CASP Presents: CBD It’s Time for a Conversation


From left to right:  Dr. Corva, Martin Lee, Alison Bigelow, Dr. Sexton, and Christopher Larson
From left to right: Dr. Corva, Martin Lee, Alison Bigelow, Dr. Sexton, and Christopher Larson

Photo by Doug McVay of Drug War Facts

Video by Steve Hyde

by Dominic Corva, Executive Director

This year our signal contribution to the nation’s largest “protestival” was a Saturday Hemposium tent panel titled “CBD: it’s time for a conversation.”  We are very honored to have one of Sonoma County’s finest, Martin Lee of Project CBD, presenting alongside one of Sohum’s finest, Christopher Larson of Lost Coast Botanicals;  Dr. Michelle Sexton, CASP Executive Medical Research Director and founder of Phytalab; and Alison Bigelow, Washington State CBD rich breeder and patient advocate. for a 45 minute long conversation followed by Q&A.  An introduction of sorts to the conversation can be had by visiting Fred Gardner’s piece here, Michelle’s interview by Martin here, a previous piece in the Ganjier here, and an excellent essay by “William Breathes” over at Toke of the Town here.

The purpose of this particular conversation was to put breeding, growing, extraction, analysis, and distribution knowledge together in one place in order to develop an agenda for CBD-rich cannabis medicine for patients that isn’t shaped by a political and economic agendas that have nothing to do with patients, and to have that conversation in a forum for advancing the cannabis peace at large.  The panel was carefully selected to include CASP associates who have been working with CBD rich cannabis in different capacities, and hence to be “interdisciplinary.”  We were very privileged to have Fred Gardner, Martin Lee’s collaborator on both Project CBD and O’Shaughnessy’s, asking questions from the audience.

My goal, as always, was to open up the conversation so that the public and policymakers could peek beyond the headline hype at the reality of CBD’s potential medical benefits.  Here’s a tip: it works best in conjunction with, not separated from, other cannabinoids but especially THC.  If you click on the primer links above you can get previously published, detailed analyses along these lines.  However, those links won’t get you to the voice that has been heard least, but is just as significant as the others: that of Alison Bigelow.

Alison has a “Douglas Hiatt” collective garden, which in Washington means a garden that has stayed under the radar while others have opened up storefronts and sought the media spotlight.  It is a nonprofit operation, with thin margins and small batch production, but embedded deeply in Seattle’s medical marijuana community.  Her strain “Plum” was the strain around which Dr. Sunil Aggarwal built his Ph.D. medical cannabis ethnography while we were in grad school together in the mid-00s.  Since then she has been working with Ringo’s high CBD genetics and getting by, a situation made more difficult by how hard it is to accommodate lower-income patients while staying afloat.

This is one of the great paradoxes of CBD-rich markets right now:  there is massive growing demand, very few suppliers, and the demand tends to be from lower income patients who couldn’t afford the true market price of high CBD medicine.  Into the void has stepped opportunists, charlatans, and every combination of both, slinging industrial hemp sludge from China on Amazon and claiming that their strain somehow is the only CBD rich strain that works. The money made by the opportunists flows to states like Utah and Florida, where conservative legislators can feel comfortable promoting “CBD-only” legislation.  Martin’s critique of this was, as usual for him, to the point: we are re-purposing the Reefer madness fear of THC by turning CBD into its “good” alternative, so we can safely reinforce the “badness” of THC.  As all the panelists pointed out, patients and researchers are finding that strains that have a robust balance of cannabinoids are more effective as medicine for most conditions.