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

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Masterclass in Medical Cannabis
PHOTO | cendeced

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

Cannabis in Conversation Around the World

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Stoner Slang
PHOTO Capjah

The weed lover’s vocabulary – aka stoner slang – is extensive, occasionally absurd, and sometimes practical. There’s a surfeit of nicknames to describe the color, quality, shape and psychoactive qualities of cannabis.

In fact, there are more than 1,200 different ways to refer to the cannabis plant. Bubonic chronic, doobie, dank, reefer, bud, grass, ganja… the list goes on.

Even so, how and why are there so many slang terms for the herb, anyway?

The answer, suggests Jonathon Green, author of Green’s Dictionary of Slang, relates to the illegal status of cannabis.

Slang, after all, is defined as an informal language, often used to conceal unmentionable words. In the cannabis community, it’s used as code; a linguistic way to get around authorities, or nay-sayers. But authorities catch on to slang, and eventually, new colloquialisms are needed.

“The terminology doesn’t really emphasize illegality: It is the illegality that created the need for the terminology,” Green told TIME in 2017. The creation of new slang, he added, is “seen as ‘fighting the man,’ it is also simply fun.”

In other words, stoner slang isn’t necessarily coined to be derogatory; it’s the jargon of cannabis aficionados.

Stoner slang is derived from different languages and cultures. For example, pot comes from the (Mexican) Spanish word for marijuana leave — potiguaya — or pot for short; Ganja from the Sanskrit word for Cannabis sativa, made popular by Jamaicans; and “gage” or “muggle,” both idioms for weed popularized by Jazz musicians in the 1920s and ’30s.

Reefer is said to derive from the Spanish word for weed, “grifa.” It’s also said to refer to the verb “reef,” which means to draw or pull.

Sometimes, however, the history of these slang terms is a more little complex or shrouded in stigma. One of the best examples of this is “marijuana.” Its origin is uncertain, but it became a widely used nickname for cannabis in the U.S. in the 20th century.

Per NPR, “A common version of the story of the criminalization of pot goes like this: Cannabis was outlawed because various powerful interests […] were able to craft it into a bogeyman in the popular imagination, by spreading tales of homicidal mania touched off by consumption of the dreaded Mexican “locoweed.” Fear of brown people combined with fear of nightmare drugs used by brown people to produce a wave of public action against the “marijuana menace.” That combo led to restrictions in state after state, ultimately resulting in federal prohibition.”

More recently, the word “skunk” is used to stimulate fear in the U.K. In America., skunk is a descriptor for its smell, or even strain names. But in the U.K., skunk is described as “super-weed,” and is often associated with psychosis. Recent headlines from Britain’s news sources reinforce the idea; “Most U.K. Cannabis ‘Super Strength Skunk” (BBC News), “Super Strength Skunk Could be to Blame for Spike in Lung and Heart Problems Among Women Over 40” (the Independent).

Like the term “dank,”  some words start out with unpleasant meanings but have come to define really good things. In stoner culture, it means high-quality bud.

What about the word “stoner?” That has also come to take on a more positive connotation, too. The typical stoner stereotype — lazy, couch-locked and sluggish — is far from the truth. Rather, “stoner” is a diverse term for any cannabis enthusiasts: mothers, CEOs, entrepreneurs… and well, everyone in between.

Of course, slang is ever-evolving. And as the industry goes global, stoners will continue to innovate irie idioms.

