2018 was an eventful year for Canada; not only did they legalize recreational use of cannabis but the Masterclass Medicinal Cannabis took place for the first time outside of Leiden. This was a great opportunity to share valuable information about all aspects of medical cannabis to Canadians and anyone else who was willing to join us in from the 28th of October to the 2nd of November in Ottawa.
For those who are not familiar with the Masterclass Medicinal Cannabis, it is a 5-day intense course on all aspects of medical cannabis presented by some of the most renowned cannabis experts. As Dr. Arno Hazekamp, the founder creator of this course, likes to put it; it is a guided tour into cultivation, research and development of medical cannabis, a meet and greet with diverse professionals, and a place where you can ask questions, share insights and learn from other cannabis enthusiasts.
Ottawa, here we come!
The timing of the Masterclass was strategically planed, just a 2 weeks after Canada just legalized the recreational use of cannabis. Now, one expect that this meant you could legally buy cannabis in specialized shops – one would be wrong. To my surprise, the local government decided to only allow the selling of cannabis trough online stores, as brick and mortar stores would be allowed to operate only from April 2019. Despite these limitations, as predicted by many, there was a shortage of cannabis and cannabis products, and most shops, that actually were allowed to sell, run out of products in just a few days. We have seen this scenario happening in many times and yet nobody seems to learn from it.
The venue was the Novotel hotel, situated in downtown Ottawa right next to a labyrinth 4-story mall, where I got lost a few times, and the delightful ByWard market, full of restaurants, delicatessen and grocery stores. The weather was a bit gloomy, not ideal for sightseeing but good enough for keeping us in the classroom, where the learning commenced.
The Masterclass is divide in to 5 main sections or the 5 P’s; Plant, Product, Patient, Physician and Policy. Each presentation was talking about one of the 5P’s
This year we had the opportunity to listen to learn from some of the most influential cannabis experts (Dr. Ernie Small, Dr. John McPartland, Dr. Jahan Marcu), with a particular emphasis on Canada, as many presenters were locals (Prof. Lakshmi P. Kotra, Dr. Caroline MacCallum, Dr. W. Brent R. Pollock ), who provided us with specific insights on the Canadian cannabis situation (Mike McGuire, Dr. Bruno Battistini).
Of all the great presentations and presenters, I will mention just two that stayed in my mind; Dr. Mike Dixon and Dr. Chris Spooner.
Dr. Mike Dixon took us on a journey into the future, as alluded in the title of his presentation “Applications of Space Exploration Technologies in Medical Cannabis Production”. Most of us already know, that for producing standardized medical cannabis (cannabis flos), it has to be grown in a closed environment where you can monitor all the environmental aspects and achieve homogenous growing conditions. This is due to the fact that phytocannabinoids and terpenes are secondary metabolites, that the plant produces as an adaptation to environmental factors. Mike has taken this to another level with the help of space technology to finely tune and monitor, every aspect of plant growth and the impacts these changes can have on plant morphology and the production of secondary metabolites. Light, CO2, oxygen, nutrients, water, temperature, and air quality, are all important factors, that can be modulated, to achieve stability and maximal yields of the desired constituents. It was fascination to see, how different wavelength of light, in different areas of the plant, had such a profound effect on the production of certain cannabinoids, terpenes and terpenoids. I am confident, that the implementation of this type of technology will greatly improve the standardized medical cannabis quality.
Dr. Chris Spooner presentation “Integrative Cannabinoid Therapeutics” gave us an insight into the endocannabinoidi system as a master regulator of our body’s homeostasis and how, via different mechanisms, we can help it in its important task. Several studies have shown that nutritional deficiencies can impair ECS function and integrating omega-3 fats, vitamin d and methylated B vitamins, can improve the overall efficacy of this crucial system. The gut microbiome also has an essential role in health, as these beneficial microorganisms have important roles in various aspects of our health. It is refreshing to see a doctor with such a holistic approach and I wish more physicians would embrace this kind of integrative treatment, that has been successfully used for centuries but was systematically eradicated and replaced by modern age allopathic treatment.
The information that all the presenters delivered was highly appreciated by the class of 2018 and they also had the possibility of continuing the conversation with the speakers, further deepening the knowledge of all the interesting cannabis subjects.
Filed trip to Smith Falls
The last day of the Masterclass is reserved for a visit to a licensed producer. Usually the visit was to Bedrocan’s facility in the Netherlands, but this year, being in Canada, we visited Canopy Growth and its facility in Smith Falls, just an hour away from Ottawa.
Bruce Linton , the CEO of Canopy Growth, introduced us to the Canopy’s beginnings, its current situation and future plans. We had a tour of the various rooms, where cannabis is cloned, grown and made into its final products. We also took a tour of the Cannabis museum, where I found myself teaching the guides about the ECS, cannabinoids, terpenes and their interactions.
Being the last day of the Masterclass, we had a farewell dinner, where besides having a great time, the students of 2018 also got their certificates, officially adding them to our Masterclass family.
Conclusion and MMC 2019
Once again, the Masterclass 2018 was a fantastic event, a gathering of old friends and new acquaintances, full to the brim with interesting information, people and a time to enjoy likeminded professionals with cannabis as the glue that held it all together.
What about the future? The Masterclass Medicinal Cannabis will return in 2019, this time expanded to both continents.It is still too early to divulge the details so be sure to follow this blog and the Masterclass page for updates.