Let’s meet CSC Fall speaker Adam Jacques, a world-renowned expert with more than 20 years’ experience cultivating various unique strains of cannabis.
Cannabis Science Conference (CSC) Fall will be taking place in Providence, Rhode Island September 20-22nd. CSC Fall features several exciting tracks: analytical science, cultivation, medical cannabis, and psychedelics. With expert speakers coming in from around the country, we thought it was a great opportunity to introduce some of them and get a sneak peek into their presentations. Let’s meet Adam Jacques, a world-renowned expert with more than 20 years of experience cultivating unique strands of cannabis. Having developed more than 300 high-CBD strains of cannabis, Adam has established himself as the foremost expert on CBD genetics and was recognized as the most influential person in the Northwest and Canadian cannabis industry in 2016 by CannAwards. Adam is participating as a speaker on an exciting fireside chat in the Cultivation Track General Session at the upcoming Cannabis Science Conference Fall titled “Industry Answers with Adam Jacques,” taking place September 21st in Providence, Rhode Island. Here, Adam shares his background in cannabis cultivation, his passion for learning, and a preview of what to expect from his exciting fireside chat!
Can you tell us about your background and how you got involved with cultivation and the cannabis industry?
Adam Jacques: I started, kind of, my love affair with cannabis as a teenager. When I was a teenager, it was a much different time, right? So, like 1994 is probably when I used cannabis for the first time. I'm a neurodiverse individual, and back then, there wasn't a lot of knowledge surrounding that, you were either a kid that was a troublemaker or you weren't. I found, when I used cannabis, it really dialed in my brain and allowed me to focus. I was using cannabis for medical purposes without understanding that I was using it for medical purposes, and that went on through college. I did quite well.
What really started it all was that college was expensive and I was poor, so I started growing cannabis for myself at home. It was very difficult to get any new varieties of cannabis because it wasn't necessarily legal, and they just weren't around. So, I taught myself that you can breed cannabis. When I was around 23 or 24, I started breeding my own cannabis strains, looking to make them in a specific way or to make a strain in a way that I needed for me, personally, medically. I would say that's kind of where I started. It started from a place of trying to treat my own illness, slowly over time. My educational background was not in biology or horticulture. This is all self-taught. After about 30 years, I'm okay at it now. But it started from a point of necessity. There wasn't really anybody serving medical patients. There was no real good information out there, everything was hearsay and pseudoscience and things of that nature. So, it was difficult to find any real help or answers. After I was working with myself for a while, I found a group here in Eugene, Oregon that was kind of clandestine, but they were doing work with medical patients, specifically cancer patients at that time. I got involved with them, donating my time, knowledge, and cannabis and genetics to them, and that kind of started my road down this medical cannabis track that I've been on.
I enjoy learning a lot. I would say that the majority of my free time is spent teaching myself things. It was a lot harder back in the day. There was not as much information as there is now, like online and things like that, but libraries existed, and they had a lot of good books on plants. I like to think that I kind of grew up with the industry. I came in at a very interesting time in the industry. Marijuana had just become medically legal in Oregon, which opened up a huge opportunity for me where I wasn't worried about getting arrested for growing plants in my house. I kind of just hit all the timing perfectly.
There were some people with DEA licenses in Kentucky growing cannabis, but there weren’t really any universities doing major studies on cannabis or looking at molecules. The most important thing to me with cannabis was that I know that it works, right? I knew that it worked, I knew it was working, I knew it was doing what I needed, but I didn't know why. And that drove me crazy. So, I spent, and I have been spending the past 20-30 years trying to answer that why. Why does cannabis affect people in the way that it does? Why does it affect everybody differently? What are the important constituents? If you do, let's say a delta-9-THC isolate, you're going to get a really generic effect. But it is pretty normal between everyone. Now you start adding in different cannabinoids, terpenes, flavonoids, things of that nature, and it seems like every addition creates a dynamic to the medicine that we're using that changes the effect or what we use it for. So, trying to understand the whole picture of cannabis instead of breaking it down to THC is the drug and everything else is a waste product, which I think is terrible. Whole plant medicine has been kind of my focus. I've had a lot of help through the university systems, at this point, specifically working with Dr. Zac Hildenbrand, who I'll be talking with at the conference. I met him in 2015 at a science conference and we instantly connected— we're like brothers now. But we've been working with the University of Texas system, looking at a lot of different things and flavonoids and terpenes, and what we would call lesser cannabinoids. It's been great—very interesting journey I've been on.
