Spotlight on Microscopes & Machines Conference: Where the Science of Cannabis Becomes Operational Reality


Mark Collins

September 6th, 2019

Policy


Organizers from left to right Ariel Clark, Laura Albers, Alicia Wapen, Joseph Verdi and Travis Turner. (Photo: Authors Own)

Microscopes & Machines is a blended cannabis and hemp medical, science, and manufacturing technology conference.  The organizers had an incredible line up in the light and airy Grass Room, a famous and historical venue in Downtown L.A.

Built in the 1920’s in an area east near Skid-Row, this beautiful building has lived many lives in its century of use; it’s been an oyster company, an ice cream factory, a brothel and a marijuana cultivation facility. This quirky venue was perfect for the eclectic crowd attending the event.

“We have built the Cannabis nerd conference of our dreams!” said event Founder Laura Albers, welcoming the attendees.

An exhibitor space at the Grass Room in Downtown Los Angles (Photo: author’s own)

Assembled speakers included Dr. Sue Sisley, Dr. Jeff Chen, Dr. Pepper Hernandez, Dr. Andrea Small-Howard, John Clayborn Poss, Dr. Michael Masterman-Smith, Dr. Stuart Silverman, Dr. Michele Ross, among those representing the “Microscopes” track and Dr. Michele Ross, Dustin Powers, Boris Kogon, Dr. Wyeth Callaway, Noah Cook, Harrison Spence and Ace Shelander to name a few from the “Machines” track plus many, many more speakers came together for this conference.

The sold-out conference took up all of the venue.  There were two main stages. One was the ‘’Microscopes’’ the other ‘’Machines.’’ “Microscopes” was for the medical, science, and research practitioners in cannabis.   “Machines” was for the experts from manufacturing, cultivation, processing and laboratory testing.  Essentially, the conference was a mash up of doctors and scientists and operational people.  They blended together the latest scientific thinking with the latest operational thinking of experts from manufacturers or testing laboratories, thereby uniting these two important disciplines.

Agricultural consultant and industry leader, Dustin Powers was their first speaker on the Machines stage.  Powers, a leading figure in the industry, got a rapturous welcome from the crowd.

Dustin Powers on stage at the Microscopes and Machines conferences in Downtown L.A.

Powers set the tone for the whole event through his passionate advocacy that the science of cannabis should become “open source” —open to anyone who cares to apply themselves to the science.   A distinguished speaker and businessman, Dustin knows his subject well.

Powers is well regarded in the cannabis community. He has been a partner for almost a decade in two large OMMP farms, as well as being a partner at Rebel Roots, an OLCC processor; he was former General Manager of Green Labs LLC, a WSLCB licensed grower/processor.   Powers has also trained directly in the science of  annabis under GreyWolf and Joe Oakes at PharmGold who have a reputation for deep thinking about the plant.

Following Powers, Dr. Wyeth Callaway PhD (aka Dr. Jack Hughes on Instagram) of market leader Jetty Extracts described the evolution of Jetty’s own cannabis science and chemistry in their extraction processes and & systems, which was a story of iterations and discovery.

Dr. Wyeth Callaway at the Microscopes & Machines conference in Downtown L.A. (Photo : author’s own).

Dr. Callaway pledged to give away Jetty’s IP in the spirit of helping the science of cannabis spread freely around the community and the world. In case there were any Jetty shareholders in the audience, he provided the caveat that his pledge will come through ‘’after we’ve scaled the business.’’

In the adjoining hall, on the Microscopes stage, Dr. Pepper Hernandez and Dr. Andrea Small-Howard held an intimate conversation on the human ‘’cannabis fingerprint.’’

Dr. Pepper Hernandez (left) and Dr. Andrea Small-Howard at Microscopes & Machines in Downtown L.A. (Photo author’s own)

Dr. Pepper discussed ‘’cannabis fingerprinting’’ as an innovative way for matching the various strains, phenotypes and cultivars of the major and minor #Cannabinoids to target specific human ailments and diseases through activating the human endocannabinoid system.

The science was getting pretty technical, but the upshot was that every human (and animal) interacts differently with cannabis so the challenge has been to deeply understand the role of individual elements of the plant’s biomolecular structure and match that to humans.

Another of the heroes of the Cannabis industry was also speaking at the event, Dr. Sue Sisley of the Scottsdale Research Institute.  Dr. Sue, by the time this article is published, will have secured her place in the history of cannabis.

Dr. Sue Sisley participated in the Microscopes and Machines conference in Los Angeles.

Dr. Sisley, a DEA-approved cannabis researcher, successfully sued the DEA to grant long-promised licenses for cannabis research contesting that the limited U.S. government supply ofcCannabis at the University of Mississippi was totally insufficient for research purposes.  Facing a court filing deadline, the DEA caved.  Dr. Sisley won a major victory that opens the door for 33 research licenses to be granted which will ultimately challenge the Federal government’s absurd contention that cannabis has no medical value.

