at Cannabis Science Conference Fall 2023.

Check out the video, read a partial transcript below, and register here for Cannabis Science Conference Spring 2024! See you in Kansas City, Missouri May 7–9, 2024!


Here, Dr. Kirk explains details of their study:

Riley Kirk: So it's the science of smokeability. It's something that our industry has needed for a really long time. And as Dr. Justice was saying, this isn't just one experiment. This is going to be like a 20-30 part experiment where we're looking at these different variables that really contribute to the smoking experience, and also help explain why so many people, especially medical patients, prefer smoking over other consumption methods.

I think the group that's working on this project, Science of Smokeability, is the perfect group of people. There's a lot of medical doctors or physicians or maybe other researchers that would look at smoking and say, “That's objectively bad for you. Don't do it.” Right? Period. That's it. People are still going do it, and they're always going to do it because it feels better, and it works better for them. So we're not trying to say, “hey, you should smoke or you should not smoke.” We're trying to say, what is so unique about the smoking experience specifically for really good flower? How can we cultivate a really good product and make that smoking experience a very positive experience from the feelings, but also reduce the amount of harm entering your body by understanding if there are cultivation metrics, or if there are drying cure metrics that can allow for a healthier product to be produced so that when the smoke enters your body, it's not producing a lot of the harmful compounds, more of the beneficial compounds, and then we can start to kind of delve into like what that chemistry is. Once we learn that chemistry, we can dive into this way deeper if we want to, but it's really just about learning more about the smoking experience because our industry has not done any of this really baseline fundamental research in understanding from plant to smoke entering the body, what is happening on a biochemical level? What is happening with these different molecules? Are there different levels of transformation happening? And can consumers actually pick up on these little nuances? Or can they not? So we're going to learn a lot about the palettes of consumers as well.

Each study is probably going to have a different number of participants. But I don't think we're going to have any trouble getting people to participate in the study. The first video we put out saying, “Hey, we're looking for people to participate,” got so much attention that we're already closing phase one, and moving on to recruiting for phase two of the study, because, you know, we only can accept so many people into each phase. So I'm most excited about how excited other people are for this research. Because really talented cultivators like Dr. Justice here, she knows that some flower smoke is really, really good, it feels really good. Consumers know this too. And then some flower is harsh, it hurts, it burns hotter, there's differences in the feeling, and in the chemicals that are present in these different experiences. And we're trying to dive into the nuance of what makes a quality smokeable product.