While everyone was celebrating 4/20 at various parties around the city, at home with friends, or at the esteemed MMJ Mag CUP; the lnterra Oils staff steered toward a more academic - yet equally fun - gathering. At the Psychedelic Science 2013 Conference we learned about research, clinical trials and their results, including such trials as MDMA-assisted psychotherapy for PTSD, LSD-assisted psychotherapy for end-of-life anxiety, Psilocybin for the treatment of smoking addiction and alcohol dependence, LSD and Bromo LSD for the treatment of cluster headaches, and ayahuasca therapy for the treatment of drug addiction. Of course our focus was on the medical marijuana track where we heard from medical doctors, researchers and leading activists in the industry.
Our workshop presenters included Valerie Corral - Executive Director at WAMM (Wo/Men's Alliance for Medical Marijuana); Dale Gieringer, PhD-State Director of California NORML; Fred Gardner - Project CBD; Martin Lee - Co-founder and Director at Project CBD; Troy Dayton - CEO of Arcview Group; Mimi Peleg - Director of Cannabis Training at MECHKAR; Alan Shackelford, PhD, Physician; Michael Sautman - Former CEO of Bedrocan International (and formerly advising the WSLCB); Donald Abrams, MD - Chief of Hematology-Oncology at San Francisco General Hospital; and Sue Sisley, MD and researcher.
At lnterra Oils, we believe that research is the most important aspect of medical cannabis and therefore, we want to share with the state of medical research in the USA. Every day we read new articles debating the pros and cons of medical marijuana in widely read publications such as the Wall Street Journal and Arthritis Today published by theArthritis Foundation. The number one argument against medical cannabis always boils down to the lack of research and evidence of efficacy. Unfortunately, while cannabis has great potential for healing, every researcher and MD clearly stated that the number one hurdle in the field of cannabis research is the little known fact that steep political barriers impede obtaining approval to study this amazing, but often controversial plant. Unlike any other drug, the study of cannabis alone must pass an additional level of review before the National Institute of Drug Abuse (NIDA). Yes, you read that correctly-- marijuana is the only drug whereby research must be approved by an organization whose primary directive is to abate "drug abuse." Clearly there is an inherent conflict of interest in deciding which studies NIDA will approve before providing its inferior study drug (they grind up the whole plant - stems, fan leaves, and seeds included - for a total THC content around 3.4%) for which NIDA is the sole, monopolistic supplier for any study approved in the USA.
The lack of research and the barriers to actually performing research is a huge problem that is fueled by politics gone awry. If we want more research done in the area of medical marijuana so that we can prove the efficacy that everyone already experiences, we need to act! One way is to help Sue Sisley in her quest in Arizona. Sue is trying to form a Super PAC in Arizona to help eliminate the barriers to marijuana research. Please go to americansforscientificfreedom.com, to read about what she is trying to accomplish and then donate to her cause! If her organization, ASF, becomes a Super PAC, the barriers to research will lessen! Slowly we can continue to chip away at the federal government's stranglehold on research and our efforts in the MMJ field.
Since we are producers of C02 extracted cannabis oil, and the first producers in Washington State, the second topic we took special note of was the discussions on extracts. Everyone touted the potential benefits of concentrated oils while also expressing concern about the safety. But one thing was unanimous: every speaker believed that concentrates are the future of medical marijuana. While the debate rages about the safety of butane hash oil (BHO) and the residual butane left in the product, we learned about the true potential harm. The residual butane left in BHO is of little consequence (especially since it's relatively easy to purge all of the butane with the proper equipment) compared to the adulterants in commonly purchased butane according to Jeffery Hergenrather, MD. We were informed that commonly purchased lighter grade butane canisters contain as little as 80% butane and up to 20% of other poisonous chemicals (including benzene, ethyl mercaptan, heptane and others) that are concentrated down into the final product. This concentration of other chemicals might not be recognized in a solvent test if the lab isn't specifically looking for them and would make heavy or daily consumption dangerous to the health of anyone - especially already sick patients. Sounds tasty now, doesn't it? The only butane that is recommended as safe for extractions is USP grade or laboratory grade butane - which is generally not accessible to the public.
While less common, we know that propane is also sometimes used as a solvent and recently saw an advertisement with the picture of a CP Grade propane tank. Propane has many purities; naturally it's 93% pure, CP Grade is 99% while there are four more higher grades consisting of: 99.5% (Instrument Purity), 99.9% (Ultra High Purity), 99.99% (Matheson Purity) and 99.999% (Research Purity). The risk with CP Grade propane is that the other 1% is propylene (think plastics manufacturing). Upon looking at the MSDS, the specific effects do not appear to exist, however, chronic exposure to this chemical is carcinogenic and "no specific information is available in our database regarding the other toxic effects of this material to humans" according to the MSDS.
This means that the consumer is the guinea pig for long-term effects. Are all testing labs testing for residual propylene or just residual propane? And how much is an acceptable level for chronic exposure? Unfortunately, we haven't found the answers to these questions yet - but we're always doing research. One thing is sure: I wouldn't smoke PHO made from CP Grade Propane!
Regardless of your preferred extract, we urge our readers: instead of trying to illegally make BHO or PHO at home and risk an explosion, fire, or poison related health problems, please leaves making oil concentrates up to the professionals. And if you insist on consuming butane or propane extracted oils over other naturally safe concentrates (such as C02), you should certainly inquire about how they are made! Most of the BHO currently sold does not use USP or lab grade butane and CP Grade propane is questionable at best.
I only discussed two of the many important topics covered at this conference and would love to write more - but there is too much information to share! Hopefully the staff at MMJ Magazine will allow me to write and share more about what we've learned at this conference, not to mention the knowledge we've accumulated over the last few years.
Of course, we are always willing to share more information with you directly and you can contact the lnterra Oils staff at any time.