Join us as we speak with real doctors, patients, scientists, and families about medical cannabis. Hosts Elana Goldberg and Codi Peterson cut through the smoke to have intelligent conversations about medical marijuana, the conditions it can treat, human stories behind that treatment, and the questions we’re all thinking about but never had anyone to ask.
The Cannabis Enigma is a co-production of The Cannigma and Americans for Safe Access.
Episode 10: Perfecting cannabis with Michael Backes
A common issue that is present in the cannabis market is the inconsistency of products. As an agricultural crop, it can be tricky for suppliers to deliver the same product to consumers time and again, and this is one of the areas that Michael Backes, our guest for today’s episode, is tackling through his work at Perfect Blends! In our chat, Michael shares his personal journey into the cannabis space, and how his history of migraines aided him in discovering the powers of medical marijuana. From there, he talks about opening his first dispensary, and the basics of what we currently know about terpenes. We also get to grips with some important terminology, before Michael shares a few tips for healthier cannabis use. (Listen here)
Episode 9: Cannabis, food, and healing with Chef Jordan Wagman
Today on the show we welcome chef Jordan Wagman to talk about the work he is doing to incorporate cannabis into his amazing cooking as a way of advocating for its health benefits. Jordan starts by talking about how his early relationship with cannabis began when he was diagnosed with psoriasis and used it as a way of easing the pain. Now Jordan is on a mission to help others have a similar experience to him and we spend our discussion asking him about how he cooks with cannabis, his favorite recipes, and how the average person can start to build their own amateur cannabis kitchen. (Listen here)
Episode 8: Telling cannabis stories with pictures with Anthony Travagliante
Welcome to another episode of the Cannabis Enigma! We’ve got something a little different for you today. We’ll be talking about how visual storytelling can be used in the cannabis space with Anthony Travagliante. Hear the tale of how Anthony came to work in the cannabis space, telling the stories of cannabis brands and making them accessible to non-users. Find out how he has overcome some of the challenges caused by COVID, what he enjoys most about the industry, and the strides it is making in business. Elana is uniquely positioned to review his services for listeners, having hired Anthony herself, she closes her conversation with him with a shining recommendation. (Listen here)
Episode 7: Minorities in cannabis, with Steven Philpott Jr.
In light of Black History Month, we feel it is important and relevant to talk about how minorities in the United States and around the world have been disproportionately affected by drug policy and the war on drugs. Part of our conversation today centers on how we can break down barriers and find ways to build cannabis companies that are minority-owned and uplift them. Joining us for this discussion is Steven Philpott Jr., one of our science reviewers at The Cannigma and a cannabis trichome expert who is getting his master’s in Plant Sciences. Steve is also one of the co-founders of the Illinois Minority Growers Association and is heavily involved in social equity and minority issues within the cannabis space. (Listen here)
Episode 6: Cannabis and women’s health, with Dr. Melanie Bone
Today we are joined by Dr. Melanie Bone, a physician in Florida practicing cannabis-based medicine. Dr. Bone has an impressive medical background from working as an OBGYN and delivering thousands (literally thousands!) of babies, to doing robotic surgery, and now, helping geriatric patients navigate cannabis medicine. In this episode, we hone in on one particular sphere of interest, and that is the way that Dr. Bone has integrated her OBGYN expertise with her medicinal cannabis practice. We hear about how her son’s run-in with cannabis set her forth on her research and ignited her passion, and how Dr. Bone integrates cannabis to alleviate women’s health issues. (Listen here)
Episode 5: Cannabis and traumatic brain injury, with Nikki Lawley
In this episode we welcome Nikki Lawley, a Traumatic Brain Injury Survivor, and founder of NIKKI and the Plant, an advocacy group for medical marijuana use, with a special focus on helping women who have suffered a TBI. We talk with Nikki about her life-altering TBI, her previous prejudices around cannabis use, and how her journey led her to the founding of NIKKI and the Plant. After being prescribed over 60 medications and seeing dozens of healthcare professionals, Nikki finally found relief and a reason to be optimistic when she tried medical cannabis. We delve into Nikki’s advocacy work, her approach to addressing people’s prejudices, and why she is dedicated to changing the narrative around medical cannabis use. (Listen here)
Episode 4: New Year, New York, with Steve DeAngelo
