The World Medical Cannabis Conference and Expo was held at the Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania convention center on April 21 and 22, just as Pennsylvania marked the first anniversary of its medical marijuana law.
The conference was co-sponsored by Greenhouse Ventures and Compassionate Certification Centers, a company that seeks to give physicians and health care providers the tools they need to integrate medical cannabis into their practice, as well as offer a platform for patient advocacy and support.
The event had both a general interest and a continuing medical education track, which drew 150 doctors, nurses and pharmacists who earned credentials, as well as chiropractors and holistic physicians. Attendees came from Pennsylvania, Florida, New York, Ohio, Texas and Nevada, according to Dr. Bryan Doner, the CEO of Compassionate Certification Centers.
Physician buy-in will be key for the Pennsylvania program, which requires doctors to attend a four-hour training program on medical cannabis, and register with the state. Doctors will not be permitted to advertise, but rather will be listed on a state health department website.
Keynoting on the first day of the conference was Dr. Cyril Wecht, perhaps the country’s famous coroner who rose to prominence when he questioned the JFK autopsy. Wecht testified in favor of Pennsylvania’s medical marijuana law, and noted in his speech that he has now performed 20,000 autopsies and overseen 40,000 autopsy reports, yet has never seen a death attributed to marijuana.
Wecht was played by Albert Brooks in the movie “Concussion,” about the court case that forced the NFL to acknowledge head trauma in players. Cannabis Now asked Dr. Wecht if he thought cannabis could be helpful for NFL players suffering from brain trauma. He replied that the NFL should certainly study the possible efficacy of cannabis used under medical supervision as part of its CTE (chronic traumatic encephalopathy) research program.
The conference also had workshops on cannabis and opioids, featuring NFL players Ricky Williams and Nate Jackson, who spoke about using cannabis to step back from opiates he was given after injuries, so that he, “was able to move on with my health and my life.” Former Pittsburgh Steeler Franco Harris is part of a group in Braddock, Pennsylvania that hopes to research “the efficacy of marijuana in replacing opioids for the long-term management of pain.”
Mara Gordon of Aunt Zelda’s spoke about the research her company is funding in other countries and Dr. Charles Pollack of The Lambert Center for the Study of Medicinal Cannabis and Hemp at Thomas Jefferson University in Philadelphia said that the center, funded by Australian donors, is aiming to have educational materials for both physicians and patients online by the end of summer, at which point they also hope to prioritize their research efforts.
The trade show floor mainly featured ancillary businesses like equipment manufacturers, security companies and other services, since Pennsylvania’s dispensary, cultivation and manufacturing licenses won’t be awarded until late June. An exception was CAMO Medical, a group of veterans who are seeking to cultivate both industrial hemp and medicinal marijuana in nearby Westmoreland County.
Several companies had “legal” CBD products on display; however one of the panelists noted that although parents tend to ask for the cannabis product that “doesn’t get you high,” THC was often more effective for children’s conditions. Dr. Christian Bonger also warned that CBD in large quantities could actually increase agitation in autistic patients, since it is not an agonist to CB2 receptors like THC, but rather a modulator.
Pennsylvania’s law allows only plant extracts, but Senator Daylin Leach, one of the law’s authors, predicted that by the time the state’s program is up and running, the whole plant will be made available to patients, since an advisory board is tasked with producing a recommendation on that subject by next April.
TELL US, have you attended any cannabis events this year?