Cannabidiol: a conversation about the emergence of CBD

INTRODUCTION
by Steve Hyde
Research Associate and Communications Director

For Ethnography into the Human Cannabis Relationship is a collaboration between filmmaker Steve Hyde and social scientist Dominic Corva Ph.D. Ethnographic interviews differ from other kinds of interviews because an ethnographic approach seeks to shine a light on the ways that individual experiences often reflect collective ones.

The human geography story we develop here is a structural story. It’s a geographic tale about the emergence of CBD genetics in the American West. This episode of For Ethnography into the Human Cannabis Relationship is based on an hour-long interview with Christopher Larson, a grower who is a producing member of the TeaHouse Collective known for its emphasis on CBD rich genetics. As an agriculturalist, he is dedicated to growing only organic, sustainable sun-grown cannabis. His creative partnership with Lawrence Ringo produced Lost Coast Botanicals, which, as the website suggests, is source for “CBD and Sustainably Grown Medicinals”

Here we present a story that offers a glimpse into the lives of cannabis growers in Northern California. It’s a glimpse into the lives of people who grow plants collectively to produce medicine, distribute it and gather observational data concerning its efficacy for patients. The discoveries made by experimental cannabis growers have great significance for medicine and science. These creative growers make new discoveries all the time – They reach out to lab scientists for mentorship and guidance in science practices and they experiment in a variety of ways that often produce astonishing results. And the results of the experimentation has been a wide range of useful new treatments for a variety of medical conditions.

This story is about the growers who recognized they had discovered something unique in cannabidiol (CBD). The plants were smaller and didn’t produce as much and the cannabis culture didn’t cultivate it because CBD flowers developed a reputation as something that doesn’t get anybody “high”. This group of growers realized they were growing something different. Maybe it’s in the plants terpenes – they wondered. Lab results of plant material suggested yes, that cannabidiol-rich cannabis does appear to have more myrcene and linalool. Maybe cannabidiol has something to do with that? That question brings us to July, 2015.

Dedicated to the memory of Lawrence Ringo. (featured in the photograph below)

ringo

Summary

This video and its transcription were developed for the purposes of higher eduction. This work is a source of primary data. Typos, mistakes and video recording errors exist. Please contact the Center for the Study of Cannabis and Social Policy to report errors or for a free copy of the video and transcript.

Center for the Study of Cannabis and Social Policy (CASP) is a not-for-profit research think tank dedicated to learning lessons for legal landscapes and studying the human-cannabis relationship.

For Ethnography into the Human Cannabis Relationship
Dominic Corva PhD Interviews Christopher Larson from Lost Coast Botanicals and the Tea House Collective in Humboldt County California.

Interview by Dominic Corva PhD
Video by Steve Hyde

*** Please be advised there are text transcription errors present in this text. (07.18.2015) The dashed line indicates untranscribed speech “_____”. Square brackets [ . . .] indicate subjective translation. ***

AUDIO START (TRT 60 Minutes)

Dr. Corva: So, obviously, Christopher you’ve seen me talk to lots of people, I’ve talked to you already, but for this one, I just want to make sure I remind us about it because sometimes I’ll forget – that the structural story that we want to get at – is the emergence of CBD genetics in United States, in California in particular. And the ethnographic way to get at it is to talk to the people who were in the middle of it and who were, you know, connected to it and it’s less about, okay, this happened then, but more about this is how my life developed in conjunction with it. So, there’s aspects to it that are helpful such as, you know, trying to remember dates as specifically as possible, you know, but general timeframes of the year, let’s just say that the unit is year, if possible, but this also of course besides the CBD genetics getting here, I’d also like to hear the story of how you met Ringo and how that partnership started and to get at that story and through the lens of the social relationships that made it happen.

Christopher: Yeah, that was really my introduction to Lawrence. It was through Cath, you know, his partner, Cath Hart. Cath did festivals for years, you know, music festivals and that’s what we did too. I mean as well with our ____ and our import things and our tools and so forth at music festivals. So, we knew Cath really well, you know, always neighbors and always good energy – a great artist who did beautiful work, I really liked the work a lot and she would talk about her partner, you know, but I thought was that just a business partner? or was that a romantic partner or something? I didn’t really know, you know. And then it turned out to be Lawrence, _____ and so I think it was at the Emerald Cup, one of the Emerald cups in 2009 I guess it was.

Dr. Corva: So, in Laytonville?

Christopher: It must have been yeah because that was ____ at the Mateel or it might have been actually ____ one of the Hempfest at Mateel in 2009, I think that’s what it actually was when Lawrence had started selling his seed and he hadn’t been doing that that long and the thing was it was Cath that really got him into the whole idea of… oh, you need to organize your product to make ____ because she had great experience in doing shows too, I mean selling to the public essentially and he wouldn’t have been able to do it otherwise. He did just, you know, he had an idea and he wanted to be a rock star that was his big thing. He was a hell of musician and so he had a sense of showmanship and being in public, he was comfortable with that, but the rest not a clue. So, I mean they were getting their first little packets of seeds together and so forth and in his first wave of offering to the public. I mean we had all traded seeds with each other for years, you know, and the deal was you’d sell seeds if you had something good and you had a good name for it. [Price was] a buck to three bucks for seeds. That was the going rate for a long time and [for three] it was like people would raise eyebrows a little bit, but if [the seeds] were really good, you know, that was okay. The next step of course was sexed plants, you know, and that was_____ price would vary if you had a nice, healthy sexed plant, you know, that was what was going on, there wasn’t a lot of cloning at that point, you know.

