The first thing I noticed was how many golf carts were zipping around the Florida Saddlebrook Resort and Spa registration area. My goodness, you are more likely to get hit by a golf cart than spot any participant lighting up a pipe or joint. This conference was clean and well-lit.

Dennis P. St. Pierre-Charles, one of the con’s organizer, explained the timing of the gathering. Organizers fully thought the 2017 Florida Legislature would implement the medical cannabis amendment passed by 71 percent of the voters, but because of a power struggle, the Senate recessed three days early in a snit. Disappointment and anger followed this selfish legislative move. The status quo remains.

So, the three-day conference was delayed. St. Pierre-Charles laughed out loud when an attendee noted the time change and remarked of “the best laid plans Of Mice and Men” philosophy.

Presenters ranged from physician CEU’s classes to general information under a specific subject. There was a brief history of cannabis followed by an advocacy speaker. One of the many surprising statistics that were revealed at this cannacon, my shorthand for the medical cannabis conference, was that out of 37,000 dispensaries in this country, only a paltry one percent is owned by minorities.

Rosalind McCarthy, founder of Minorities for Medical Marijuana, also noted that African-Americans are four times more likely to get arrested than whites. So, there is a distinctive absence of minorities in the cannabis biz at all levels.

McCarthy, a medical marijuana (MMJ) advocate, said to properly lobby for an issue, the fire must be in your belly. You have to be passionate about your chosen subject:

  • Know it
  • Live it
  • Love it
  • Own it

Is the advice she gives for making an impression on a politician or any policy-maker.

The Medical Side of Cannabis

Six million Americans, 55 and older, smoking a blunt in their Florida sunrooms, basements, mancaves or living rooms. That’s the reality in this country in 2016. Who knows what the numbers may be for this year.

Most of these smokers may be staving off the effects of aging unknowingly. First a little science lesson, courtesy of Dr. Genester Wilson-King, CEO and medical director of Victory Rejuvenation Center, Inc.

Oxidation is defined as the interaction between oxygen molecules and different substances contacted. Oxygen free radicals, or electron molecules, are the products of oxidation. So, oxidative stress occurs when there are too many free radicals and not enough anti-oxidants. What researchers have found is that cannabis mitigates the effects of oxidative stress, CBD and THC are the active compounds. CBD was found to be 30 to 50 percent more effective as an anti-oxidant than vitamin A and E.

Free radical-induced inflammation is the inability of the organism to protect against aging. Medical cannabis is a much better anti-inflammatory than most over-the-counter medications. CBD locks into CB2 receptors found predominately in the body. THC locks into CB1 receptors, some of which are on immune system cells.

Hey, dig this stat: those 65 or older make up 14 percent of the American population but is responsible for 30 percent of prescriptions. Adult chronic pain is a very common complaint as one ages.

In those states where medical cannabis is legal and available, scientists have found that there is a 24 percent drop in opioid deaths and a 30 percent drop in opioid prescriptions. Hmmm, one has to wonder, yeah?

Preliminary research has noted that use of both cannabis and opioids will have a synergistic effect upon nociceptive pain; sedation; hypertension and GI tract activity. The use of cannabis with opioids helps to extend the effective effects of the opioid.

National Health Care

A study published in 2013, researched the effect of medical marijuana state programs on Medicare and Medicaid. Well the results were surprising. Prescriptions for narcotics dropped by 35 percent; 13 percent drop in opioid prescriptions; 12 percent lowering of anti-depressant scripts, and a nine percent fall off of non-opioid medications.

This information is important as the national debate on cuts to Medicare and Medicaid rages around us. Fiscally, it looks like a good move to legalize MMJ in all states to garner these savings.

Other lectures ranged from best industry practices to dosing practices for MMJ patients to breaking into Florida’s cannabis industry.

This Florida Medical Cannabis Conference was well-organized with a variety of exhibitors such as the CannaMoms, a group of moms advocating for MMJ for their ill children; to petition pushers, to vaping and other much more technical machines for cannabis medical production. Overall, this was a great cannacon with participants from across the country. Growers mixed with physicians and advocates resulting in interesting and diverse conversations. This was a great Industry gathering, I’d recommend the next one which is possibly slated for summer 2017.Look for it, it will be well worth your while.