Cannabis Science Conference Spring was held in Portland, Oregon from April 19-21, 2023. Here we provide a few highlights from the event.
Led by expert program chairs and an educational steering committee, the first Cannabis Science Conference of 2023 returned to its roots in Portland, Oregon! To kick off the event, we held the pre-conference cannabis education workshop—the Canna Boot Camp—where attendees gained hands-on knowledge and experience in several aspects of the cannabis industry. The two-day conference featured two keynote speakers, several panel discussions, and plenty of insightful research from the four tracks: analytical science, medical cannabis, cultivation, and psychedelics. The exhibit hall provided attendees more opportunities to connect and collaborate with industry experts at various booths and poster presentations. Below we share some additional highlights from the event.
Canna Boot Camp
The full day, pre-conference Canna Boot Camp workshop was held at ChemHistory, a premier quality control testing laboratory in Milwaukie, Oregon. Attendees visited four interactive zones to learn about topics ranging from sample prep methods to in depth cultivation work and medical cannabis education as well as hands-on analytical testing. Each zone offered the chance to get a firsthand perspective, ask questions, and learn something new.
Thank you to ChemHistory, Fritsch, Spex CertiPrep, Milestone, Medical Marijuana 411, Christian West and Zac Hildenbrand for providing an in-depth learning experience for us!
Watch our onsite interview with ChemHistory Business Director Alex Hoggan here.
Cannabis Science Conference Spring: Day One
Dustin Sulak, DO, launched the first day of the conference with an engaging presentation titled “Low and Ultra-Low Doses of Cannabinoids: Are We Missing the Sweet Spot?” Dr. Sulak examined several preclinical studies with ultra-low doses of cannabinoids—such as tetrahydrocannabinol (THC), tetrahydrocannabinolic acid (THCA), and cannabidiolic acid (CBDA)— explaining how the cannabinoids could be working with or against each other. He also compared methods and results from human studies with diabetes, pediatric epilepsy, fibromyalgia, as well as experience from his own practice. He concluded with his recommendations for researchers, cannabis medicine producers, clinicians, and patients. See a preview of his presentation in an interview with Cannabis Science and Technology.
Following Dr. Sulak’s presentation, the analytical track held a fireside chat discussion with a group of esteemed panelists led by moderator Patrick Bird, MS, Sr. Manager, Scientific Affairs, bioMerieux, on ways to reduce microbial product failure rates. The panel featured Heather Krug, Regulatory Programs Branch Chief, Colorado State Public Health Lab; Antionette Duncan, Sr. Director Quality Assurance, Curaleaf; Chris Hudalla, President and CEO, ProVerde Labs; Steve Jetter, Program Analyst for Cannabis and Psilocybin Policy, Oregon Health Authority’s Oregon Environmental Laboratory Accreditation Program (ORELAP); and Shane Flynn, Senior Director Laboratory Proficiency Testing, AOAC. The analytical science track covered a wide variety of topics throughout the day, such as analyses of aerosol generation and collection and delivery systems with Dr. Mark Crosswhite, laboratory testing, cannabinoid extraction, cannabis compliance, and evaluation and examination of terpenes. Watch a quick clip of analytical track program chair Dr. Julie Kowalski on what she looked forward to at the conference.
Moderated by program chair Cherissa Jackson, RN, the medical track included studies on cannabis and obesity, breast cancer, chronic pain, and precision cannabinoid medicine, plus a panel discussion on results from the first NIH funded population-based study of medical cannabis. To end the track on day one, Eloise Theisen, RN, Chief Nursing Officer and Board President of Leaf 411, presented case reviews of cannabis to reduce opioid intake in palliative care. For more on her presentation, watch our onsite interview with Theisen.
The cultivation track, led by program chair Dr. Zacaraiah Hildenbrand, covered cannabis-specific plant nutrition, solutions to lower CapEx and OpEx costs, 3D printed construction, and finding a source and solution to microbe contamination presented by Carly Bader. Get an in-depth look into her presentation and insights in our recent interview with Bader.
