Highlights from Canna Pharma 2022: Driving Cannabis Science and Therapeutics Forward

The 2022 Canna Pharma Conference was held October 12-13 in San Diego, California.

In San Diego, California, presenters, attendees, and others in the cannabis industry gathered from October 12-13, 2022 at Canna Pharma 2022 to share current strategies and knowledge to move cannabis science and medicine forward. The two-day conference featured nearly two dozen presentations, poster presentations, and opportunities for networking, including a post-conference mixer. Here we present highlights from each presentation at the event.

A half day pre-conference workshop led by Charlotte Peyton on October 11th, an independent consultant from EAS Consulting Group, instructed attendees on an overview of good manufacturing practices (GMP) in the cannabis industry, including expectations and compliance requirements to help employees stay on top of critical quality and safety issues.

Plenary keynote speaker Stephen Goldner, Esq., CEO and Chair of Pure Green Pharmaceuticals, gave an overview of methods to decentralize clinical trials in cannabis medical research. Using a recent proof-of-concept study involving cannabidiol (CBD), Goldner presented a detail-rich explanation of the clinical, scientific, business, and legal approaches to decentralized clinical trials; the challenges and benefits; and how they can become commercial and professional opportunities.

Dr. Ethan Russo, Founder and CEO of CReDO Science, gave an in-depth exploration of two minor yet important cannabinoids in his presentation “Cannabigerol (CBG) and Tetrahydrocannabivarin (THCV): Sources of Novel Cannabis Therapeutics.” Dr. Russo explained the genetics of the two cannabinoids, compared their mechanisms and roles to other cannabinoids’, plus explained the therapeutic potential of CBG for treatment of anxiety, pain, primary cancer treatment and antibiotic-resistant bacterial infections, and the potential of THCV for treating obesity, metabolic syndrome, Type II diabetes mellitus, and drug addiction. He also gave an overview of past and recent studies on these cannabinoids in humans. Following Dr. Russo’s presentation, Hunter Land presented “Active Pharmaceutical Ingredients: Strategic Considerations for Cannabinoid Development,” in which he explained the benefits of synthetic and biosynthetic production of cannabinoids versus extraction and explored their development as medicines.

Medical topics were covered in several more presentations as well. Marilyn Barrett, PhD, gave an in-depth explanation of the proof-of-concept study that Stephen Goldner had mentioned in his talk. In “Diabetic Neuropathic Pain Decreased Upon Coadministration of CBD and PEA,” Dr. Barrett explained how cannabis-derived medicine can be an opportunity for both patients and the pharmaceutical industry. She explained the details of the randomized, double-blind, placebo-controlled trial, including the patient selection process, dosing, endpoints, and treatment period, then analyzed the results. In “Case Studies: Identification of Minimum Essential Therapeutic Mixtures from Cannabis Plant Extracts by Screening in Cell and Animal Models,” Andrea Small-Howard, PhD, explained the rationale behind patients using essential compounds rather than whole plant extracts. Dr. Small-Howard gave an explanation of three case studies using cannabis components to examine the potential for treatment of conditions such as Parkinson’s disease, chronic pain, and inflammation. For a global perspective, S. Zev Barnett explained in his presentation, “Hemp Derived Medicine: The Need for Fast Global Adoption,” how cannabis could improve healthcare in the US, using examples and personal stories. He also gave an overview of a large trial study of CBD and its implications for further study.

Chairperson Monica Taing from Holistic Industries moderated a panel discussion and audience Q&A on industry regulation and practice. The three panelists were Lori Dodson, Maryland Medical Cannabis Commission, Heather Krug, Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment, and Susan Audino, PhD. The panel answered questions from the audience on topics such as how to ensure laboratory competency, laboratory shopping, vape testing requirements, delta 8 regulations, and what federal oversight on state regulations could look like. Dr. Audino also gave a separate, in-depth presentation titled “The Triangulation (Or Strangulation) Consuming Cannabis-Testing Laboratories” which explained the issues currently restricting cannabis laboratories.

In a spotlight on technology, two presentations covered improving bioavailability and formulation challenges. In her presentation titled “Overcoming Formulation Challenges of Cannabinoids,” Inayet Dumanli-Ellis, PhD, explained methods of drug delivery modalities and covered topics such as the development of oral THC and CBD self-emulsifying formulations and improving the stability of cannabinoids in lipid vehicles. In “Emerging Formulation Technologies for Pharmaceutical Applications of Cannabinoids,” Andreas Papas, PhD, explained the role of formulation technologies on solubility, stability and enhanced absorption, and bioavailability of cannabinoids, plus examples of commercial applications in product formats.

Two presentations explored the legal interests in the cannabis industry nationally and globally. Scheril Murray Powell, Esq. gave a talk titled “Managing Consumer Protections while Growing a Robust Inclusive Cannabis Space,” in which she elaborated on the need for industry standards to protect consumers and the JUSTÜS Foundation’s work in assisting legacy cannabis companies with integration. Dale Hunt, Esq. presented “Navigating IP Opportunities and Risk in Cannabis – What Everyone in the R&D Business Should Know,” and explained what companies can and cannot do with patents and why.

Several presentations covered the cannabis industry in Canada. Presenting virtually were Andrew Waye, PhD, and Sophie-Anne Lamour, PhD, both from Health Canada. Dr. Waye presented “An Overview of Chemical and Microbial Contaminant Requirements for Cannabis Products in Canada,” and explained supply chain regulation, quality control, and integration with existing frameworks. Expanding on these topics, Dr. Lamour presented “A Risk-based Framework to Facilitate Non-therapeutic Research on Cannabis in Humans in Canada,” in which she explained current regulations and the benefits to the proposed framework changes. Karolina Urban, PhD, presented “Advancing the Potential Use and Efficacy of Cannabinoid-based Medicine,” which explained what factors contribute to the current mixed results of cannabinoid-based medicine and what research is being done. Presentations and audience questions included comparisons to the United States’ cannabis industry.

Other presentations covered various topics such as the importance of cleaning procedures for all cannabis equipment as explained by Michael Moussourakis in his presentation “Critical Cleaning: the Key to Quality and Safety;” an argument for choosing mass spectrometry over ultraviolet (UV) detection presented by Anthony Macherone, PhD, in his talk “Why Are We Using Non-Selective UV Detectors for Regulatory Cannabinoid Profiling and Agency Testing?”; an explanation of the various benefits of cannabis tissue culture as presented by Hope Jones in “Tissue Culture Techniques;” and an explanation of the FDA’s “Cannabis and Cannabis-Derived Compounds: Quality Considerations for Clinical Research” draft guidance as presented by Nandu Sarma, PhD, in his talk “Quality Considerations for Cannabis Clinical Research.”