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Culture

Lady Jane Society Hosts First Women in Cannabis Central Valley Retreat

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Lady Jane Society
PHOTO | Stephanie Baker Photography

The Lady Jane Society, a Central California-based event company, hosted its inaugural event for women in the cannabis industry on October 4-5, 2019 at the scenic Bella Forrest venue in Hilmar, CA. Nestled in a private forest located just off the Merced River, the Women in Cannabis Central Valley retreat brought together female leaders, influencers and educators from throughout the nation to the scenic location — many of whom made the trek from Sacramento, the San Francisco Bay Area, Los Angeles, Chicago, Washington state and Florida,

The Lady Jane Society retreat spotlighted the regional Central Valley cannabis industry and featured sponsorships, speakers, and pop-up shops from local businesses such as Legacy Nursery, and Lyfted Farms — both based in Modesto, CA — Sisters of the Valley, Mission Nurseries/Don Primo, and Highway 33 Cannabis Club. Meals were prepared by local eateries Greens on Tenth and Traveling Pizza. 

The event was held in the secluded, magical grove of fig trees, creating a natural, whimsical outdoor setting protected from the elements  lit by sun rays in the daylight and hanging lights in the evening. Dotted throughout the luscious landscape were lounging areas, and vendors offering infused goodies and decked out accessories. 

PHOTO | Melissa Hutsell

Also on site was the multi-media social movement This is Jane Project, Peace of Mind 209, Wind Valley Apothecary, Custom Blingggs, Potency No. 710 skincare, and clothing and accessories from White Buffalo Spirit, Collective Hearts jewelry, among more pop-up shops. 

Attendees were treated to a plethora of infused goodies, which included CBD sparkling waters from DayTrip, THC-infused coffee from SomaTik, pre-rolls from Sexxpot, and a dab bar courtesy of Eel River Organics.

PHOTO | Stephanie Baker Photography

Guests also sipped on mocktails and cocktails from Humboldt Apothecary and enjoyed activities such as Sparked — an interactive card game created to uplift and celebrate women — before ending the first evening with a collective ‘cheers’, made possible by Lyfted Farms pre-rolls. 

The weekend’s agenda emphasized education, networking and the celebration of all who were in attendance.

MC’ed by Kay Ramirez, aka Mskindness B, the speaker series spotlighted community building and women in the supply chain.

Lady Jane Society

PHOTO | Stephanie Baker Photography

The panel included Jennina Chiavetta of Legacy Nursery, who spoke about breeding, genetics and building a canna-company in her hometown of Modesto, Wendy Kornberg of Sunnabis Farms spoke on cultivation, Angela Kadara of MediZen discussed manufacturing, Margot Wampler of Fenix Distribution, Kimberly Cargile of A Therapeutic Alternative talked about retail, Jaqueline McGowan of the Facebook group California City and County Watch spoke about policy, Manndie Tingler of Khemia talked about community building and Scheril Murray Powell, Attorney, who made the journey to California from Florida to speak about civic engagement.

Kyra Reed, co-founder of LJS, said the event was an offline manifestation of what the group has been cultivating on the Women Empowered in Cannabis (WEiC) Facebook group: “encouragement, empowerment through honest dialogue and sharing of resources,” she adds, “all while in a gorgeous environment that made us all feel like we were in a bubble of support that our emcee, Mskindness B, wrapped us in from the moment our guests arrived.”

PHOTO | Stephanie Baker Photography

In addition to the inspirational and educational speaker series, attendees were also treated to some serious swag. Each ticket holder was sent home with a goodie bags with more than $200 in edible, smokable, wearable and topical cannabis products, including pre-rolls by Sexxpot and Lyfted Farms, snacks from MediZen and SolDaze, CBD oil and capsules from Manitoba Harvest, salves by Sisters of the Valley and more. 

As relaxation was at the heart of the event, attendees received the full retreat experience. 

The second and final day of the retreat opened with a Relaxation and Recharge session, complete with breakfast, guided meditation and CannaBliss Yoga with Michelle Patino, and sound healing with Eliza Moroney, the Cannabis Yogi

Lady Jane Society

PHOTO | Stephanie Baker Photography

During the afternoon, visitors were treated to massages, a taco bar, an afternoon of engaging speakers, and pop-up shops selling clothing, accessories and infused goods. 

