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‘Masterclass in Medical Cannabis’ Signals Global Change in Cannabis Opinion

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Masterclass in Medical Cannabis
PHOTO | cendeced
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The global trend in cannabis legalization and acceptance of the plant as medicine took another leap forward recently. New Zealand’s largest medical cannabis firm and the leading British expert in medical cannabis recently joined forces to host a ‘Masterclass in Medical Cannabis’ series to educate local doctors and healthcare professionals about the benefits of incorporating the plant into their prescription.

Professor Mike Barnes, a highly experienced consultant neurologist and the Director of Education for the Academy of Medical Cannabis based in London, and Helius Therapeutics hosted three ‘Masterclass in Medical Cannabis’ events in Auckland, Wellington and Christchurch, the first RNZCGP-endorsed professional training of its kind.

Paul Manning, CEO of Helius believes it is “absolutely critical that New Zealand’s doctors have access to professional training in advance of locally-produced medicinal cannabis products becoming widely available from next year.”

“As the country’s largest medical cannabis firm, I feel it’s incumbent on Helius to invest in educational opportunities for healthcare professionals, in what is a rapidly emerging field of clinical practice,” said Manning.

We sat down with Prof. Barnes and Paul Manning to discuss the importance of education, the global trend of cannabis legalization and their mutual concern of the specialist sign-off requirement that’s recommended in the discussion document on New Zealand’s Medicinal Cannabis Scheme.

Professor Mike Barnes

Professor Mike Barnes

Cannabis Aficionado: Why do you think doctors are so hesitant to prescribe medical cannabis?

Professor Mike Barnes: There are several reasons: lack of knowledge and lack of guidance, also medical cannabis products being unapproved medicines, which means the doctor had to take additional responsibility — so they can be scared of prescribing!

Education is key to informed decision making. In an ideal world, what educational resources would you like medical professionals to have access to?

As many different formats as possible. On-line training, one-day masterclasses like we ran in New Zealand, and written material.

What do you think the most compassionate legal cannabis model looks like?

Wide access to all that may benefit without restriction on conditions that can be treated. Leave it up to the doctor to decide whether its right for that patient (like any other medicine). Allow all doctors (specialists and GPs) to prescribe any GMP standard product.

What parallels do you believe New Zealand has with the U.K. with regards to thoughts around cannabis legalization?

Very similar — general doctor reluctance to be involved — although I felt much more interest than we have in the U.K. That’s for medical cannabis of course. General legalization for recreational use is at about 50:50 split in the U.K. now — similar again to New Zealand.

Have you seen N.Z.’s proposed medical cannabis scheme? If yes, what are your thoughts?

Yes, and it’s generally excellent. The main issue is the proposed prescribing restriction that requires specialist sign off, which is unnecessary. I believe that GPs would make very good prescribers as medical cannabis is mainly a symptom treater and GPs treat the sort of symptoms that cannabis helps all the time, such as chronic pain, anxiety, sleep problems, etc.

What three things do you wish all doctors knew about medical cannabis?

That it is very safe. It is generally different from unregulated cannabis and there is good evidence for several indications.

Any advice for New Zealand moving forward with legalization?

Make medical cannabis products available through GPs without the need for a specialist recommendation. Help all doctors to learn by organizing a range of educational opportunities. And don’t rely on the traditional medical bodies to provide guidance, as they are usually far too conservative – the wrong generation!

Paul Manning, CEO, Helius Therapeutics

Paul Manning, CEO, Helius Therapeutics

Cannabis Aficionado: Why does Helius believe that educating doctors is so important?

Paul Manning: Thousands of suffering New Zealanders will be relying on their GPs for professional advice about medicinal cannabis for a range of therapeutic possibilities, and if appropriate, to access to products on prescription. We strongly believe every Kiwi has a natural right to a pain-free existence.

However, access will not improve unless doctors are well-informed about medical cannabis and how to prescribe the products. Let’s not repeat the mistakes of Australia and the U.K., where doctors were simply unprepared for the changes, causing widespread frustration among patients.

