It's widely believed that a commonly used medicinal extract of the cannabis plant—cannabidiol (CBD)—cannot get people stoned.
But that idea was challenged by two people on a health panel at the Grassroots cannabis conference taking place today at UBC Robson Square.
Levity Solutions cofounder Phil Kwong has been diagnosed with multiple sclerosis. He's been using cannabis for many years to counter the effects, and he's an expert on cannabis extracts.
Kwong pointed out that dabbing CBD is not the same as consuming it orally. And he noted that isolates can deliver 99 percent CBD.
"In a CBD isolate, you can definitely feel the effects," he revealed.
Industry veteran and CannaReps consultant Adolfo Gonzalez also challenged the conventional wisdom that CBD is never psychoactive.
"There are people who have an extreme sensitivity to CBD," Gonzalez said, before adding: "I don't want to get behind the wheel when I dab an isolate."
Researchers are investigating the therapeutic effects of CBD on a wide variety of conditions, including pain, epilepsy, anxiety and substance use disorders, schizophrenia, cancer, posttraumatic disorder, and inflammatory diseases.
A 2016 study found that if CBD is exposed to an acidic environment, such as the gastrointestinal tract, it can degrade into tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) and other psychoactive cannabinoids.
Gonzalez also pointed out that a person's relationship to cannabinoids and turpenes can change over time, particularly among those with eplipsy.
In part, that's because medical conditions can have an impact on the release of hormones. That's leading to the belief that there isn't always a "silver bullet" to treat many conditions.
"For cancer treatment, the new frontier is personalized treatment, depending on what your body needs," Gonzalez said.
The third panelist, John De Villa, has been diagnosed with epilepsy and endured 12 grand mal seizures over an eight-month period in 2014 and 2015.
"The toughest part was balancing the drug interactions between what I was taking with my cannabis regime," De Villa said.
He's now free of seizures, which he attributes to extensive research by him and his wife into finding what blend of cannabis worked best for him.
Kwong also tried many strains to cope with MS symptoms. He eventually concluded that problems diminished when he used the more sedating indica strains with higher THC and lower CBD content.
The message was clear for others in the room: show patience as a patient and never give up.
Coincidentally, Kwong and De Villa both said that a THC-to-CBD ratio of 4:1 works best for them.
In the meantime, Gonzalez emphasized the importance of patients telling their doctors about cannabis use so medical experts can be aware of potential negative interactions with prescription drugs.
"When there is cannabis guidance," he cautioned, "it's incomplete without that medical dimension."
Gonzalez also said it's imperative for new cannabis users to "start low and go slow". By that, he means use lighter doses and not too quickly.
He revealed that it might take someone in palliative care with a slow metabolism, for example, up to six hours to experience the effects.
As a result, he said, too many doses can create unwanted complications, driving people away from using medicinal cannabis.
Gonzalez also said that the role of the budtender is about helping people go through their journey as safely and as well-informed as they possibly can.
"We empower them to make the choices for themselves," he declared. "We can't make the choices for them. We can provide very specific indications and we can provide the anecdotal background."More