Steve DeAngelo is the true definition of a cannabis advocate. From the first time he was introduced to the plant in the 1960’s he has dedicated his life’s work to its legalization. From his time as one of Washington, DC’s largest distributors of underground cannabis, through his creation of three iconic cannabis companies in California, to his current role as an educator and advisor, Steve has a wealth of knowledge and inspiration to share. As you’ll hear in today’s episode, there are various ways to legalize cannabis, some that can actually do more harm than good. In Steve’s eyes (and now in ours after this conversation with Steve) New York is leading the charge in terms of progressive cannabis legislation, and the rest of the world would do well to take note! (Listen here)
Episode 3: Cannabis in Israel, with Itai Rogel
Israel is world-renowned for the research and innovation that is taking place there, and unofficial data suggests that around 20% of the Israeli population uses cannabis. Despite this, being in possession of a prescription is the only way that cannabis can be legally consumed. Though hopefully this will not be the case for much longer. Today’s guest is Itai Rogel, the Vice President of Business Development at Israeli cannabis company, Bazelet. Bazelet currently has two registered patents, 40 applications out in various stages, and is one of the two largest cannabis companies in Israel. In today’s episode you’ll hear about some of the unique qualities of the Israeli cannabis market (and Bazelet), why it is such a challenge to legalize cannabis in the country, and the approach to legalization that Itai thinks makes the most sense for his country. (Listen here)
Episode 2: Behind the scenes on cannabis normalization with JM Pedini
In today’s episode, we speak with JM Pedini, Development Director for NORML, the National Organization for the Reform of Marijuana Laws. NORML has been representing responsible consumers since 1970, and through their efforts and activism have seen public opinion change drastically in the past fifty years. We discuss the changes that have taken place since NORML was founded, and why advancing public policy is reliant on understanding where your state legislature currently stands and what they’re emotionally comfortable with. (Listen here)
Episode 1: Data is knowledge with Otha Smith III
This week on The Cannabis Enigma Podcast we get together with Otha Smith III, CEO, and Founder at Tetragram, a smart, digital platform that helps users get the most out of medical cannabis. In our conversation with Otha, we talk about how Tetragram has been able to help its patients, how federal and state laws affect access to medical cannabis and what we can expect of government legislation in the coming years. We delve into how data can further our understanding of different types of cannabis and why standardization is desperately needed in the industry. (Listen here)
Episode 40: Season 1 finale — best of The Cannabis Enigma podcast
After 39 interviews with frontline doctors, researchers, patients, caregivers, practitioners, and expert storytellers, we are taking a summer break as we prepare for season two. In the Season 1 finale, hosts Michael Schaeffer Omer-Man and Elana Goldberg each choose three of their favorite interviews from the first season, discuss why those conversations were important to them, and play a short clip from each one. (Listen here)
Episode 39: Cannabis and ADHD, with Max Simon
Max Simon was a closeted cannabis user since his teenage years. It wasn’t until years later, when he got into the cannabis education business, that he understood the reason he had been so drawn to it all those years was it was helping his ADHD. In this episode, Simon discusses how that process played out, how he found the dose and regimen that works for him, and what exactly cannabis does for him as someone with ADHD. (Listen here)
Episode 38: Is Europe falling behind on cannabis?
When it comes to regulating and producing medicalized cannabis products, different countries have a variety of approaches. The American field of medicalized cannabis has followed a very different path to Europe. In this episode, we speak with Stephen Murphy, co-founder and CEO of Prohibition Partners, a cannabis-focused business intelligence and consultancy company. Murphy discuss the ways that Europe and North America differ when it comes to cannabis and what we can learn from those differences. (Listen here)
Episode 37: ‘The marijuana conspiracy’
What happens when you lock 20 women in a hospital for nearly 100 days and make them smoke two joints each night? Well, if it were up to the Canadian researchers responsible for the experiment, we’d never know. Nearly half a century later, the story of the at times cruel experiment is being told in a new film — ”The Marijuana Conspiracy.” Speaking with The Cannabis Enigma podcast in this episode are director and producer Craig Pryce and one of the original women who took part in the cannabis-fueled experiment, Doreen Brown. (Listen here)
Episode 36: So you think you know about cannabis?