This initiative marked New Zealand’s first RNZCGP-endorsed professional training in medicinal cannabis for doctors on a national scale. It’s a major milestone for our burgeoning medicinal cannabis industry, as well as the healthcare sector.

How did Prof. Barnes become involved?

Mike became widely known after the U.K. Government commissioned him in 2016 to assess evidence for the medical use of cannabis. I had read this report, Cannabis: The Evidence for Medical Use. It helped to change the direction of legislation in the U.K. and acted as a catalyst to the eventual rescheduling of medicinal cannabis in November 2018. He is also the author of more than a dozen books and 200 published papers, several of which have been referenced by our team.

Mike also famously consulted to Alfie Dingley’s case in England, a six-year-old boy who suffers from a rare form epilepsy that was causing up to 150 seizures a month. His seizures have been since dramatically reduced after being given cannabis products. Mike is the Director of Education at The Academy of Medical Cannabis, so I reached out to him about this opportunity.

Did he enjoy himself?

Absolutely. We had an ambitious schedule, to deliver three full-day masterclasses in three cities, so we were flat out, but it was a lot of fun too! I think Mike really liked New Zealand and I know he was very encouraged by the positive response from healthcare professionals down here.

What has the feedback been from attendees?

We had 330 healthcare professionals attend the three masterclasses. The feedback has been fantastic. The majority of attendees were general practitioners. It was a big commitment to join the class for a whole day, and I think this demonstrates just how open-minded many doctors are to medical cannabis.

What is the biggest reason you believe cannabis should be legalized for medical purposes?

Cannabis is an extraordinary, natural treatment for many chronic conditions. These products present alternative to many harsh drugs, such opioids, and can improve the lives of millions of people across the world.

What is one thing you wish people knew about the therapeutic benefits of medical cannabis?

You don’t need to get high to get healthy. Even products that contain THC need not necessarily come with a euphoric effect.

How can the public educate themselves on medical cannabis?

There are some wonderful resources available online, such as Project CBD. There’s a fantastic book by the National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine with the snappy title The Health Effects of Cannabis and Cannabinoids: The Current State of Evidence and Recommendations for Research. We’re also working on a unified repository of the world’s published cannabis research, which will be launched in 2020.

Any plans for more events like this again?

You bet. The Masterclasses in Medical Cannabis were just the start. We’ll be rolling out a program of professional and public education initiatives over the next 24 months. Helius has also just signed a quarter-million dollar commitment with BiotechNZ to stage a major education event in New Zealand early next year.

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Culture

Ricky Williams Flips the Script with new Highsman Brand

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PHOTO | HIGHSMAN

Once scrutinized by sports pundits and fans alike for using cannabis, Ricky Williams, is flipping the script with Highsman — his new cannabis lifestyle brand line of personally curated products.

Created to empower professional and everyday athletes as well as sports enthusiasts alike, Highsman offers premium quality cannabis as well as a collection of apparel and accessories designed to compliment an active lifestyle on and off the field. 

“It is time we change the way we talk about cannabis,” says Williams. “Highsman is about an appreciation for greatness. There is a passionate and dedicated team behind the brand, and together we want to help all people inspire greatness in themselves.” 

Initially offered as pre-packaged eighths, three cultivars have been curated by Williams to compliment moments in the day. Pre-Game is a sativa for an energized boost; Half-Time is a hybrid for focused awareness; and the Post-Game Indica offers a relaxed mood. A line of pre-rolls is currently in development.

Williams brings a deep knowledge of herbs, sports and wellness to the brand. He studied the origins of cannabis in the foothills of the Himalayas and spent years learning about the healing properties of the plant. He credits smoking cannabis as a way of overcoming the challenges associated with being a professional athlete, from social anxiety to physical injuries. 

“Highsman is at the intersection of sports and cannabis and was created for fans and aficionados of both.” says Eric Hammond, CEO. “Years in the making, Highsman launches at a tipping point where sports and cannabis collide, and we are excited to continue to break boundaries between the two.” 

A supporting collection of sports-inspired streetwear varsity jackets and baseball tees and must-have smoking accoutrements — rolling trays, pelican cases, water bottles — are also available. that compliments the Highsman lifestyle.