Dr. Corva: Even in 2009?

Christopher: There was cloning going on, but no, not in our neighborhood, you know. People were still doing a good job of stabilizing seed, you know, and so that was what you looked for, you know, there was a hardiness to it and there was a lot of stuff. It was very much associated with indoor – the clones were. So to do that, you know. So anyway, here’s Lawrence and he’s, you know, very much associated with outdoor and growing in the sun and so forth, but he had been buying fancy seeds from Holland and then working that into his breeding program and being bound ____ the seed he was getting from Holland because he felt like they were misrepresenting. you know [he thought] it was all crap. that [the seed] wasn’t what it was supposed to be and so forth and so on, which was the case. I mean it was all over the map and he had the seeds, so great, you know. I wasn’t really ____ He didn’t offer any strains of CBD at that point, but he had identified CBD at that point. It was actually the Sour Tsunami, yeah, Swiss Gold came later into the thing and so he had identified the Sour Tsunami, which was great. He could ____ and he picked up some clones of Cannatonic and Harlequin both. And then he began to breed some seed on it, but that wasn’t what he was supposed to have there. He was supposed to have these other things, Granny Derkel we called it, it was Purple Urkle, you know, the big purples that were so popular, there was a range of them that… what’s his name, cashed in on. It was the Grand Daddy Purple. And this was Lawrence’s little cross. Well, it was great except it turned out it was really high… full of CBD quite high, I mean, you know…

Dr. Corva: The Purple Urkle was?

Christopher: Well, the seed. I was buying seed for them and I grew the seed out and I was expecting to have this really nice stable, you know, ____ product and it turned out to be pretty high in CBD, it _____ with very high CBD and then I got intrigued about the whole thing like, well, how much [CBD] is really in there and there weren’t any labs available at that point. There was Samantha Miller down in Santa Rosa so that was great because there was some way to [test] what was going on. In the meantime, that was the year the same seed she had done that study that showed up in O’Shaughnessy’s comparing seven different phenotypes types out of the ____ based on the Sour Tsunami cross with this and that and [published] a nice chart and so – here was Lawrence – on the one hand how to pack and market and sit there at the table and do things and on the other hand how to actually quantify his seed breeding program, you know, and it was just the beginning [when we] came together and we were just about to form Tea House at that point. So, anyway, [that is how we] developed an interest in breeding because I had been doing [seed] stabilizing.

Dr. Corva: Quick question, so the Purple Urkle was crossed to Sour Tsunami that was then…?

Christopher: Nobody knows whether it was crossed or not. It was all serendipitous. [Pollen was blowing] all over the place, but that was the primary CBD donor probably at that point and any cross to bunch of AC/DC with the Sour Tsunami pollen that he was able to get. That [was the great feat]that he did – was to create male pollen – high CBD so that he could add that to the available clones, you know that was the deal and then also Bill Courtney took an interest and he brought us up a bunch of the Cannatonic clones from Spain that were seeds that he cracked and there was a whole range and it was great, he handed them out there, he handed out a bunch to HPRC – basically and here in Arcata and I got some from them, Aaron had to move his scene, he was freaked out, he gave a bunch of mismarked Cannatonics. Now, the neat story about that is what we call C6 now was marked C6 when I got that from strain from Aaron and it was a 1:1 strain, which is really nice desirable strain quite high overall and I call it C6 because that is what I knew it as, but then I heard down from the workshop, you know, Mark said, no, no, it’s not C6, it must be C18 or C16, you know, it probably was at one time, but unfortunately we kind of notoriously got to call C6 and I feel kind of directly responsible, but that’s what we knew and there was a lot of mixed up stuff, but anyway we started breeding after that and began to, you know, get to understand what we had and you know – section it off and be careful and there were always these little things that we have, but you know we still got mixed up, serendipitous kind of you know cross-pollination that nobody was expecting like Granny Urkle that sort of thing, you know, but out of that so I just — we developed more and more relationship anyway around the breeding and then around the extraction because at that point the next step was okay, how do you quantify, how do you get into some measurable amount and Lawrence was doing ethanol extraction at that time and so it was great he had, it was like rice cooker just basically, which were really set too hot and so the earlier ones were 120 degrees, which is just a little too hot to really control it, but that’s what we had to work with and then it was like, oh, bring it down to 115 degrees is a little slower, but it’s a lot more, you know, safe and then even 110 it will work and so gradually refining that process.

Dr. Corva: What’s not safe about it in higher temperatures?

Christopher: It tends to scorch, it will scorch on the bottom and before you know it, right at the end it will finish, you know, you’ve got a black melted mess, you know, decarboxylated – so that was interesting and so around these various things, you know, we didn’t really, then we began to get real scientific equipment and some basic to organic chemistry practice and understand it, that was pretty cool, but that was quite a bit later so that’s where I knew Lawrence from. It was let’s go in the kitchen and make stuff and that was pretty cool and out of that the thing was, of course, then we had to learn what is CBD, what can it do, you know, what are its properties, you know.

Dr. Corva: Let me ask you real quick and remember that as a book mark – what can it do and so forth, but did you have a little more experience than him at extracting or did you guys both kind of like?

Christopher: We started from the same point of view. I moved down to doing the CO2 and kind of encouraged that. He was still very much into the growing aspect.

Dr. Corva: There seemed to be a partnership.