What are you most looking forward to at the Cannabis Science Conference Fall Show in 2023?
Jacques: I have not done a conference since COVID. Before that I was doing 7 to 8 conferences a year, speaking at a bunch of random places. I think the last conference I did was Spannabis. So, I went and spoke at Spannabis, and then, I was supposed to go back again, and it was about two days before I left and they started shutting down flights out of Europe back to the US, and thought it seemed like a bad idea. Since then, I haven't done a single conference, so I haven't really been involved in the community much as a speaker in the past couple of years. I've spent a lot of time off of social media. I felt like social media got a bit toxic over COVID. I kind of locked myself in my grow and my lab for a couple of years, which ended up having some amazing outcomes, but, I missed the people in the industry. I missed having genuine conversations with others about this plant that has pretty much taken over my entire life. So, I think the most exciting thing about for me is the exchange of information with others. I think that that's what I'm most excited about. I'm excited to see everybody that's speaking and things like that. One of my buddies, Jeff Lowenfels, who's going to be there, does the living soil tracks and stuff, I love watching him anytime he's around. I've already absorbed his books. But he's a lot of fun. Zac's a lot of fun. I know Christian West is coming as well, and they're going to do the Canna Boot Camp, which I think is very interesting, so I'll probably make myself involved in that as well because I like that kind of stuff. But, yeah, people—I'm excited to see people.
The biggest strides I make in what I do is because of conversations with others, right? New ideas, new thoughts, different ways of looking at things, and you can get a lot done trapped in your little cave by yourself, but it really takes the whole community coming together to really figure things out.
What interested you in working with CBD genetics, and do you work with other cannabinoids and terpenes?
Adam Jacques: I started working with CBD genetics because of a gentleman named Frank, who is a close personal friend of mine. Frank had cancer, and he was getting some oil made for him that was just high THC and he could not focus during the day. It was just this constant usage of THC that was making his life uncomfortable. In 2014, I started doing some research. This was pre-Stanley Brothers, so CBD genetics really weren't being talked about. I started doing some research and found some old research from a group in Brazil in the 1970s that was looking at CBD as a treatment for epileptic seizures. I found out that hemp was the highest carrier of CBD. So, by finding hemp genetics and breeding those with higher percentage things then was able to create—I won't go into the science of how breeding works because we will be here forever—but I found that I could create genetics that were rich in both THC and CBD. While doing that, I also found out how CBD and THC work with the CB connectors and how you actually are going to get less of a psychological effect if you mix the two. THC fits perfectly in that receptor, CBD gums it up a little bit. We were having this effect where I was able to push more and more THC into a system as long as I was tempering that with CBD. I created a genetic then called “Frank's Gift,” which was a 3 to 1, test it out at like 30% total cannabinoids, it was huge at the time, and we used that with him.
We started working on extraction methodologies at that point. This was right at the infancy of CO2 extraction. We got one of the Waters machines. I was working with Frank and trying to get him less high by developing these genetics. He started using them and we used them thoroughly and he went into complete remission from cancer. I was like, “Wow, this seems great.” Frank was a fairly well-off individual and he said, “I want to fund anything that you want to do to help people like you helped me.” At that point, I kind of had a ticket to create and learn, so then I just started going down this rabbit hole of CBD breeding. But it was another case of kind of trying to figure out something through necessity that ended up helping lots of people in the long term.
Can you tell us a little bit about the fireside chat you're going to be having with Zac Hildenbrand called “Industry Answers with Adam Jacques?” What are you hoping attendees will learn from the discussion?
Jacques: Without sounding full of myself, I think I have a lot of information that is valuable to share with people and to break that into one discussion seemed difficult for me. I could come and teach genetics, or I could come and teach living soil growing or medicine or compounding or whatever. I think that people that want to come and visit me can ask very pointed, very specific questions and get very pointed, very specific answers from me on things that may be challenging for them or issues they may have. Or maybe they want insight on the industry or marketing insight or something like that, I've been successful in this industry for quite a long time, so I just think that I have a lot of information that's difficult to box into one topic. I'm hoping that people come and get valuable answers to their most pressing questions about cannabis that they've been having difficulties finding good answers for.
Stay tuned for more with Adam Jacques with our live video conference coverage taking place September 21-22, 2023 or join us in person to hear Adam and Zac’s fireside chat discussion as well as many others at the Cannabis Science Conference Fall in Providence, RI. Register today with code EARLYBIRD to save 30%: https://bit.ly/3pIBuJp!