MediCannaCon, the first Ojai Medical Cannabis Conference, is set for May 4 in Ojai, and will focus on the use of Medical Marijuana. The conference is presented by the Ojai Herbal Symposium and the Sespe Creek Collective, and will welcome scientists, healthcare professionals and the general public — anyone who wants to learn about the use of medical marijuana.

Lanny Kaufer

“The focus is on medical uses of cannabis,” conference organizer Lanny Kaufer told the VCReporter. “We are presenting the latest science from top experts in the field, including two medical doctors, a USC pharmacologist and a nurse.”

“With cannabis now legal for recreational sales in Ojai and Port Hueneme, we know that more people are using it to address health issues, in addition to those already licensed to use it with prescriptions, under California Proposition 215, the Medical Marijuana Initiative of 1996,” Kaufer said.

“Doctors, other health professionals, and patients or those self-medicating need to quickly learn as much as possible about the science behind the medical uses of cannabis, so that its use not only helps but does no harm. Our presenters know they will be addressing a mixed audience,” he said.

Topics the presenters will cover include “Cannabis in Health and Disease, “The Human Endocannabinoid System,” “Medical Uses of Full-Spectrum Cannabis,” “The Entourage Effect of Cannabis,” and “The Safe and Effective Cannabis Patient Experience.”

“These topics are aimed at health professionals, patients and lay people alike — anyone who wants to deepen their knowledge of medical use of cannabis including under what conditions it is an appropriate treatment and when it is not,” Kaufer said.

Continuing Education Units for acupuncturists will be issued to those attending.

Dr. David Bearman

One of the conference presenters, Dr. David Bearman, has studied cannabis for decades. Marijuana is made from the flowers and leaves of the cannabis plant, and “Medicinal use of cannabis is not new,” he told the VCReporter. “It’s been around for 4,000 years. In the 1800s and early 1900s, pharmacists routinely prepared cannabis treatments.” Cannabis has been mentioned in multiple medical books historically, from the Chinese Pao Ting of 2637 BCE to the United States Pharmacopoeia of 1854-1941.

Bearman specializes in drug misuse prevention and treatments, and has treated patients in Ventura and Santa Barbara counties for many years. He is a founder of the American Academy of Cannabinoid Medicine. “We founded AACM to counteract the misuse of cannabis by prescribers who were giving it a bad name,” he said. AACM members are doctors or researchers who study cannabinoids. “All of us are concerned about quality of care. AACM is the gold standard for the education and dissemination of information.”

“A common reason to prescribe cannabis is to achieve severe pain relief. Another common reason is to treat anxiety,” Bearman explained. That’s been true throughout history. “In a 1922 pharmacy text, the main reasons listed for its use were pain and anxiety. So that hasn’t changed.”

The medical issues and legal confusion surrounding marijuana use are rooted in the fact that the cannabis plant contains a staggering 512 different kinds of molecules. One would need a biochemistry background to actually understand all its various capacities. “It’s very complex,” Bearman said. “The chemical structure of medicinal cannabis is so complicated.” This jam-packed reality has made cannabis an endless source of misunderstanding.

For Bearman’s patients, “Cannabis treatments have proven to be useful in treating all kinds of pain and various types of seizures, headaches including migraine, some types of Attention Deficit Disorder, Crohn’s disease, osteoarthritis, insomnia, muscle conditions including multiple sclerosis, PTSD (Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder, seen in many battlefield veterans and assault survivors), and anything involving inflammation.”

The reason for this array of treatments is that cannabis affects the human endocannabinoid system, “the largest neurotransmitter system in the human brain,” Bearman explained. The brain’s endocannabinoid system is connected to many body parts and therefore to a variety of diseases and injuries. This is why marijuana treatments are so wide-ranging. Bearman also notes that medical marijuana is helpful for some cases of autism.

Of its 512 different molecules, the plant’s elements that are most familiar to the general public are tetrahydrocannabinol, called THC; and cannabidiol, or CBD. “There is an enormous range of therapeutic uses,” Bearman said.

THC and CBD do not impact brain cells in the same way — they have distinct differences. THC has psychoactive effects that leave users feeling impaired, or “high,” due to its mind-altering capacity. In contrast, CBD is not mind-altering.

With regard to dosage, Bearman will be talking at the conference about why “One size does not fit all.” An individual person’s problematic condition and their health determine dosage. “For some patients, a capsule that is one-half THC and one-half CBD is best. For severe pain and muscle spasm, for example, a higher percentage of THC is effective. Cancer patients are often taking the highest dose of THC. Some patients do not like THC because it leaves them feeling disoriented, and they prefer higher doses of CBD, or CDB alone with no THC. The percentage of THC and CBD, within one prescription, always depends on the individual person.”