Christopher: He wanted to be that, yeah, but that’s why it worked so well. I mean we had different areas you could bring together and it just worked really great, you know, and you know he didn’t have moral aversion to BHO but it was clear that this was not, he couldn’t do this in a healthy way and there was such out of, everybody is being so careless and so just greedy and lying basically about, oh, we’ve got completely clean BHO, you know, and really lying about so many things, you know, that was the whole industry, you know, and just a tissue of lies, you know, and that would make him indignant — I loved that about him, he would get indignant about the bull shit, you know, and we had that in common, you know, we kind of wanted to rangle toward what’s really true here, you know, what is really true, you know, and I mean if it wasn’t really pointed out, he would exaggerate things, but once he came to see and what was true, he accepted truth and hold to that, you know, what I mean, it’s like if nobody said anything different, then he didn’t know any better then it’s wonderful – it cure cancer and everything – but once it was cleared and that was not necessarily the case, yeah, he’d endorse that and that was good. So, basically, he was just a really kind of sweet and honorable person, you know, and he was so sweet underneath all the desire to be a rock star and desire for ego gratification and all that stuff, you know, sweet guy, you know, and he had had exposed all the usual crap that all of us get, you know, and got those imprints and he was trying to get over it, you know, and trying to get over being a male chauvinist pig, you know, essentially, (laughs) but he recognizing that he had to do that and willing to make the changes, you know. It was all to brief. And then when he got cancer, it was like we really just couldn’t believe it. We both just looked at each other like what the hell, you know what I mean, and that was his reaction and really before he could start, you know, applying everything possible to treat it, he was dead you know. It took four months from the time that he was diagnosed. We were in LA, actually made a trip down to the workshop, bringing CBD material down there to not well, we would bring some tests stuff to Mark but we were also, another story, but…

Dr. Corva: Yeah. So, that would have been right after the Emerald Cup actually that he was diagnosed, right?

Christopher: It was pretty much after the Emerald Cup. We did that. We recorded a radio show with Kerry Reynolds and that was aired while we here in LA and we listened to it down there because we couldn’t be in the studio that Sunday to do it and he was coughing, he had this horrible hack, it’s like, stay away from me, sharing a room…made me sick, you know. He’s like I don’t know what’s the matter; man I think I got the flu. Well, then a week later, so that’s how I can date it because whatever that date was that show aired that’s when we figured this up and a week later he got an oncologist and said you had to come to see me and two weeks later he was diagnosed with serious lung cancer, stage four – metastasized all through his back, it was really bad.

Dr. Corva: I did visit him in Rico when he was doing the outpatient thing and I did – shortly before he passed – do an exit interview, but that was back at his place with Cath.

Christopher: At least he got to go home at the end run, yeah, so yeah I was there as a hospice volunteer with him and the day before he died and it was coming really fast, that was just…. yeah, he was so bewildered by it, you know, he never got over being so bewildered by it.

Dr. Corva: Yeah, no kidding, yeah. Well, I mean, it’s such a compressed amount of time, I mean for all of us I think in the last six years – no matter what age we started at has been totally, you know, everything has changed, so much has changed.

Christopher: So much did change. It was right at the beginning of the whole idea of quantified medicine and what is in there and what’s going on and at that point it was still, the big race was to see how we can get the THC and that — not that that’s totally blamable, but it’s clear that you know even in the, well, the next thing we liked told Cath was look at this stuff, it won the Emerald Cup where they actually have judges that judge, okay, and it’s different than not, you know, other things and so this is not the high ones, it’s not the high THCs that are appealing ones there. And that’s not the case in the community, I mean for the most part the things that people love and want to come back for but they’re not always like that, but then that was just about pre-dab so that’s all turned into another thing.

Dr. Corva: So much has changed. So, in terms of your education and knowledge about CBD, at what point did you get your first quantified test?

Christopher: That would have been – I mean – in 2010 from Halent Labs as well as mine of course actually went through Halent Lab there and then through an account that Lawrence had. And then also through Samantha, I think I’ve got some ones from Samantha.

Dr. Corva: So, Ringo basically had…had been getting other tests, I’m trying to figure out like, you know, the awareness of CBD, it was there, it was out, the project CBD I think had already been going on a couple of years at that point.

Christopher: Yeah. I think Martin started, yeah, probably just officially started project CBD I think in maybe 2010.

Dr. Corva: So, 2010 and might not happened yet. There seemed to remember like O’Shaugnessey’s was looking at it.

Christopher: Yeah – O’Shaugnessey’s was looking at it.

Dr. Corva: And that would have been obviously like why Martin would know to start project CBD, but I’m trying to wrap my head around the idea of actually like being aware of CBD and trying to brief before you’re actually even getting tests that indicate that you got it.

Christopher: Well, I didn’t really come to it that way. So, I’m saying, well, I guess it basically I did because I had this material that seemed to be really different, you know, what’s the deal, it’s really tasty. It actually turned out to be quite high linalool and myrcene. It was myrcene high and they found this in the Sour Tsunami and it did give this very gratifying feeling, from the neck you could get this physical effect as though your neck was kind of, and shoulders were beginning to just relax and soften, that was the effect it had for me – and I did want to know what was the deal with it so I found it to be really interesting, but you know it’s a hard thing to quantify. I mean, once we understood that was a big component of it, that I was really interested – and then we could begin to compare, you know, what it was like these different ones, but there was nothing about just saying this is a plant and I recognize it before I was told what it was. I didn’t really know what it was. I knew it didn’t get you high the same way. So that much was clear.

