Cannabis Leaders Gather for First Institute of Cannabis Research Conference

Cannabis Leaders Gather for First Institute of Cannabis Research Conference

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Image Courtesy of Chloe Sommers

Colorado adds another unique endeavor to its list of innovative and cutting-edge cannabis work with the first annual Institute of Cannabis Research (ICR) conference at Colorado State University in Pueblo. The Institute has partnerships with CSU Pueblo, the state of Colorado, and Pueblo County.

The academically-focused ICR 2017 conference took place the last weekend of April and brought together the best and brightest minds working with cannabis.

The international, multidisciplinary cannabis research conference demonstrated the vast reach of the new Institute with top docs traveling from all over the globe to southern Colorado for the conference. The most notable speaker was the world-renowned cannabis scientist, Dr. Raphael Mechoulam.

The international attendance also represents the culmination of the concerted effort amongst both the medical and scientific communities to build a wealth of information about the mysterious plant.

The father of cannabis in Pueblo

Dr. Raphael Mechoulam is an organic chemist by trade and recognizable to anyone who knows the history of cannabis. From his work at the Hebrew University in Israel, he’s published hundreds of scientific articles as well as dozens of patents from his work with cannabinoids.

CSU Pueblo President Lesley Di Mare introduced the legend. “We have the father of cannabis research,” she said, “Dr. Mechoulam a prominent figure in cannabis research and his discoveries are the basis for all research today. It’s a historical event and we are deeply appreciative.”

cannabis-leaders-gather-for-first-ICR-conference
Image Courtesy of Chloe Sommers

The audience was in for a rare treat as Mechoulam normally participates in U.S. conferences via Skype. This year, Mechoulam’s keynote speech was essentially a lecture on organic chemistry and cannabinoids.

When asked about his consistent calls for more cannabis research and whether scientific research is as encouraged as clinical, Dr. Mechoulam told me, “They are both very important but there are not enough people doing clinical trials.” Mechoulam’s words carry weight in the cannabis world and his call to action is conducting more clinical research.

The keynote lecture was appropriately called the Mechoulam Lecture and stands to be a staple of the conference for years to come.

CBD Outlook in Pueblo

Following the ICR 2017 conference, the Pueblo Convention Center was teeming with talent from the CBD sector at the third annual CBD Outlook. The separate, one-day CBD conference focused on CBD and Industrial Hemp. Expert speakers came to Pueblo, Colorado from the health and hemp industries. Professionals such as Martin Lee of Project CBD and the CEO of NuVue Pharma, Dr. Malik Hasan were in attendance.

“We are missing the clinical research to prove it works,” said Lee of Project CBD, but “cannabis as a treatment for opiate addiction in many ways could be a tipping point for lawmakers on the precipice of being open to reforming their local laws to allow it.”

From the CBD Outlook stage Dr. Hasan said the foundational work was complete for the research to begin at CSU Pueblo. He also adds that there’s still tons of potential to be tapped when it comes to creating a path forward for cannabis research.

Hasan’s impact on Colorado’s health

Dr. Hasan has a track record of success in Colorado. After decades of study at some of the world’s most prestigious schools, Malik Hasan started his own medical practice in Colorado. In a 1996 interview with PBS Frontline he revealed why he chose to put roots down in a small town two hours south of Denver.

“I felt it was somewhere that I could make my mark. That was what appealed to me,” he said. “There was nothing there!”

Since settling in Colorado, Hasan has become fluent in the health care business. In 1985, he formed Qual-Med HMO and has since bought, merged, and managed HMOs in New Mexico, Washington, Oregon, and California to great financial gains.

After acquiring an HMO “Dr. Hasan would install an aggressive medical director and tell him or her to shrink the medical-loss ratio,” Frontline reported. “The results offended some patients and doctors, but the approach was a financial success for Qual-Med.”

On the other hand, the medicine man has earned great accolades for developing a Neurology Services Department and a Neurointensive Care Unit at the Parkview Medical Center. His last name also adorns the CSU Pueblo campus, after donating millions of dollars to the CSU Hasan School of Business.

“His deep personal commitment to improving the lives of those who are less fortunate, and to providing the best medical care, possible speaks volumes about the true character of this remarkable man,” said then-Representative Scott McInnis (CO-3) from the House floor in 1998.  

Dr. Hasan has gone through extraordinary lengths to “enhance patient care and service in a geographical areas in dire need of assistance,” said McInnis.

At the time, McInnis represented the cities of Grand JunctionDurango and Pueblo. He was a politician from 1993 until 2005 when he lost his bid for the gubernatorial race amid scathing allegations of plagiarism, which ultimately cost him his political career.

Random side note: His name may sound familiar as The McInnis Canyons National Conservation Area was named for him.

The future is bright for cannabis

Hasan has great hopes with the current nomination for head of the FDA, Scott Gottlieb. He calls Gottlieb’s ideas on drugs ‘progressive’ – Trump, not so much.

“The fact is, there’s a lot of pain in the country,” he said.

Under the Obama administration, he said the financial turmoil of 2008 was actually a full-fledged depression – not a recession. Also, the underlying cause never went away. That’s why he says President Trump was elected. Trump was elected “to represent that anger [Americans] picked the most angry candidate…and we will have to clench our teeth and go through this period,” said Hasan.

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