Medical cannabis educational opportunity

The Inaugural Update on Medical Cannabis Conference: The Science of Cannabis and Its Changing Role in Medicine is being held at the Medical University of South Carolina, in Charleston, on Fri., Sept. 28.

Medical University of South Carolina MUSC

While the event is open to the public, it also serves as a continuing education opportunity — up to eight credits — for those in the medical field. The educational event is hosted by the school’s Department of Psychiatry and Behavioral Sciences.

However close the S.C. General Assembly has come to legalizing medical cannabis, it remains a controversial topic in the state.

“The Medical University and the Department of Psychiatry and Behavioral Sciences are not providing an opinion about the use of medical marijuana,” says Dr. Melissa E. Milanak, Director of Continuing Education for the department, adding that attendees can expect “unbiased presentations that are scientifically based.”

And she also has to add, for legal purposes: “The information and statements provided by the conference presenters are their own opinions and not that of MUSC or the Department of Psychiatry and Behavioral Sciences.”

“There has been a lot of discussion in the S.C. General Assembly about whether or not medical cannabis should be legal,” says Milanak, adding, “We had a number of individuals approach us saying that they want to know more, but they want to know about the science,” says Milanak.

Regarding this week’s medical cannabis conference, she says, “We want to make sure that we put on a conference that’s educational, informative and based on high-caliber science.”

For the public, tickets for the all-day event are $150 at the door. Students receive a $25 discount. The ticket price includes breakfast, lunch and a reception following the event. Tickets are available at the door on the day of the event.

“Our speakers and exhibitors and attendees will have a chance for more informal conversations with each other,” says Milanak. “We wanted to provide an atmosphere for continued conversations and networking.”

MUSC hopes to make the medical cannabis conference an annual event.

Medical cannabis presentation topics and presenters

To learn more, review the conference agenda here. From there click on the presenter’s names for more information about their individual presentations as well as their professional qualifications.

Risks and Benefits of CBD

Dr. Mark Hamann will present on the “risks and benefits of CBD and other cannabinoids,” which is expected to include information to help medical professionals identify the benefits of CBD and related hemp cannabinoids along with a discussion on the “risks of cannabinoids including risks associated with routes of delivery.”

Hamann is the Charles and Carol Cooper/SmartState Endowed Chair of Drug Discovery in the Department of Biomedical Sciences and Public Health at the MUSC College of Pharmacy. Prior to earning a PhD in organic chemistry, he worked in the pharmaceutical industry.

CBD and inflammation

Dr. Prakash Nagarkatti will discuss his research and practical experience using CBD to treat inflammation. He is the Vice President for Research at the University of South Carolina and is internationally known for his research on cannabinoids. Dr. Nagarkatti’s lab was one of the first to demonstrate that cannabinoids can be used in the treatment of certain cancers and inflammatory diseases.

His presentation is expected to touch on how cannabinoids are received by the human body along with the role of the endocannabinoid system when it comes to autoimmune disease and cancer. He will also discuss how cannabinoids suppress inflammation.

Endocannabinoid System

An artist’s rendition of what endocannabinoid receptors look like in the human body. [Image: iStock]

Treatment of Epilepsy and Schizophrenia with CBD

Dr. Jonathan Halford will present information regarding what is known about how cannabinoids treat epilepsy. He will also discuss clinical trials using CBD as part of the treatment for epilepsy and schizophrenia and offer an update on the U.S. Food and Drug Administration’s work on CBD pharmaceutical drugs.

Halford is a graduate of Duke University and MUSC. Additionally, he trained for six years at Duke University Medical Center. He is very involved in epilepsy research, working with patients in clinical trials and helping to develop devices that are able to detect seizures.

Risks and benefits of therapeutic cannabinoids

Dr. Susan Weiss will explain how to distinguish between THC and CBD and “recognize the consequences of cannabis use and potential medical benefits.” She will also explain the differences in state and federal cannabis law and how those differences effect cannabis research.