Dr. Corva: It strikes me that, you know, the effects that you’re observing saying this plant is different, although of course like the CBD part of it is very important, but also as you mentioned terpenes is that like those effects are coming from not just obviously the CBD, but the entourage effect and so…like.

Christopher: So, some of those plants tend to have those profiles in them, you know, until we’ve seen them in the CBD in particular, I don’t know of any CBD plants that are disassociated from that particular list of terpenes, they may be around, but I don’t grow them, you know, I mean I don’t have those. I haven’t seen them. Even the crosses with, you know, the big leaf Swiss Gold in a step, which we thought we were on to a whole another kind of thing, we called it Indica, you know, it seems like it was like an Indica(y) kind of plant, but it had actually had those same terpenes in it. So, it wasn’t that different.

Dr. Corva: Where did the Swiss Gold come from? Can you elaborate a little bit more on that?

Christopher: The Swiss Gold, that was a bought seed that he had ordered from such place, I presume it was Dutch I mean that’s where all the seed companies were that he worked with and then the other was by way of Canada, you know, there’s bunch of Canadian bunch –Mark Emery is who I ordered stuff from. But Mark never marketed anything as CBD – at least that I was aware of – when he started that, so I am pretty sure that’s where it came from.

Dr. Corva: So, were they marketed as CBD?

Christopher: No, that just turned up. That was the serendipitous discovery and then what was the other one, oh, there was one that was called Oracle that was supposed to be something that it wasn’t and that got to be kind of goofy, Dr. Frankel got all excited about the Oracle, but it was just kind of a feeble AC/DC, which essentially is Cannatonic, so much of it just came out of that first 18 seeds of Cannatonic, but you know the thing is everybody had these memories of the old Oaxacan and the old Michoacan that had the sort of the same feeling to it, you know, that we had not seen in years and years and so there’s no way to go back and know it was high CBD or you know, was that a possibility? But that was the sense, I got. The familiarity went back to something, you know, I mean we all had that experience like, I had this before, but not in years, you know.

Dr. Corva: So, let me back up a moment, 18 Cannatonic seeds, there’s a very precise number; there’s a particular story behind that that I haven’t heard.

Christopher: Oh, you probably have…

Dr. Corva: Maybe, I mean I know from like from Spain, like I know from Spain Cannatonic came. I didn’t…

Christopher: There’s a lab in Berkeley, was one of the earliest genetic, you know, Cannatonic profile labs that Michelle Sexton was associated with. She was actually present when these were done, when these…

Dr. Corva: Right, I remember that. She has told me about that.

Christopher: Yeah, and that’s the place and everything stemmed out of those and then that’s where, that is where, you know, Bill Courtney got his starts from that he got…

Dr. Corva: Is that where the AC/DC line comes from is Bill Courtney?

Christopher: Yeah. Well, I say from theaw seeds.

Dr. Corva: From the seeds, but the Cannatonic seeds Bill Courtney got.

Christopher: I mean physically that’s where I got it from.

Dr. Corva: Right.

Christopher: Now, the backstory about spain and so forth – I don’t really know the details of all of that…that’s where it came from.

Dr. Corva: So, help me out a little bit with AC/DC obviously, you know, most people think of that as distinct from Cannatonic.

Christopher: Well, it appears different, but there’s a whole, like I said, there’s a whole range of these plants that were all part of the same batch as far as I know that expressed themselves differently, and AC/DC is really interesting because it’s got these round stems, it doesn’t have any flat sides on its stem, you know, it’s round, a lot of cannabis has a kind of squared stem or you know corrugated or you know variable, but this is just like a whip and all the little ones and then all the main ones that are tremendously fragile when it’s little and it just breaks if you look at it, but it has some support, it’s fine and then when it dries it’s just super strong. So, that must be some relationship to the hemp plant because you know because hemp has very strong fibers, it was bred for its fibers and certainly it has been that quality but it’s not big, it doesn’t produce a lot.

Dr. Corva: I mean everything you say obviously inspires more thoughts, but this is very interesting because, you know, as I understand with breeding, you know, like one of the things you select for is vigor, and so if you’re selected for vigor, if you don’t know anything else about like AC/DC plant basically like I would assume that that particular type of phenotype would be like first way out the door.

Christopher: Right, if that’s….but see, that’s also to a very high THC content, you know, a lot of the crankier plants are not the ones you choose to grow, they’re not really much fun, oh Jesus, that’s stupid, I mean good lord, you know, and I mean people they’re working on it and they’re more vigorous and better types that nonetheless it would be your first choice from that point of view, from growers point of view, but then so what’s been pointed out is things that are really high out there on the THC spectrum or the CBD spectrum or any other cannabinoid you want to identify are typically going to be a little bizarre in terms of growing patterns. They’re not necessarily most vigorous plants because they’re kind of atypical, you know, anyway and that’s you do see that, you know. So, that was always the tradeoff, the highest numbers what Samantha has taught Lawrence and I learned from Lawrence is the levels stay pretty much the same, the ratios do, but if you just go what we learned from actually growing though is that if you go for the highest number, you won’t necessarily get the best plants, you know, the highest ratio, I should say, okay. And then overall cannabinoids is a big deal too, like you can get these very high ratios, but not very much in the first place. So, take – or select several for a slightly lower ratio and get a much higher overall amount – to me is more desirable but, well, it depends, you know, there’s so many things you’re looking for and I should say, you know, I am basically a self-defense breeder, I stabilized – we keep seed growing forever and we got it really nicely adapted to the coast out there, Train Wreck, you know, that we’re quite happy with you know – seven generations and then we had a big from Douglas – from Doug Fir. For years we’ve had an Afghani – we bred that and bred that, but then we finally lost it, you know, it was just one year we didn’t make seed and that’s the way it is but I was never, you know, I am not, I was never, you know, it was pretty basic, it was not difficult. I never thought it was hard and so it didn’t seem hard, you know, but I realized now we’re pretty fortunate you can take it seriously and breed like crazy and still have trouble getting good results so…

Dr. Corva: Right. In your context, your breeding is being done outdoor, then it’s once a year.

