For about a decade, I led a think tank of research & development scientists affiliated with the most prestigious academic medical centers in the world. Our mission was to discover improved protocols to manage and cure disease. One day, I decided to escape the ivory tower and work hands-on within a healthcare delivery system. I […]
For about a decade, I led a think tank of research & development scientists affiliated with the most prestigious academic medical centers in the world. Our mission was to discover improved protocols to manage and cure disease.
One day, I decided to escape the ivory tower and work hands-on within a healthcare delivery system. I accepted a 100% travel position and lived out of a suitcase for the next six years, as I traveled from city to city and provided consulting services to teaching hospitals. While on assignment in Denver, I crossed paths with a medical marijuana master grower. He received numerous awards for marijuana cultivation, including several High Times Cannabis Cups, and was rightfully considered by many to be the best grower in the U.S. As we exchanged career stories, I was intrigued by the similarities and synergies of our work. What I found truly amazing was the positive outcomes achieved with cannabis in the treatment of disease. However, at that time, there were very few published results regarding the medical benefits of cannabis.
Unsettled by the lack of scientific studies or clinical trials, I was eventually driven to another dramatic life change. Still in my late 30’s, I decided to take a very early retirement, drop out of corporate America, and dedicate my life to documenting and proving the positive effects of cannabis as a treatment to combat disease.
After examining countless marijuana strains and documenting their therapeutic value, trends linking cannabinoid/terpene profiles to positive outcomes in disease management slowly emerged. Strains with high concentrations of cannabinoids and terpenes can effectively combat disease when the correct cannabinoid/terpene ratios are maintained. The positive outcomes demonstrated by these combinations are often exponentially more effective than expected. Other researchers who witnessed similar phenomenon coined the term Entourage Effect to described the occurrence. A single cannabinoid or terpene may have no effect on alleviating a symptom of a condition. However, when multiple terpenoids are combined, or when terpenes act synergistically with cannabinoids, their entourage effects have strong healing qualities that no pill, cannabinoid and terpene can achieve on its own.
Cannabinoids and terpenes can work independently to deliver a positive therapeutic effect. However, when cannabinoids are consumed in tandem or in conjunction with terpenes, they can regulate one another, create a unique effect or provide a substantially stronger effect. This breakthrough demonstrates that cannabis can be capable of much more than merely alleviating a symptom of a disease or improving the health of a patient who was compromised by the side effects of pharmaceutical medicine. My research suggests that cannabis may provide an all-natural cure for diseases that are currently incurable.
This research led to the realization that two large groups of individuals can benefit from these findings. The first group has medical conditions which cause them to persevere with their symptoms because they do not know that an all-natural, safe, effective treatment is available. The second group are currently undergoing treatment for medical conditions. However, their current treatment causes side effects that significantly degrade their health and quality of life.
Equipped with this groundbreaking information, I reached out to the master grower, who originally set me down this path. Together we met with a select few of my like-minded colleagues to craft a plan providing an effective treatment alternative for unfortunate individuals who suffer from debilitating conditions. We decided to open a state of the art medical marijuana cultivation facility, where we could nurture and study cannabis. We set a goal to deliver flower, with high concentrations of cannabinoids and terpenes existing in the precise ratios that best provide treatment capable of improving their health. To achieve this goal and make my dreams come true, Greenway Medical was born.
Although several years have passed since my journey first began, very little clinical research had been released on the medicinal attributes of cannabis. Nearly all reputable research facilities refuse involvement in medical cannabis research. Unfortunately, medical marijuana is federally illegal. If a research facility performs clinical trials documenting the effects of medical marijuana without federal government approval, its ability to receive grant money and funding for other research projects is placed in jeopardy.
One of the main reasons cannabis cannot be tested for medicinal attributes is tied to the DEA (Drug Enforcement Agency) drug schedule. This schedule is used to categorize drugs depending upon their acceptable medical use, abuse or dependence potential. These factors are used in placing a drug into one of five (5) distinct categories or schedules.