As the sun started to set on the final evening of the retreat, more women took the stage for The Lady Jane Society’s Award Ceremony. The society’s co-founder, Kyra Reed, presented scholarships to Oaksterdam, and Cloverleaf University. 

The awards ceremony, sponsored by My Bud Vase, recognized leaders and allies. Awardees included Manndie Tingler of Khemia, educator Amanda Soens, and Ed Breslin and Brian Walker, founders of Making You Better Brands, which include Xternal topical relief sprays.

PHOTO | Stephanie Baker Photography

AnnaMaria Riedinger, founder of Hey Honey! Artisanal Lemonades, said she noticed the doors opening slowly for women in cannabis here in the Central Valley, “not only to connect but to own their truth as team players in the local industry and understanding their success depends on moving forward collectively.”

“As co-founder of the Lady Jane Society, I am so honored to be part of making the space and shift for women wanting solid and authentic lasting relationships,” she added. “I truly believe change begins at the local level, and witnessing the change all weekend was the most heartfelt experience!”

PHOTO | Stephanie Baker Photography

The most important thing women took from the Lady Jane Society event, explains Reed, is that women were given “permission and inspiration to ask for what they want! And the results were real empowerment.”

Many of the women in attendance had little to no cannabis community with other women. “That changed at the event, too,” added Reed. “That is what we wanted — to build community and truly empower women to thrive in their cannabis careers.”

Make sure you don’t miss next year’s Lady Jane Society retreat. Save the Date — the first weekend in October 2020.

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Culture

Network in Paradise at the CanEx Jamaica Business Conference & Expo

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CanEx Jamaica
PHOTO | Konstiantyn

According to a new report by Grand View Research, Inc, the global legal cannabis market is expected to reach USD 66.3 billion by the end of 2025. Helped in part by the increasing acceptance of cannabis to treat numerous medical conditions such as Parkinson’s disease, cancer, arthritis, and neurological disorders, along with the lucrative revenue created by legal cannabis sales, there has never been a more crucial time for entrepreneurs and businesses to network and expand their businesses on a global scale.

As one of the leaders in international business-to-business (B2B) events, the CanEx Jamaica Business Conference and Expo brings together top cannabis industry experts from around the globe including the U.S., Canada, Europe, Australia and the Caribbean.

Taking place September 26-28 at the Montego Bay Convention Center, in beautiful Montego Bay, the fourth annual CanEx Jamaica Business Conference & Expo features addresses, panel discussions and presentations on a variety of topics — from advocacy, cultivation, science and medicine to investment, banking and finance, and the business of cannabis including women entrepreneurship.

Over 70 world-class speakers and panelists will provide insights into the direction of the global cannabis industry to over 3,000 delegates.

Steve DeAngelo, founder of Harboride dispensary and the Last Prisoner Project, is speaking on two panels — “Post Decriminalization of Cannabis: Towards Restorative Justice” and “Strategic Approaches to Cannabis Investments” to how the investment landscape is evolving.

Bruce Linton, founder of Canopy Growth Corp, the first cannabis producing company in North America to be listed on a major stock exchange, will host a fireside chat with CanEx founder, Douglas K. Gordon.

Former President of Mexico, Vicente Fox, will host “The Global Cannabis Movement” that will explore what globalization means in practical terms for the industry, where things stand presently and the future of the global market.

Cam Battley, Chief Corporate Officer of Aurora Cannabis Inc., will be speaking on the panel “CEO Roundtable: Roadmap to Sustainable Profitability for the Industry” to discuss the global challenges and opportunities facing the cannabis Industry.

Plus, over 200 exhibitors and sponsors, from cultivators to investment firms and media experts will provide attendees opportunities for networking, business expansion and identify new areas of growth within the legal industry.

Held for the first time in 2016, CanEx Jamaica is responsible for connecting cannabis experts, researchers, business professionals, creating new strategic partnerships in a truly memorable and vibrant setting.

For more information, visit canexjamaica.com.

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