Christopher: That’s right, you know, take forever, you know, six or seven years to get and that was the great acceleration that Lawrence pulled off, but we’re just hitting that too. I mean it wasn’t like it’s been going for a while. Well, you do an indoor crop and then keep going you know so you get it up to two and even three, you know, have one, have two, and have three per year, you know.

Dr. Corva: I mean this is a very good example of like, you know, not being simplistic about like being pro-sun-grown is that, especially for breeding, you know, indoor has an important place.

Christopher: It does, absolutely and we all agreed with that, you know, I mean there is certainly a place for it. It’s not something you just want to ignore. In a larger sense, it’s kind of got the like, any kind of real sense. It was only because it was illegal and needed to be hidden and grown in basements and stuff that that it started, you know, everybody leaned that way. I think that’s got to be pretty thoroughly acknowledged at some point, you know, it doesn’t necessarily produce better material, – the arguments you hear are hilarious.
“I’ll never have anything but indoor” well that’s fine, you know, whatever, with heavy metals and all.

Dr. Corva: Yeah, one of many, many, many urban myths or popular myths about cannabis need to dispelled obviously. So, back to CBD track, I had asked you to sort of bookmark that thought about the effects…and so forth.

Christopher: Well, then, just because we started the cooperative, we made it available for people that was the whole point.

Dr. Corva: Could you talk about it, for obviously I know about it, but…?

Christopher: Yeah. We’ve been a part of a cooperative that was supposed to be basically a farmer to consumer tea house, yeah, collective and that was other people had started that and it was pretty local, sort of by watershed, there were like four watersheds involved essentially and that was the idea to send it down to Berkley to Bay area and distribute it and people would be able to get nice, clean, well grown cannabis, but everybody was just storing in their favorite strain so I think at one point we had 45 different strains or something and it wasn’t really 45 because people were just kind of calling things this and that and that was okay, but I really wanted to see, so that the first year I was going for tea house was the same year I came up with some of the CBD material so I started putting CBD separately and realized that there were people at that point even really trying to find CBD and they were able to. So, that was great so I kind of took it on to be the CBD coordinator essentially and we try to, so I got some clones going from Lawrence and we handed those out to our cooperative, you know, as well as everybody’s seed growing wherever they wanted and again there wasn’t too much clone growing but we could be on the same page and there was some seed growing, we had some seed projects going. I think we had maybe six or seven people signed up to do some seed growing material out of what we knew to be high CBD seed from Lawrence. He was a member at that point, though he kind of closed the membership so a couple of years of that and then we did, we began to develop fair amount of IFC-6 at that point, 1:1, and I had some high 4:1 Cannatonic and then AC/DC and that was the highest at that time, highest CBD that we had and so most of the — there was no effort at really identifying this at the time, you know, it was just kind of word of mouth, but it was going through the TS collective and I just got more and more interested and the patients that were using it were actually finding these great responses to it for really serious medical conditions and three quarters of our people had, oh, I got a back ache, I got a script, wink wink and hey by the way can I get some extra pounds, you know, wait a minute, it was don’t ask, don’t’ tell, anyway. So, when TS Collective floundered because of difficulty of oversight with nobody was in – Distribution ended…it was complicated and we were kind of undercapitalized and stuff anyway and nobody quite knew how to approach this stuff and so by then I just started a new cooperative and by that point I had asked… Lost Coast Botanicals started – and that was Lawrence and me and Cath and then a couple of other people, _____0:32:48 and his partner and with the intention of only growing CBD material and then let’s see where this will go and then got huge, began to get real data, you know, about what was working for people and what wasn’t, it was fascinating because sometimes people would inadvertently get THC material, you know, it didn’t work, that wasn’t helping them. In fact, it was making them really distressed, you know, for these specific people, you know, that had been getting results and suddenly weren’t, okay, really, that’s information, you know, go back to it, fine. Other people couldn’t really tolerate CBD. They found it to be really, oh Samantha can’t take it, she and her partner they only used it for a couple of times, but still you know as they say, it feels like a coke high, you know, like coming down from a coke high they say. something but I guess, you know…

Dr. Corva: I know, right! (laughter) As a point of reference!

Christopher: Yeah, anyway. It’s wiry for them and that’s fine, you know, but absolutely having effects, you know, so really interesting and beyond whatever placebo effects may have and I am in favor of placebo effects. If you can create an effect, great, you know, and a lot of the pharmaceutical drugs actually operate on that…

Dr. Corva: I mean, that’s the effect or the placebo effect is that there is actually an effect.

Christopher: And that’s right, and the reason there is what is because you actually got your own system to respond and kick into doing what you’re supposed to do and then the — you’re cannabinoid system – you’re endocannabinoid system is an amazing thing and barely begun to investigate that and then with addictions and as an antidote to addiction that’s really an interesting aspect and then as an antidote to the other things that they give for dementia, those things and we have actually seen real effects and so as the caregivers, the nurses and home caregivers and everybody so this has actually been witnessed, you know, and the neatest thing about dementia patients is they’re like epileptic patients, the response is really vivid. They’re not there to, you know, oh, maybe I feel like, I don’t know whatever, you just see are they doing better or not, you know.