Schedule 1 contains drugs that are defined as having no currently accepted medical use and a high potential for abuse. These are the party favors that our parents warned us about! Included on this list is heroin, a drug that has ruined or taken American lives for well over a century. Other Schedule 1 culprits are lysergic acid diethylamide (LSD), peyote, methaqualone, and 3,4-methylenedioxy-methamphetamine (MDMA or Ecstasy). Also on the blacklist is the weed with roots in Hell – cannabis! Many individuals believe that the Schedule 1 classification of cannabis is paradoxical since so many physicians regularly approve medical marijuana use for their patients and medical marijuana has been successfully used in the treatment of addiction to pharmaceutical drugs such as OxyContin, as well as it’s illegal cousin, heroin.
Over this past summer, an attempt was made to correct the erroneous classification of pot. However, on 8/11/16, the DEA once again denied reclassification and released its decision to keep cannabis in its current Schedule 1 status. Our federal government considers cannabis to have no medical use, while 44 states have adopted medical cannabis law and 29 states created comprehensive medical cannabis programs. Two million patients have been granted access to medical cannabis and cannabis products under state laws.
In its 70 years of existence, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has never documented a single case involving marijuana as the cause of death. However, last year in the U.S., 435,000 deaths were caused by tobacco, 85,000 deaths were caused by alcohol, 32,000 deaths were caused by prescription drugs and 7,600 deaths were caused by aspirin. As a side note, THC, a compound found only in cannabis, has 20 times the anti-inflammatory power of aspirin. Countless incarcerated citizens can attest that the most dangerous scenario involving marijuana is getting busted.
In Nevada, medical marijuana is legal at the state level. To assure consumer safety, it is required that a sample of each strain of each harvest be analyzed by an independent laboratory. The lab must measure the concentration of several components found in the strain and document their Certificate of Analysis. The analyzed cannabis components can be grouped into six panels. The first two panels: terpenes and cannabinoids are beneficial in the treatment of disease. The other four panels, Microbial, Mycotoxin, Pesticide/Growth Regulator and Heavy Metal contain items that can be harmful to humans.
Terpenes or Terpenoids are all flavor and fragrance components, or essential oils, found in plants. They are prevalent in human diets and have been generally recognized as safe by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration and other regulatory agencies. The use of aromatic plants in medicine dates back thousands of years. The study of essential oils deals with the administration of terpenes for their therapeutic value and has also been practiced for over a millennium. The term Aromatherapy was coined in the late 1920’s and is based on the essential oils.
Up to 200 terpenes have been identified in cannabis, but only 21 of them are measured in Nevada’s major cannabis testing laboratories. A terpene, on its own, can provide medical benefit to a patient. For example, a-humulene has been used as an anorectic or appetite suppressant since the early practice of ancient Chinese medicine. a-humulene is usually found in sativa and sativa-dominant cannabis strains which are known to suppress appetite.
Cannabinoids, unlike terpenes, are only found in the cannabis plant. They affect the body and mind through their interaction with special receptors. THC is the most popular cannabinoid, as it is strongly psychoactive, thus producing euphoria and time dilation – the feeling of being high. The most up and coming cannabinoid is CBD, a non-psychoactive compound that has been shown to be extremely valuable in the treatment of seizure disorders such as multiple sclerosis and epilepsy. Its lack of psychoactivity makes it ideal in treating children, the elderly and patients that prefer to remain clear headed and focused.
Although at least 85 types of cannabinoids exist, the major cannabis testing laboratories in NV measure only 11. Cannabinoids are a perfect fit for specialized receptors found throughout the brain, nervous system, and immune system of the human body. B-myrcene is often considered one of the most important terpenes. It possesses very special properties, including lowering the resistance across the blood to brain barrier. It can allow itself and many other chemicals to cross the barrier easier and more quickly. When coupled with a cannabinoid like THC-A, b-myrcene improves its uptake, thus allowing it to take effect more quickly.