For the first presentation of the day in the psychedelics track, program chair Dr. Denise Vidot presented her research from “Cardiovascular Disease Risk Among Cannabis + Psilocybin Co-Consumers.” The track also featured topics such as content variety in psilocybe cubensis strains, and using HPLC to analyze psychoactive alkaloids.
At the end of day one, a networking mixer held in the exhibit hall provided the opportunity for everyone to exchange knowledge in-person with speakers, attendees, and exhibitors and poster presentations from all facets of the cannabis industry.
Cannabis Science Conference Spring: Day Two
Dr. Sue Sisley began the second day of the conference with her informative presentation, “MDMA/Psychedelic Assisted Therapy: The Path to Potential FDA Approval.” She presented her recently published Phase 3 study on 3,4-Methylenedioxymethamphetamine (MDMA)-assisted therapy for treating post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) and explained the results, safety data, addiction potential, dose, and treatment time. She also addressed issues of the cost of psychedelic therapy, the limited efficacy of current treatment options, and the economic and social impact of untreated PTSD in the US. She described the neurological effects of MDMA, the neurobiology of PTSD, and what a typical MDMA session looks like and how it seeks to get to the root of trauma. MDMA, Dr. Sisley said, acts as “a catalyst, not the real treatment.” She ended her presentation with the changes she would like to see made for the future of psychedelic therapy, plus a real-life example of treating PTSD in the police force. Questions from the audience included the possibility of training psychiatric nurses or social workers to bolster the number of current therapists, why the FDA is appearing to embrace MDMA faster than cannabis, and the uniqueness of a therapy protocol around a medication.
One the second day of the analytical track, three different panel discussions covered the topics of the value of proficiency testing, which was moderated by program chair, Dr. Julie Kowalski; the standardizing and data sharing for the future of testing and quality control; and quality assurance and safety in cannabis psilocybin, and hemp, which was moderated by Kim Stuck. Watch our onsite interview with Stuck, CEO of Allay Consulting and author of the Cannabis Science and Technology blog.
Across the medical track, patients, researchers, nurses, pharmacists, and doctors presented on topics such as impending cannabis regulation, cannabis in palliative care, the role of machine learning in treating autism spectrum disorder with cannabis, an integrative understanding of smoking cannabis, and the use of cannabinoids in outpatient primary care. Closing out the track, Jeremy Robbins, MS, gave a patient’s perspective on cannabis and spinal cord injury.
The psychedelics track was closed out on day two with an hour-long panel discussion that explored ketamine assisted psychotherapy from an integrative medical clinic perspective and included three experts from the AIMS Institute: Dr. Alison Draisin, PsyD, LMHC, Dr. Emily Whinkin, and Madeleine Turner, LMHC-A, Certified JAMP© Transformational Coach. This panel will be covered in more detail in our upcoming psychedelics digital issue coming out in June 2023—stay tuned!
See the full list of presentations and agenda details here.
In the cultivation track, James Schwartz elaborated on the danger of the 2018 Farm Bill, Kevin McKernan presented information on the genetics of hop latent viroid, and presentations also covered the expanded soil food web and hemp production in North Dakota.
Finally, the conference concluded with a screening of the film Unprescribed, with commentary from filmmaker Steve Ellmore. The film advocates for veteran access to medical cannabis, highlighting the research of Dr. Sisley and testimony from veterans, veteran family members, advocates, and more. For more on this important film, please read our detailed article with Ellmore. Be sure to watch our Deep Dive interview with Cherissa Jackson, RN, medical track program chair, as she provides insights into veterans, medical cannabis, and why Unprescribed is an important film to watch.
Join us for Cannabis Science Conference Fall in Providence, Rhode Island September 20-22, 2023 as the industry continues to move forward! For more information, please visit https://www.cannabisscienceconference.com/.