Dr. Corva: It’s pretty obvious, but there’s a bunch of patients that are being helped, right.

Christopher: Yes, the subjective step was really hard, you know, but you almost take out that whole placebo possibility when you see just direct results, you know, so.

Dr. Corva: I do want to talk to you more about like how you were able to get patients’ feedback; I mean obviously getting it up to dispensary doesn’t mean that patients are going to be tell you how effective you are.

Christopher: No. Well, that’s the difference of our cooperative basically is there is a lot of interaction.

Dr. Corva: Yeah. This is what I want to have you do a little bit more is talk about the Lost Coast Botanical model as it was, the difficulties with it as it developed as well, and also exactly the patient situation.

Christopher: Sure. Well, the real difficulty is that we can’t get the county to give us a business license and a brick and mortar dispensary, although the thing that’s about to change and that’s set us up for a whole complicated view because then we essentially have to be a delivery service and so forth and so on and do that in whatever way we can manage. So, that part has been complicated, but on the other hand we’ve been available by phone and we have tried very hard to develop relationships with practitioners so that they have a source for patients that they want to encourage to use CBD, which has been really hard to do and a quantified source. So, we went into this from an extractive point of view, we’re not looking at selling flowers so we wanted to be able to sell milligrams of CBD and THC in known values. So, just having that available was a big deal.

Dr. Corva: So, can you talk about the economic model whereby that was possible? You’re the extractor and dispenser and how is the product.

Christopher: Well, the way that that has been feasible is that we are a cooperative and not for profit mutual benefit cooperative like REI – so we don’t make a profit as a business. We don’t need to make a profit. If we were making a profit, we have to return it to the producing members, which is fine.

Dr. Corva: Producing members, that’s what I’m trying to get at.

Christopher: Okay, we have two tiers of membership. There are producing members and there are patient members and sometimes they’re the same because we encourage people to grow their own medicine and what we do is provide a number of phenotypes, six to seven different varieties at this point. I mean the first we had hundreds — well, not hundreds, we had about 24 and that’s just way too many and it got really complicated, but the point is we had enough people on the same page that we’d have a note there of small producers some only grow 6 plants – some people grow up 20 to 30. You know, the average really was around 12. We can count it all on the same strain, but that was enough if you have enough people doing it to make significant amounts, okay. Then, we would buy that material from our members at a set price and that…

Dr. Corva: But they knew about when they got the clones.

Christopher: They did know about, yeah, and we’re still holding that price at this point. It could change in response to the market changes, but it’s been really good. It’s really competitive. I mean I don’t mind saying what it is …

Dr. Corva: That’s not necessary information.

Christopher: Yeah, but the point is it’s at a price point where everybody was quite happy with it. It was better than they were actually receiving for high THC material that had to be manicured and graded. You know, we tested for being microbiologically clean and no pesticides and no, you know, that’s essentially what it is, but beyond that, all it has to be is all the trichome bearing parts of the plant. So, no stem essentially, but you know little flowers, you just strip it, it’s very easy to handle, you know, and cure it for…

Dr. Corva: It’s a lot less labor and it’s a lot less expense to actually produce.

Christopher: It is, although it turns out there’s something, you have to keep these batches separate from everything else. You think that would be easy, but hippies are hippies – it’s complicated but, you know, on the whole, everybody has been quite happy with that model, you know, and we’re moving towards full certification, but it’s been difficult to find who is going to do the certification and get it – so we’ve been self-monitored for way too long _____ certification who we decided to go with…

Dr. Corva: This is a huge part of the models, the actual sort of economic partner where like it’s sun grown and pesticide free.

Christopher: Well, that what always our model.

Dr. Corva: That is what patients should be getting.

Christopher: Yeah, exactly. And then beyond that we used to do ethanol extraction and CO2 extraction, but at this point we’re pretty much doing CO2 extraction. CO2 as compared to other extraction methods is the instruments themselves are expensive, but the operating costs aren’t too bad, CO2 is not expensive and we recycle, you know, we have a closed loop so it’s not like we’re just blowing it off, you know, and that but it kind of capture everything and concentrated really hard like BHO can or other solvents, petrochemical solvents, but it doesn’t leave any residue so all things considered it’s the cleanest thing we can come up with and we get pretty good yield. I mean we’ve been working on it. We can get, you know, about between 60 to as much as 85 grams return per pound, you know, which is good.

Dr. Corva: It’s about 12%, 14%, 12% to 14%.

Christopher: We hit the 14 to 17%. We have gone as high as 17.

Dr. Corva: Yeah, it’s excellent.

Christopher: Yeah, it’s not that we started it.

Dr. Corva: 10-12 is kind of a cut rate like baseline.

Christopher: I know, we started it between 10 to 12 and after getting more skilled with our equipment, we can now bring it in pretty close so we can count 14-15, you know, and that’s adequate, that’s fine, that’s a good enough against our price point, you know, for ____ so anyway but we’re just being for purely extractive material it really is, and then a limited number of, you know, phenotypes that we’re growing, it works pretty well, it’s a good model. So, as that becomes available, we have more and more people reaching out to us to get the material. The other thing is we’ve provided the material for a lot of people who are much better known than we are for product, you know, but it’s our product in those CBD elixirs, you know, so that’s fine, we’re happy to contribute to that. I just want to see more out there.

Dr. Corva: Yeah. Can you say some of the folks that might be carrying the product?

