Professor Mauro Maccarone, Chair of Biochemistry and Molecular Biology at Campus Bio-Medico University of Rome, discusses current cannabis research and the dangers of making product claims that are not backed up by science: "Psychiatric illnesses and, more in general, neurological diseases, are one of the areas, maybe together with cancer and pain, where people need more drugs than we actually have. And certainly, cannabis extracts can have potential, yet they can also be a menace to patients." Maccarone also dives into the notion of cannabis being potentially therapeutic for psychosis and schizophrenia, and notes that chronic use is one of the main things we should be concerned about.
Cam Battley, CCO of Aurora Cannabis, begins by discussing the importance of social justice in the cannabis industry: "It's part of the founding ethic of our company. It is what animates us. It's what delivers a sense of mission [...] We are business people, but in business, to be able to combine a sense of mission, a belief in the rightness, and the value of what you're achieving." He points out that, by being a part of a new industry, we have the opportunity to make it better than legacy industries -- for example, prioritizing diversity in the workplace. Battley believes that people involved in the cannabis market before legalization have the right to work in the legal sector, and also discusses sustainability regarding indoor growing facilities.
Troy Dayton, CEO of the ArcView Group, begins by discussing the recent passing of the SAFE Banking Act: "Forcing people to deal with cash, even if you oppose legalization, is outrageous. Everybody has agreed forever that these businesses should have access to banking." Dayton believes that this victory will make a huge difference to the industry and to the movement, but reminds us that our work is not done until we pass federal legalization and expunge records for nonviolent drug crimes. Dayton also discusses the need for scientific research to catch up with the pace of industry, the nuances of the STATES Act, the demand for CBD, and also notes that the trend of companies going public probably won't become mainstream at least for a few years.
Dr. Matthew Halpert, instructor of immunology at Baylor College of Medicine, has spent the past year studying and researching the different ways in which CBD interacts with the body: "It's become very evident that CBD can, in fact, interact with the body in a variety of ways, and exert several different health benefits. It is certainly worth it to study CBD and these other cannabinoids and how they may be very helpful." Because regulating cellular homeostasis is beneficial for controlling cancer growth and tumor development, CBD became a subject of interest for Halpert and his team. Halpert is confident that, eventually, doctors will be prescribing CBD to patients and that CBD will be reimbursable by health insurance plans.
Today, we are joined by two guests: Fleesie Hubbard, founder of FiveTen Wellness, and Jim Belushi, founder of Belushi's cannabis farm. We begin with Fleesie Hubbard, whose business focuses on three main areas: patient education, advancing clinical research, and building community partnerships. Hubbard also discusses CBD and the way its role in the industry has evolved: "The passage of the Farm Bill really has opened a door to companies that should not be in the space, that are marketing things, that are making claims that are not really accurate. I think that there's a real lack of education around the value of CBD and what types of CBD products are valuable." Jim Belushi then joins us with a discussion of the work he is currently doing in Oregon. For example, Belushi is working to establish an opiate trade program in Portland so that anyone can receive cannabis, regardless of what they're able to pay. For Belushi, cannabis is spiritual: "I believe that the cannabis that we're putting out there, like that veteran, he's talking to his wife, he's talking to his kids because of the plant. I feel we can heal families and heal the community."
Richard Parrott, Division Director for CalCannabis Cultivation Licensing of the CDFA, is currently working to transition those with provisional licenses over to annual licenses. As well, Parrott and his team are looking to set up parameters to establish a certified organic cannabis program. In order to draft correct regulations, it is essential to hear from the public, which requires engagement, participation, and discussion from all points of view. Parrott notes the most important lessons he's learned from being in the industry: "Our goal is to get everyone educated so that they can be in this regulated space and be successful. So, lessons learned are just really communicating, trying to anticipate issues that might be coming up, and get out in front of it. Start communicating and talking early."
Steve DeAngelo, cannabis activist and entrepreneur, discusses legalization in California beginning with the secret history of Prop 64. He poses the question: "Is flawed legalization better than no legalization at all?" In that same vein, DeAngelo notes that, because every part of the supply chain is now taxed, adult use has paradoxically driven some people out of the system rather than bringing them in. Correct regulation is certainly of the utmost importance: "[Comprehensive product safety testing is] what we do with every other product that's designed for human consumption in this country. That's what cannabis consumers deserve: the same degree of protection that every other consumer gets. And we've been denied that, and it has impacted our health, and it has killed us, and it's long overdue for it to stop."
Terra Carver, of the Humboldt County Grower's Alliance, joins us to discuss the best way to move the cannabis movement forward: "When we advocate...we're really trying to look beyond just making money or thinking about this as a business and ensuring that we're protecting our environment, we're protecting our communities and keeping the ecosystem of our culture really healthy." Carver also discusses the current state of provisional licenses, difficult barriers to entry, and the complications that would come if hemp were produced within Humboldt County.
While the passing of the SAFE Banking Act in the House is a great victory for everybody, U.S. Congressman Don Young wants to urge everybody who cares about SAFE Banking to call their senators and encourage them to vote yes on the bill as well. In terms of what's next, Young says that the cannabis industry should come to Congress with proposals for solutions so that Congress can stay informed and get ahead. Young also discusses the three big cannabis bills on the docket: the STATES Act, the MORE Act, and the CARERS Act. Like many of his colleagues, Young believes that cannabis reform should be a states' rights issue and that the federal government should mostly be uninvolved -- regulate at the state level so that the states can collect that tax. When it comes to making progress, Young reminds us: "If you start biting an apple before what you bit on, you're going to lose. Get this done. Get concentrated on that. You get that signed, then you go after the next one."