As both a regulated medicine and something people use for wellness and even recreation, the information gaps that exist for cannabis users are unprecedented. “Any other medication and you’re lawfully entitled to speak to a pharmacist,” explains Dr. Codi Peterson, a clinical pharmacist and medical cannabis professional. “The law states, you must be ensured the opportunity to speak with someone like me.” In this episode with Dr. Peterson, we discuss common mistakes people make when they use cannabis, and why new cannabis technologies and products can get a little too far ahead of the science sometimes. He also explains why labeling something isolated in a lab as “plant-based” doesn’t mean it’s good for your body. (Listen here)
Episode 35: What every budtender needs to hear
Cannabis is becoming more mainstream and available to nearly one in three Americans, yet most cannabis consumers aren’t educated enough to buy the right products for their needs. Apart from poor experiences, this can lead to unhealthy consumption, explains Matthew O’Brien, editor and founder of the Four PM newsletter and a former bud tender himself. “I’ve seen some very crazy conversations occur in cannabis retail stores — we’re asking individuals to provide a service which they just have not in any context being provided with the right support to actually provide,” he says in the episode. (Listen here)
Episode 32: The women of cannabis
“The idea is to crush the stigma around cannabis, by sharing these very personal stories of women in the industry,” says Joyce Gerber, host of The Canna Mom Podcast. A lot has changed for the cannabis industry in the last 10 years. Yet, one thing we can’t seem to shake is the negative stigma that follows it around. In this episode, we speak with a woman who once feared and dismissed cannabis, only to become an activist for it in later life. (Listen here)
Episode 31: Put data in your pipe and smoke it
When you walk into a hardware store, pharmacy, or even a liquor store, if you don’t know exactly what product will meet your needs there’s someone educated enough to point you to the right product and the data to back up that recommendation, says Tyler Dautrich, COO of Releaf. “That’s not really available in the cannabis industry,” he explained on the Cannabis Enigma podcast. “That’s where we’re trying to fill that need and plug that gap and help individuals inform their purchase decision.” (Listen here)
Episode 30: Can family farms compete in cannabis?
When Kevin Nafte and his wife moved from Northern California’s Emerald Triangle to Uruguay, they already knew that they wanted to empower small, family farms to compete in the global cannabis industry. They had seen it work in California, and were determined to bring a similar model to South America. Less than three years later, they have 11 farms in their network and have already exported tons of cannabis to Europe. Nafte explained the social and environmental vision of his company, YVY Life Sciences, and why he believes that there is a place for small farmers like those in his network in the global cannabis economy. (Listen here)
Episode 29: The right strain & dose, with Dr. Dustin Sulak
“Start low and go slow,” the widespread refrain for finding the right dose of cannabis, is actually only half the phrase, Dr. Dustin Sulak explains on The Cannabis Enigma podcast. “But [people] often leave off the rest of the sentence — it’s start low, go slow, and don’t be afraid to go all the way.” Dr. Sulak, a practicing physician and renowned cannabis educator, gives his recommendations for how to choose a cannabis strain, why we need to get rid of the terms indica and sativa once and for all, and how the way you take your cannabis can have a significant impact on its effects. (Listen here)
Episode 28: What Biden means for cannabis
In some ways, cannabis won the 2020 general elections. Legalization measures won with healthy majorities in five separate states. The Biden-Harris platform was also the most progressive on cannabis than any other major party candidate in history. So what should we expect in the next four years? “It’s not going to be as exciting as people hope, unfortunately,” Founder and President of Americans for Safe Access Steph Sherer says. (Listen here)
Episode 27: The endocannabinoid system demystified
How much do you know about the Endocannabinoid System — the system present in nearly every part of the human body that helps maintain balance, and which the chemicals in cannabis can help regulate? Dr. Rachel Knox explains everything you need to know in a special episode brought to you and originally published by The Cannabis Conversation podcast, hosted by Anuj Desai. (Listen here
Episode 26: Writing the book on CBD
With so many products and so much conflicting information out there, how is a prospective patient supposed to figure out if CBD is for them? How do they learn to use it? And who is going to sift through all the science? Those are some of the questions that author Mary Biles set out to answer in her new book, “The CBD Book: The Essential Guide to CBD Oil.” In an interview on The Cannabis Enigma podcast, Biles discusses with host Michael Schaeffer Omer-Man how aside from explaining the science, it was regular patients’ stories that most moved her. (Listen here)
Episode 25: Cannabis as an addiction treatment
When Dr. Joseph Morgan worked in addiction medicine, his clinic wouldn’t even admit patients if their primary substance was cannabis. Years later, he developed a treatment protocol to treat opioid addicts with cannabis. Dr. Morgan also explained how one of more notorious side effects of cannabis can actually be a positive aspect for some medical patients. (Listen here)
Episode 24: Dr. Ethan Russo: How cannabis can still be better
Premier cannabis researcher Dr. Ethan Russo discusses how the power of cannabis has yet to be harnessed, and why tolerance can be a good thing. Science has made great advances in identifying what chemical properties of a given cannabis chemovar would be beneficial for various diseases and treatments, Russo explains, “but that’s a far cry from saying that [patients] would be able to access a chemical variety of cannabis that would be appropriate for their treatment.” (Listen here)
Episode 23: CBD Nation: Cannabis science for the masses
David Jacubovic, director and producer of the new documentary film “CBD Nation,” talks about how he went from cannabis skeptic to advocate, teaching the science of marijuana to regular folks, and why he insisted on putting a focus on cannabis as it relates to women’s health in the film. In the second part of the episode, Americans for Safe Access Policy Director Dustin McDonald talks about the organization’s new report on the state of cannabis regulation in the US. (Listen here)
Episode 22: Cannabis at the bar?