Christopher: Well, right at the moment, I don’t know if I’m supposed to, but I…

Dr. Corva: If you don’t know, don’t worry about it.

Christopher: It’s varied over time and you know a lot of people have taken the same model we’re doing and applied it and now they’re producing their own material. I can say _____0:43:14 because they wouldn’t have any problem with that _____ to say but, beyond that yeah, for the CBD material.

Dr. Corva: And so the primary way then that folks are, the patients take their medicine is through the vape pen is that correct?

Christopher: No, not really. I mean the vape pen is great. It’s a great way to get a quick infusion that will also dissipate pretty quickly too, but you can reach for it in the middle of the night, you can take it as needed. Yeah, it’s a great way to do it, but I would say only maybe a quarter of our serious patients really on a vape pen – we do capsules; we do 5 mg increments so you can titrate up or down. A big deal is not to get too much for a lot of people. And we do a tincture that’s 4 to 5 sprays equals 1 ml and then there are 5 mg per milliliter or 10 mg per milliliter. We do different…

Dr. Corva: Is that a decarboxylated tincture?

Christopher: It is, yeah, it has to be, decarboxylated, but that’s the nice thing about the vape pen, I mean it’s less fussy, but we do suppositories, tinctures and capsules and the capsules are just in coconut oil, which is you can’t let it go overheated, it’s a little fussy, we like to be able to put it in gel caps, but the machinery for that is really expensive and be lot more stable that way.

Dr. Corva: What about transdermal patches?

Christopher: We haven’t done that. People do, you know, it’s a possibility. You know, it absolutely is an option. We do a lot of topical stuff and to get a kind of transdermal effect. We did some experimentation with…but the problem is the carrier carries stuff in, so _____, but it carries everything along with it and it’s a really touchy kind of thing to use and so it really wasn’t comfortable offering that to patients. So, we’ll offer advice on how to do that for yourself if you want, but it’s a little touchy. It’s a great carrier though, but it will carry everything and you can have it carry stuff you don’t want.

Dr. Corva: Right, that’s the tricky part, right.

Christopher: I am really happy where we got to. Not transdermal, but I mean we did so much heavy lifting just to get to this point and way more than we really should have, you know, to stay viable, but because of this we worked really directly with patients. I mean we craft what patients ask for, I mean we make ratios specifically for what people feel they need or what their physicians tell them they need and so that’s been a big deal and because we’re accessible and because we go over great lengths to provide what people need we have a lot of data because people have really shared their stuff with us and we also work with the Society of Cannabis Clinicians – you know, those guys are really great and there is a module that they produce now that I think anybody that’s selling the stuff in dispensaries or purporting to offer medical cannabis ought to have taken that course at the very least, you know, really. I mean it should be mandatory, I mean to have some basic working information and it’s pretty good course, I mean really is, there’s a lot of big holes in it because real information is still not there – it’s scarce, but it’s got everything currently available pretty much on cancers, on PTSD, on epilepsy, dosage information, pediatric work, autism, not enough autism stuff, but some and the autism carries over to dementia because it seems like the same response is going on. There is a kind of spectrum of autism is now well, it’s been called an endocannabinoid deficiency syndrome because it’s been so linked to that response autoimmune response.

Dr. Corva: Yeah, Dr. Ethan Russo is doing research about that.

Christopher: Yeah, exactly, he’s got some new research that he is about to publish about that. Have you heard anything about that?

Dr. Corva: Not about his forthcoming necessarily, but he did give a talk actually just last month in Tacoma, it was an endocannabinoid deficiency talk so I assume that’s from the work he’s probably about to publish.

Christopher: Yeah, that and then the terpene stuff because he’s going to do that at the ICC thing and Halifax that so big deal.

Dr. Corva: Yeah, Michelle Sexton is going to be there too.

Christopher: Yeah, great. I wish I could be there….If I had the credentials….

Dr. Corva: Yeah, we’ll – we would give you some credentials, for sure…. In terms of like the data that you’re gathering, I’d like to just ask, you know…. One of the primary arguments against, you know, medical cannabis is the lack of research, which of course is totally man-made. (laughter)

Christopher: That’s why we do this on run I mean if it wasn’t illegal we wouldn’t have to do it this way. It would be obvious that will be fine, but it’s not obvious and yet people are suffering. So, we’re going to go ahead and do what we can, you know, until they absolutely tell us we can’t, you know, and they haven’t really told us that, you know, so..

Dr. Corva: What are the most promising areas for you given that you’ve seen — that you’ve lived this data.

Christopher: Yeah, palliative care in dementia. Those are the areas that I really want to concentrate on because I see that as the biggest potential for very clear and consistent results, yeah.

Dr. Corva: For the reasons we got into before. What’s it like working with older people who may be haven’t consumed cannabis before?

Christopher: It’s pretty great because there is nothing wrong with feeling good and once people get over that and acknowledge it, there are wonderful results, you know. It’s really astonishing how many people say, “God, I always thought this stuff was the demons thing – the devils dandruff – it’s terrible, it’s awful you know, oh God… but really it’s the only thing that helps me and thank you so much”… and I mean it’s like that over and over, you know, so what’s wrong with that, you know. I don’t see why… I don’t understand how it got that way… (laughter) But there it is…

Dr. Corva: It’s a long story, right?

Christopher: Yeah, it is as we know, but then the other really interesting thing is what has been kind of just submerged and left out of traditional cannabis using cultures that used to be really common knowledge and have now been suppressed out this whole deal, you know, like ayurvedic stuff that we’re talking about. How much of that was once well known and is now just kind of submerged under this notion that it must be bad, you know, so….