Susan Marks, RN, BSN, PHN

Conference presenter Susan Marks, RN, BSN, PHN, is the founder of Nurse Susan in Los Angeles, and of the DearNurseSusan.com website. She has been advising and treating patients using medical marijuana for three years. “At the conference, I’ll be talking about the patient experience,” she told the VCReporter. “I work with patients’ symptoms and diseases to figure out the best protocol for each individual.” This includes determining the best dosage, the most effective type of cannabinoid, assessing any other medications they take for possible interactions and the best route of administration.

She will be addressing common misconceptions, of which there are many. “It is possible to use cannabinoids in a way that does not leave you impaired or intoxicated,” Marks said. “A common misconception is that you have to get high, and that happens with only one of more than 100 different cannabinoids.

“There are many common misunderstandings about cannabis,” she said. “People ask me, ‘Do I have to smoke it?’ But there are so many ways it can be useful while not smoking it.” This is why prescribing the best route of administration for each patient is part of her practice. Swallowing cannabis as food or rubbing it on the skin are just two ways it can be used.

Dr. James David Adams

Conference presenter Dr. James David Adams is a USC Associate Professor of Pharmacology and Pharmaceutical Sciences. In a recent news article he authored, he describes medical marijuana’s numerous and complicated uses as something “we have only begun to explore.”

To harness its full potential, “Society needs to overcome misconceptions about marijuana and look at what research clearly says about the medical value,” he writes. At the conference he will be explaining that so far, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration has approved only a few prescription drugs that come from marijuana components, including some useful for treating nausea, multiple sclerosis and some types of epilepsy.

Other conditions he describes as treatable with medical marijuana include cancer-induced nausea, Type 2 diabetes, two types of epilepsy, irritable bowel syndrome, migraines, osteoarthritis, sleep disorders and PTSD.

Like other conference presenters, Adams will discuss how THC, the ingredient that makes people high, impacts neurotransmitters in the brain. The human brain contains cannabinoid receptors, and “THC works by hijacking these natural cannabinoid receptors, triggering a profound high,” Adams writes. He also explains how recreational marijuana can be misused. For example, he sees the number of Marijuana Hyperemesis Syndrome cases rising. “Some people vomit uncontrollably after smoking marijuana regularly,” Adams writes. In addition, high levels of THC can cause anxiety and even psychosis. MHS can be treated with capsaicin, which is a non-prescription cream available at pharmacies.

Although the FDA has approved a few prescription drugs that come from marijuana components, “The FDA does not recognize marijuana as a legal product,” Adams writes. This makes funding for research difficult to find.

The conference will cover very recent research findings. “One promising area is cannabis treatments for various cancers,” Bearman said. One of the new investigations is into glioblastoma, a type of brain cancer. In one study, patients receiving a cannabinoid treatment lived 180 days longer than is typical.

“If Sen. John McCain had received this treatment,” Bearman said, “It’s possible Brett Kavanaugh would not be a Supreme Court judge.”

SIDEBAR:

MediCannaCon, the first Ojai Medical Cannabis Conference, will take place on Saturday, May 4, 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. at the Ojai Valley Woman’s Club, 441 E. Ojai Avenue in Ojai.

Registration is $125 in advance until May 3, and $145 at the door on May 4.

Advance tickets can only be purchased through the website or by phone.

Hosted by the Ojai Herbal Symposium and Sespe Creek Collective, the conference is intended for both healthcare professionals and the general public. Medical experts will present the latest scientific findings about medical cannabis.

There will be four presenters: Margaret Peterson, M.D.; David Bearman, M.D.; James D. Adams, Ph.D.; and Susan Marks, RN, BSN, PHN.

Topics will include “Cannabis in Health and Disease,” “The Human Endocannabinoid System,” “Medical Uses of Full-Spectrum Cannabis,” “The Entourage Effect of Cannabis,” and “The Safe and Effective Cannabis Patient Experience.”

To purchase conference tickets and for information, visit ojaiherbal.org, call 805-646-6281 or email Info@OjaiHerbal.org. 

ACUPUNCTURISTS, NOTE:

The conference will offer Continuing Education Units for acupuncture. The conference is Continuing Education Provider #1526 as designated by the California Acupuncture Board. All five MediCannaCon events are approved for Category 1 credit; 1.5 units for Dr. Bearman’s presentation; and 1 unit each for the other presentations, totaling 5.5 CEUs. Certificates documenting CEUs earned will be issued at conference completion. Email Info@OjaiHerbal.org for further information.