Marijuana has come a long way since the days of Reefer Madness and when you first learned about it from a DARE officer. But will it ever be treated like wine, with curated tastings available at high class events? That’s exactly what Dan Braunstein is trying to accomplish — at least until the coronavirus shut down the idea of social gatherings. As part of his push to make cannabis mainstream, he also has done events for seniors to learn about medical access and use. (Listen here)
Episode 21: The fight for legalization — and access
Twelve states will vote on cannabis legalization measures this November. Those ballot measures — and the momentum that has given a majority of Americans legal access to cannabis — don’t come out of nowhere. Americans for Safe Access joins The Cannabis Engima to talk legalization, why that’s not enough if everyone doesn’t have access, and what they’re doing. (Listen here)
Episode 20: Cannabis in your local pharmacy?
“In a perfect world, we’d see cannabis available in pharmacies, just like any other drug or supplement. And if you don’t need the pharmacist’s help, great — somebody else will,” says cannabis pharmacist Dr. Melani Kane. For patients, just having a medically knowledgeable resource available can ease some of their anxiety, Dr. Kane says. Explaining what to expect is a huge part of that, but even more important can be checking for potential drug interactions and building dosing and treatment plans. (Listen here)
Episode 19: The cannabis nurse is in
Katherine Golden voted against cannabis legalization when it was on the ballot in her home state of Colorado. A lot has changed since then. Today she runs a free telephone hotline staffed by fellow nurses trained in cannabis medicine, available to answer anyone’s questions about medical cannabis, what CBD does, and anything in between. And there are a lot of questions. Hear to the most common questions people call with, and why affordability is such an issue with medical cannabis. (Listen here)
Episode 18: Can cannabis treat ADHD?
Dr. Kirsten Muller-Vahl says her patients with Tourette’s and ADHD told her they get relief from cannabis. She believed them. But anecdotal evidence isn’t enough. “In the end you always need controlled trials because otherwise you cannot differentiate between pharmacological effects and placebo effects,” she explains. So she started clinical trials. (Listen here)
Episode 17: More than just a medical card
For many patients — and if we’re being honest, for many doctors as well — getting a medical marijuana recommendation is a one-time affair. It’s a box to check and then you’re on your own. But it shouldn’t be that way — and doesn’t have to be. “People need more than just some guidance of ‘try some medical marijuana,’” says Dr. Steven Salzman, medical director for adult medicine at Leafwell. (Listen here)
Episode 16: Cannabis and…human rights?