Dr. Corva: So, a scientific agenda can take cues from you know essentially lost knowledge.

Christopher: I think so.

Dr. Corva: That’s a rediscovery effort could be one way to go about it. What worries me is that, you know, the public discourse about creating more scientific knowledge as if it never existed before and doesn’t exist now and the effort to essentially bring in to the framework of modernity you know, essentially cannabis as a medicine, and modernity’s main problem seems to be its total rejection that anything came before it that was valid at all.

Christopher: Right. That’s too bad, you know, eventually, begrudgingly you have to admit that there were, hints that it must have been useful, you know, they usually tout out aspirin and a few other things as an example, but you know yeah that’s just unfortunate. The part that I find unfortunate is that there is a spiritual aspect to it that it really can’t address and that spiritual aspect is something that benefits our whole lives, not just our health. You know, our health is one manifestation of our physical, of our spiritual condition, you know, and sciences can’t bear that out, you know…

Dr. Corva: Yeah, they don’t have the tools to deal with that.

Christopher: They really don’t and it’s okay, you know, but it still is unfortunate.

Dr. Corva: It’s possible that, you know, radical psychologies somehow, the stuff in that direction.

Christopher: Well, it is because of the whole influence of the state of mindfulness and neuroplasticity in general, which is intimately linked to the endocannabinoid system is kind of now bringing into new possibilities that are quantifiable in some way that they can begin to go oh, well, there is a tangible something that we can look at, you know, but a lot of it is not going to remain, you can see the effects, but you can’t see how it’s generated and therefore it doesn’t exist, you know, and that sucks, you know, it’s so unfortunate that that’s the case.

Dr. Corva: Yeah. It comes from a misunderstanding of science itself. I think that the public somehow because of education system, because of commodification of knowledge, thinks about science as the decider of like everything that anything that can’t be verified by the scientific method is therefore not real and the whole point of scientific method actually is to deal with the unknown. If you don’t acknowledge that you can’t explain some things, then you can’t do science.

Christopher: Well, it’s also based on this model that everything is fixed and that you get the same reproducible results every time if conditions are same but conditions are never the same. The thing is everything does in fact change on an amazing level and until that’s acknowledged this moment is this moment, next moment will be that moment and the same things may not hold true and even in science you see this crazy bell curve deal where they can’t get reproducible thing with the same supposed conditions, but…

Dr. Corva: So, what is the acceptable range of variability? I think is also what the more sophisticated model.

Christopher: I know. It reaches out like that.

Dr. Corva: Is it start with a simple model and then like you introduce variables, but the thing is that like well, like the papers themselves they’re usually pretty good about acknowledging the limits of findings and what else needs to be done, the media around it never does like these are the results and like everybody this is your new truth now run with it … It’s very frustrating.

Christopher: I guess what I am trying to lead up to though is that there is I don’t see cannabis itself as being in itself, by itself this great panacea, I think there’s other factors that have to come into play with our, the way we see ourselves and our relationship to where we are.

Dr. Corva: And so this is a cultural thing that as cannabis enters the spheres of legitimacy, let’s say whether or not their legality is an issue. As as it does so, it becomes fetishized, it’s all about just cannabis and they’re for like, okay, we’re just going to…whereas like, you know, part of cannabis culture, if we can use that term, historically comes from a place of actually understanding how it’s part of a greater ecology or set of ecologies, essentially. And this, you know, I guess might be one reason why I have an interest in somehow carving out some space for an approach to cannabis that isn’t fetishizing it, but at the same time, you know, like – it’s difficult to know how do you balance that with actually sort of, you know, putting it aside and making it completely irrelevant and actually putting it in the greater context…

Christopher: But the culture itself, I mean is so in danger of being exploited for its you know – money gain and so forth capitalistic virtues – that’s a real problem too, it’s a real danger and – I mean I am not at all comfortable with a lot of the cannabis industry and the whole damn thing and you know the whole spin around it, it’s really unfortunate that it’s stuck in this corner and I’d like to see it broaden out into a whole other dialogue. Anything can be abused, I mean anything can be abused and cannabis is absolutely no exception and just to say, oh, whoopee – here we go and legalize it and things like that. I don’t like to see that either. I don’t like to that happen with booze and I don’t like to see it with flowers, you know. I mean if it was just flowers, that would probably be fine, but it’s not, you know.

Dr. Corva: And that’s, you know, the concentrate industry, it just happens approximately same period of time…

Christopher: Exactly and I mean – I was contributing to that just completely because, you know, these very things that we do can be used in all kinds of different ways, but the idea is – the smallest effective dose. That is what we are looking for here you know, and that it really should be true of almost any medicine and it turns out it almost can start operating like a homeopathic level, it’s not huge amounts necessarily with great results amazingly enough, you know. And in fact you get better results when you get a smaller amount than you’re doing a bigger amount, you know, in a lot of cases, but it’s not totally clear to me by any means. I wish it was, but it’s not, you know, how that works. So, you know, that’s my take of it.

AUDIO END

Video Produced by

Steve Hyde

Video produced for

Center for the Study of Cannabis and Social Policy
6701 Greenwood Ave N. Seattle WA. 98103 (2015)

References:
Lost Coast Botanicals tribute to Lawrence Ringo

O’Shaugnessey’s

Steve Hyde

research professional with a background in the humanities and geographical sciences. I design geographic information systems and make social and cultural documentary films.