Starkiller, an indica-dominant hybrid strain of medical marijuana, that quickly gained popularity in Nevada as a treatment for insomnia, has a high THC-A content (often approaching 30%) and high levels of b-myrcene (usually 4 – 8 mg/gr). Both compounds have been used to alleviate insomnia.
In fact, there are several promising applications based on the combined use of cannabinoids and terpenes, such as:
- Acne therapies utilizing CBD with the three terpenes limonene, linalool, and pinene
- New antiseptic agents with CBG and pinene
- Treatment of social anxiety disorder using CBD with limonene and linalool
- Treatment of sleeping disorders by adding caryophyllene, linalool, and myrcene to 1:1 CBD/THC extracts
The microbial panel tests for the presence and concentration of yeast, mold, bacteria and other compounds that are harmful to humans. A state mandated limit has been set for the number of CFU/g (colony forming units per gram) that are identified in the marijuana sample being tested.
Pesticide/Growth Regulator Analysis
Pesticides and nutrients are fed to plants during their growth cycle. Some pesticides and nutrients can be harmful to the health of humans. The ppm (parts per million) of each compound must fall below their mandated limit.
The Mycotoxin panel contains poisonous chemical compounds produced by certain fungi that can cause disease and death in humans. The ppb (parts per billion) of each contaminate must fall below their mandated limit.
Heavy Metal Analysis
These metallic chemical elements threaten human health. Exposure to lead, cadmium, mercury and arsenic in a relatively low concentration is poisonous. However, high density exposure is toxic. Each marijuana sample must be tested for the presence of these metals. The test result must be below the ppb limit.
Each substance listed on the Microbial, Pesticide/Growth Regulators, Mycotoxin or Heavy Metals Panel can be harmful to the health of humans. To assure the health safety of humans who encounter the lot of tested marijuana, none of these substances can be present in a concentration above its mandated limit. If one limit is exceeded the entire lot will fail testing and cannot be sold as medical marijuana flower in the state of Nevada.
With education anpractice, a patient can learn to interpret the terpene and cannabinoid result values of a strain and accurately predict its smell, taste and most importantly the medical effect. After sampling and comparing multiple strains, they can select one which best treats their condition. Many patients find it useful to divide their medicine into two groups, daytime and nighttime medication. Your daytime medication can include strains that effectively relieve stress, promote mental focus and increase energy. Your nighttime medication can allow relaxation and alleviate anxiety.
As time passes, additional value and new uses for medical marijuana will be uncovered. I began my studies with a focus on alleviating the unpleasant side effects caused by addictive pharmaceutical medication. Soon after, I was pleasantly surprised to discover that medical marijuana, with the correct profiles, can not only alleviate side effects caused by pharmaceutical remedies, but can also act as an all-natural cure.
Constant quality improvement of a strain’s genetics coupled with precise organic nutrient regiments and state-of-the-art grow techniques can produce cannabis flower possessing the precise cannabinoid-terpenoid ratios required in cannabis-based therapies that do not merely alleviate symptoms but completely cure diseases.
On November 6, 2016, the Nevada Marijuana Legalization Initiative, also known as Question 2, was passed. It intends to increase the availability of marijuana to adults in our state. Hopefully our federal government will soon recognize the medicinal value of cannabis and realize that cannabis prohibition has a disastrous effect on the overall health of the United States.
It’s impossible to spell healthcare without THC!
Nick Hatalski, MBA is Chief Operating Officer of Greenway Medical, LLC. He has over 30 years of internationally recognized expertise as an engineer, researcher and consultant within the healthcare sector.
Greenway Medical, LLC is a cultivator of premium medical marijuana and is in Unincorporated Clark County, NV. Their award-winning flower is harvested on a weekly basis to ensure freshness and availability. They are committed to produce boutique, small batch MMJ specifically directed towards combating disease. They are licensed to serve dispensaries and production facilities within the city of Las Vegas and throughout the state of Nevada. They were awarded First Place in the 2015 High Times U.S. Cannabis Cup for their Sativa Flower, Ghost Train Haze. For additional information, please contact firstname.lastname@example.org