Highsman cannabis is available at select retailers in California and Oregon and online

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Culture

Stevie Van Zandt Launches Little Steven’s Underground Apothecary, Grown By Iconic Cultivator Chemdog

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Little Steven’s Underground Apothecary
STEVIE VAN ZANDT

Stevie Van Zandt is a founding member of Bruce Springsteen’s E Street Band, Silvio Dante of The Sopranos, a New York Times best selling author and Rock and Roll Hall of Famer — and he’s adding cannabis to his iconic credentials. Van Zandt is getting into the weed game with his eponymous line of pre-rolls under the name Little Steven’s Underground Apothecary. 

The pre-rolls contain high-CBD, low-THC craft cannabis grown by Smash Hits cannabis — Canna Provisions proprietary craft cannabis flower. Van Zandt is certainly in good hands as the Director of Cultivation of Canna Provisions is non-other than legendary grower Chemdog.

Meg Sanders, Canna Provisions CEO, said, “Little Steven wanted to be sure to have an approachable, low-THC and high-CBD cannabis that is less about the recreational high, and more for people seeking the benefits of cannabis and cannabinoids like high-CBD cannabis on the body and mind.”

Little Steven’s Underground Apothecary Pre-Rolls | PHOTO CREDIT

According to the website, “this cannabis is meant to provide a powerful feeling of well being and enriching your endocannabinoid system with high-CBD and low-THC flower, so it’s less of a stoned-high and more a full body balancing effect with uplifting pep.”

Like so many others, the pandemic gave the guitar hero and a wake up call on the importance of personal well-being, promting him to create his Underground Apothecary, which offers a range of holistic teas, lollipops, candles and now pre-rolls.

“I have always demanded the very best from myself and of everyone around me, and my new wellness brand Little Steven’s Underground Apothecary is no different,” says Van Zandt. “Products like Smash Hits cannabis are like my other partners for the Apothecary – the best I can find in the world. So enjoy, be well, and stay focused on the only part of our destinies we totally control – what we choose to put in our bodies.”

“We need to help spread cannabis education, destigmatization, and stop unjust criminalization for a plant that not only does a lot of good, but has proven during COVID to be almost as essential as art to people’s well being and quality of life,” says Van Zandt.

To that end, ten percent of all profits from Van Zandt’s Little Steven’s Underground Apothecary will be given to the National Organization for Marijuana Legalization (NORML).

Canna Provisions, home of Little Steven’s Underground Apothecary | PHOTO CREDIT

Available exclusively at Canna Provisions dispensaries in Lee and Holyoake, Massachusetts.

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Culture

Stuff & Puff Berner’s New Cali Pre-Roll

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Cali
PHOTO | VIBES

Cannabis mogul Berner has dropped the latest must-have pre-roll paper from his premium rolling paper brand, Vibes. A fresh alternative to the traditional cone, The Cali is a cylindrical pre-roll tube that’s been designed for optimum airflow for the optimal smoking experience.

In a press release, the Bay Area rapper says that he’s been rolling for over 20 years, and that over that time, he was constantly told by friends that they would smoke joints over blunts if they could roll them. So he partnered with Greenlane to develop this innovative alternative.

PHOTO: Vibes

“As passionate smokers, and connoisseurs, we are gonna continue to focus on quality papers and products that consumers are missing, such as The Cali,” said Berner in a press release.

“All you have to do is stuff and puff with The Cali.”

The Cali is dedicated to those of us who like a big-smoke experience. We found the papers to burn very evenly and smoothly. They are also easy to extinguish and relight,  and even burn evenly in areas where I packed it too tightly or too loose (deliberately, before y’all start commenting). 

Plus, The Cali pre-rolls are massive, so make sure you have plenty of herb on hand for your next session to fully enjoy the experience either with your homies or when you’re chilling alone.

The Cali Collection | PHOTO: Vibes

The Cali is offered in three sizes — one, two, and three gram — across all four signature Vibes paper collections: Ultra Thin, Rice, Hemp, and Organic Hemp

Look for Vibes papers at your local retailer nationwide.

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