Weiss is the Director of the Division of Extramural Research at the National Institute on Drug Abuse. Prior to NIDA, Weiss served as the Senior Director of Research at the National Mental Health Association (now Mental Health America). She also directed a research program in the biological psychiatry branch of the National Institute of Mental Health (NIMH).

Medical Cannabis Legislation in South Carolina: Cannabis as an Alternative to Opioids

S.C. state Sen. Tom Davis will make a presentation on medical cannabis as an alternative to opioids.

In addition to acknowledging the legal and political challenges in South Carolina that may preempt the legalization of medical cannabis, Davis will also discuss best practices in the medical cannabis industry.

Davis serves Senate District 46, which is comprised of almost all of southern Beaufort County, a portion northern Beaufort County, and a portion of Jasper County. He was reelected for his third four-year term in 2016. He is a Republican.

Reconciling the Conflict: The Interaction of Federal and State Medical Cannabis laws

Attorney David T. Mangone, the  Director of Government Affairs and Counsel for Americans for Safe Access, a non-profit organization that advocates for the legalization of medical cannabis will also make a presentation on the nexus of federal and state cannabis laws.

Davis is the author of the reports “Medical Marijuana Access in the United States: A Patient-Focused Analysis of the Patchwork of State Laws” and “Medical Cannabis as a Tool to Combat Pain and Opioid Crisis: A Blueprint for State Policy.”

Attorney Robert Ianuario will also speak on cannabis law.

State of the Union:  Marijuana Industry Update, Federal Government Initiatives, Regulatory and Compliance Update, Healthcare Initiatives

Tim Gunther, CEO of TGunther Group, dba, will discuss the legal cannabis markets in the United State as they pertain to healthcare compliance and regulations. He will also discuss legal precedence for recommending medical marijuana.

Gunther is an Air Force veteran with an MBA who is focused on the commercial cannabis industry. For the last two years he has conducted workshops at the International Association of Chiefs of Police annual conference. He also educates state law enforcement officers.

Medical Cannabis and the Role of the Nurse

Eileen Konieczny, RN, is an oncology nurse with decades of experience. She will explain how medical professionals can apply what they learn at the medical cannabis conference to their patients who are already using medical cannabis. She will also analyze cannabis as a medicine and discuss potential drug interactions, risks versus benefits and side effects associated with cannabis.

Since 2008, she has helped cancer patients find relief with cannabis. She describes herself as having “an unstoppable calling to advocate for medical cannabis on a state and national level.”

Medical Cannabis from the Perspective of a Scientist Who Owns a Dispensary

Dr. Chanda Macias is the CEO and the owner of National Holistic Healing Center, a medical marijuana dispensary in Washington DC. She will explain the medical cannabis industry, knowledge earned after more than 15 years of working with patients and starting her own dispensary.

Macias serves on the board of directors for the Minority Cannabis Business Association focusing on the growth of the industry in existing and emerging markets. She also educates through Women Grow, a national outreach organization focused on women and minorities and their access to the cannabis industry. She serves as the treasurer and secretary of D.C. Medical Cannabis Trade Association which works with the Dept. of Health on legislation, regulation and compliance. Finally, Dr. Macias serves on the Advisory Board of Southern University, a state-funded university, which was granted a license to cultivate medical cannabis in Louisiana.

Macias, a research scientist, earned a PhD in cellular biology from Howard University and an MBA from Rutger’s University.

Veterans and Medical Marijuana

Daniel Gaita, CPT, MA, LMSW, will discuss the complexity of cannabis dosing and the meaning of CBT:THC ratios. He will also talk about how cancer is effected by cannabis and diet.

A disabled and decorated U.S. Marine, Gaita is the founder, director and developer of Operation Vet Fit, a non-profit 501C(3) that works with and advocates for combat veterans. He is recognized by the U.S. Dept. of Veterans Affairs Mental Health Services for his ground breaking research on combat post-traumatic stress disorders (PTSD) and veteran suicide.

BY Rhiannon Fionn

BY Rhiannon Fionn

Editor & Publisher

Rhiannon Fionn is an award-winning journalist based in Charlotte, N.C.

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