Final Thoughts on the Australian Cannabis Summit

Australian Cannabis Summit: A Summary

The ‘Australian Cannabis Summit‘ was held in Brisbane this year between the 5th and the 6th of July. A wide diversity of speakers from various walks of life were present… and luckily, the videos still remain online for all to enjoy, so don’t worry if you missed out. We at Friendly Aussie Buds loved the ACS so much, we’ve taken the liberty of searching through their videos for the juiciest, most interesting information available. It’s been almost half a month since the summit, but we still think it’s very much worthwhile to share a couple more presentations with our audience – as they’re just so good!

The videos available on the ACS website are all top notch. We recommend you check them out for yourself in your spare time.

To wrap up our series, we’ll be focusing on two presentations from the summit. The first is presented by Sharlene Mavor on the importance of educating medical professionals and the general public about medicinal cannabis. The second is a collection of observations by Bec Houghton about significant differences between the Australian and American scenes.

We’ve really enjoyed covering this summit, and can’t wait for next year’s ACS! The summit’s function as a place for our community to unite and educate around cannabis is indispensable. We commend them for keeping their content free and online for all to access.

The Importance of Medical Education

Sharlene Mavor is a major figure of the registered non-for-profit MCRA (Medical Cannabis Research Australia) who has spoken internationally. The mission of the MCRA is to advocate for legalisation in Australia and educate people on the realities of medicinal cannabis. MCRA hosts seminars/conferences with myriad professionals in the field, as well as with patients. They are also proponents of additional research in the field to help improve testing equipment and the development of reproducible medicine.

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Medicinal cannabis education is of relevance to many different groups. It’s not just patients and doctors; carers, legislators, decision makers and the public at large all have their own perceptions of the plant, which contribute to its current status. Amongst all these groups, there is a need to overcome unfounded stigmas associated with adult recreational use, as well as to explain the differences between adult recreational and medicinal use. For doctors and GP’s in particular, it’s important to explain that it’s possible for cannabis to be presented in a medically sophisticated fashion. For pharmacists, it’s about getting used to dosing cannabis, developing it into a medicine that can be found on shelves.

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Plant-based medicine such as cannabis is multi-molecular, or active along multiple fronts. Usually, when a drug is released, doctors are used to performing random control trials. These tests give them the confidence to decide on whether a treatment is right for patients.

Without education, it’s possible that doctors will continue to shy away from prescribing this medicine. Anecdotal evidence in this case is rarely enough to convince them of cannabis and its efficacy. It would be a disgrace for cannabis to remain outside of hospitals.

It’s important that Australian cannabis advocates begin to ask the important questions when it comes to medicinal access. We should openly discuss subsidies to allow patients to be able to afford their medicine. We should act to reconstruct the current system and break down the unnecessary red tape and bureaucracy. Ideally, GP’s are the ones who can do the most to solve the problem of limited access; although, there’s plenty of work to be done when it comes to communicating this important information to those with the power to prescribe access and design legislation in this country.

America vs Australia

Bec Houghton is from the underground cannabis community in Australia. She travelled to Portland, USA and worked in a dispensary, soaking up the culture there. She spent her time in America comparing and contrasting the medical and recreational cannabis scenes of the United States and Australia, and came to some interesting conclusions.

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Bec wasn’t always the passionate cannabis activist she is today. There was once a time when she thought cannabis was harmful and would kill your brain cells. She believed “there was nothing positive about it whatsoever. Now, however, I feel as if we all have an obligation to learn more about cannabis. We know the harms of tobacco and alcohol that are very real – but we’ve all been lied to about cannabis, and ought to engage in a rethink.”

“The thing which opened my eyes about cannabis as a medicine was when my former partner came home from Afghanistan with severe PTSD. He was medicated when he got home with pharmaceuticals and anti-psychotics. He was also asked to start exposure therapy.”

“I can guarantee you that neither of those modalities were helpful or led to recovery. They only led to induced impulsivity. He experienced homicidal and suicidal tendencies from psychotropics. Not a single doctor warned me of this.”

Incredibly scary.

The medical system allows those who are medicated with anti-depressants and anti-psychotics to pick up their prescription legally, only for the family members to face the brunt of any emotional outbursts which may ensue… which is incredibly dangerous. Not enough information is out there on the impacts of these drugs.

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After this experience, Bec completely revamped her entire lifestyle. Living in the US, she learned everything there was to know about trauma and trauma management. There’s a wealth of knowledge pertaining to this subject, and a sense of understanding of what we’re undergoing. Bec started focusing on foods and diets, cannabis treatments, yoga, exercise, and forms of floatation therapy. She saw instantaneous and enormous benefits from transitioning from psychotropic drugs to holistic modalities and alternative therapies.

Bec made her own capsules, tinctures, balms and suppositories. Every person she gave them to had their own preferences and dosages. It was really up to them to find their balance. Which is a good thing, as cannabis is one of the few treatments that provides the patient with the freedom to do that. Although a little too much can make you uncomfortable, you won’t overdose. Bec recommends that you should spend time finding your dose in the safety of your own home.

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In Australia, we’re taught that THC is bad, CBD is good, and that we need to be taking CBD in isolates. There are many people who stand to make a lot of money by spreading this misinformation. It’s been demonstrably shown that patients want and need THC! If you want to learn more, check out our writeup on Whole Plant Medicine and the ‘Entourage Effect’.

Bec makes it clear that smoking cannabis can have medicinal properties in many contexts. Generally speaking, she says, it’s not harmful or detrimental in the way that comparative treatments can be. Besides, there are a wide variety of ways to administer cannabis, if you aren’t into smoking – such as vaporisation, or edibles. Getting informed about the ways that cannabis works on the body is essential; and as far as it goes, the folks in the United States are well ahead of us.

Concluding Remarks

In recent years, the grassroots Australian cannabis scene has been quietly moving from strength to strength. Indeed, the 2019 Australian Cannabis Summit in Brisbane is a testament to that. It’s a shining example of how passionate people from all walks of life are increasingly coming together to educate and advocate around a common interest of public health and wellbeing. The professional presentation of the Australian Cannabis Summit and its speakers goes a long way in altering the public perception attached to the substance moreover.

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Now that our series on the Australian Cannabis Summit is over and done with, stay tuned: we’ll be releasing many more articles in this style as we cover the Australian Hemp Expo in Brisbane (12th-13th October).

Mitch
Mitch Keys is a young writer from Brisbane, Australia unfolding in a dynamic process of becoming (like everyone else, so don’t go thinking he’s special or anything). He likes being alive.
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