With dozens of countries having legalized medical marijuana and full legalization gaining speed across the globe, it’s easy to forget how the war on drugs drove so much foreign policy for so long — and how ravaging it was for mostly impoverished communities in countless countries. Some countries are doing something about that. (Listen here)
Episode 15: The first puff doesn’t always work
When Emily Earlenbaugh first used cannabis for anxiety and chronic pain, she found that some strains worked and others didn’t. So she began studying — herself. Only after a year of experimenting did she find what works for her. Today, she puts that experience to work, helping patients who are new to cannabis find their own personalized regimen and navigate their way through the rapidly expanding world of medical cannabis. (Listen here)
Episode 14: Using cannabis to treat autism
Just four years ago, pediatrician Dr. Orit Stolar was dead set against using cannabis to treat the autistic children under her care. “I would say, ‘you’re off the wall — this is a dangerous drug, it’s illegal.'” Today, she is running one of the only clinical trials in the world looking at how cannabis can help autistic children, and seeing results in her clinic. So what changed? (Listen here)
Episode 13: No time for clinical trials
When Catherine Jacobson’s three-year-old son had exhausted all of the treatments available for his rare, life-threatening form of epilepsy, she wasn’t about to just give up. She set up a lab in her garage, developed a CBD extract, got a pharmaceutical company to start producing it, and started a clinical trials program at a major cannabis company. (Listen here)
Episode 12: Cannabis in the age of COVID-19
Should you stop smoking and try different methods for taking cannabis because of the coronavirus pandemic? Does cannabis affect your immune system? Can marijuana help relieve the stress and anxiety of isolation caused by COVID-19 public health measures? An interview with Dr. Roni Sharon, MD. (Listen here)
Episode 11: Heal incurable wounds with cannabis
When Dr. Vincent Maida first starting recommending medical cannabis to cancer patients over two decades ago, he was viewed as an outcast by many of his colleagues in the medical community. “The way medical students are socialized — it’s to think in a certain way, and if you try to think outside of those parameters, you’re deemed a bit of a heretic.” (Listen here)
Episode 10: When your kid needs cannabis
When Alfie Dingley’s mother first broached the idea of giving her epileptic son cannabis, their neurologist threatened to call social services. So she got a new doctor, moved her family to the Netherlands, and found a treatment that worked for Alfie’s seizures, caused by an extremely rare mutation of epilepsy shared by only nine other boys in the entire world. (Listen here)
Episode 9: Cannabis drug interactions, with Dr. Roni Sharon
When you go to the pharmacy to fill a prescription, the pharmacist checks to see if there could be any adverse drug interactions. Your doctor usually does the same. Do we need to be treating medical marijuana similarly? And who should be responsible? (Listen here)
Episode 8: “What the heck is hemp?” with Joao Gama
When Joao Gama started practicing law in the cannabis space, working on regulation in the Portuguese and European markets, “to be honest, no one around knew a lot about it other than criminal lawyers that would defend drug dealers.” Gama discusses how the future of global cannabis law might look. (Listen here)
Episode 7: Cannabis bedside manner, with Janosch Kratz, MD
When Janosch Kratz sees a new patient about medical cannabis, beyond their medical history, he first wants to know how they react to other medications and even alcohol. If someone gets drunk off half a beer, he’s more likely to start them on a lower dose of cannabis. (Listen here)
Episode 6: Cannabis data for doctors, with Mara Gordon
When Mara Gordon started using medical cannabis there wasn’t any lab testing — or any way to know how much of each cannabinoid or terpenes were in any given strain. There was definitely no way of ensuring that you got the same effect from it consistently. So she drew on her profession as a process engineer and decided to start doing it herself. Gordon has been featured in the Netflix documentary, “Weed the People.” (Listen here)
Episode 5: Cannabis got me off opiates after 25 years
After nearly 25 years of taking prescription opiates to treat chronic pain caused by a severe car accident, a friend suggested that Michael Miller try cannabis. At the age of 54, he tried marijuana for the first time — and it changed his life. (Listen here)
Episode 4: How science is learning from patients about cannabis
There’s no substitute for clinical trials, but that doesn’t mean we should dismiss patient experience as merely anecdotal, Tilray’s VP of patient research, Philippe Lucas, says. “We have 10 clinical studies either completed or underway, but we’re also equally committed to gathering real world evidence […] Ultimately patients can tell us a lot about what works best for specific conditions or what dosages are most effective.” (Listen here)
Episode 3: Migraines & cannabis: a neurologist weighs in
“I deal with very sick patients that have been to multiple doctors and have tried everything that’s been approved or everything that’s been tried — and I have to offer them hope,” says Dr. Roni Sharon. “Very often I’ll offer them medical marijuana.” (Listen here)
Episode 2: A rural Canadian doctor starts prescribing cannabis
Canadian ER doctor Tiffany Keenan’s discovery of medical cannabis started with a documentary on TV, something indicative of how many doctors are still uninformed about the science behind it. She did more research, and soon began prescribing cannabis to patients. “Especially in smaller towns, the word kind of gets out that people are getting relief from this and then they tell their friends,” Dr. Keenan says. (Listen here)
Episode 1: Can cannabis help children with autism?
There are many case reports and lots of anecdotal evidence of medical cannabis helping children with autism. “We need the evidence,” however, says Dr. Adi Aran, a pediatric neurologist who just completed one of the first clinical studies looking at cannabis and autistic children. “We saw a substantial improvement in the behavioral problems and also in the social deficits.” (Listen here)
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