I bumped into Rod Wolterman, Founder & Chairman of HemptownUSA, a large-scale hemp farming multi-state operator and major producer of exotic cannabinoids such as their 500 acres of CBG.

Rod Wolterman attended the Microscopes & Machines conference in Los Angeles.

With HemptownUSA, Rod has one of the largest privately-owned hemp processors in North America with a management team of some of the best of both Canadian and American professional cannabis executives. Rod founded Hemptown’s first operation in Oregon in 2016 and has been opening new states ever since.

I asked him what he thought of the show.  ‘’Very educational’’ Rod applauded the organizers.  “It’s really good to see the important collaborations and shared learnings happening.’’

Mr. Wolterman has extensive experience in the cannabis sector, having been active within the sector since 1998, when Provision 215 was approved to legalize medical cannabis at scale in California.

Attendees at the Microscopes and Machines conference in Los Angeles. (Photo author’s own)

I made sure to catch Dr. Jeffrey Chen. Dr. Chen is one of the world’s leading researchers into cannabis and its effects on humans and society.

Dr. Jeff Chen of University College Los Angeles (UCLA) takes a question from the audience at the Microscopes & Machines Cannabis and Hemp conference in Los Angeles, California (Photo Author’s Own).

Dr. Jeff Chen MD & MBA is a physician, researcher, and social entrepreneur.  He’s a thought leader on Cannabis policy, science, and business.  Dr. Chen has worked at the intersection of these areas for the last 5 years to educate and accelerate research into the diverse impacts of cannabis legalization on society.

Dr. Chen is the Founder and Executive Director of the UCLA Cannabis Research Initiative, one of the first university programs in the world dedicated to cannabis, where he leads a group of 40 interdisciplinary faculty drawn from 15 departments and 8 schools at UCLA.

He discussed the pros and cons of biosynthesized Cannabinoids (similar methodology to, say, penicillin’s creation) versus plant-derived Cannabinoids.

Professor Chen’s key takeout was that both plant-derived cannabis and biosynthesized Cannabis both have a role to play in the biomolecular chemistry of Cannabis.

Microscopes & Machines organizer and attorney Ariel Clark here leading the panelists discussing the “democratization of Cannabis medicine. “  From left to right Arial Clark, John Clayborn Poss, Sheila Gibson, Dr. Stuart Silverman and Dr. Michael Masterman-Smith in Downtown Los Angeles, California (Photo: Author’s Own)

A lively discussion was also had on the future of medical applications of cannabis.  Panelist John Poss defines this as “putting people before profits” to harness both socially responsible capitalism and academia to install cannabis as an integral and essential part of the world’s human and animal pharmacopeia.

How to do this?

“Education, education, education,” said physician Dr. Stuart Silverman. Legalization of Hemp has been a “starting gun“ for the commercialization of Cannabis Sativa L’s many molecules, such as CBD, CBG, CBN.

Pharmacologist, Dr. Masterman-Smith, argued that the efficacy of cannabis is on par with the pharmacological cocktails currently being prescribed. He feels that, relative to what’s on offer cannabis has better outcomes as a medicine overall.

Panelists discussed the dire lack of broad-scale clinical studies of cannabis as well as the many ways they’re advancing the science of cannabis and helping patients —in the face of the ongoing federal prohibition and limiting federal laws.

Los Angeles Grass Room was the setting for the Microscopes and Machines conference in Los Angeles.  (Photo author’s own)

The organizers designed their event to bring brought it all together towards the end with a panel on the theme of ‘’bridging the divide.’’  Getting both the scientists – the Microscopes people working more closely together with the application in the day-to-day operations – the Machines people.

From left to right: Dr. Andrea Small-Howard, Dr. Wyeth Callaway, Noah Cook, Ken White, Dr. Stuart Silverman and Dr. Pierre Geoffroy. At Microscopes & Machines Cannabis and Hemp conference in Los Angeles, California. (Photo author’s own). 

There was also an excellent cutting-edge panel on psilocybin at the end of the conference.

Ariel Clark leading panelists in the discussion on plant-based psychedelics. From left to right: Ariel Clark, Nicole Neubert, Madison Margolin, Will Goss, Dr. Michele Ross at the Microscopes and Machines conference in Los Angeles (Photo: author’s own).

Psilocybin is a Schedule 1 drug, but the U.S. FDA has granted permission for UCLA and Johns Hopkins University to study psychedelic mushrooms on mental health.  Several U.S. cities have already decriminalized this next great American industry.\

There are over 200 types of psychedelic mushrooms, so humanity is only scratching the surface of this powerful little fungus family.

Dr. Michele Ross stated that psilocybin interacts with the serotonin system receptors as opposed to the endocannabinoid system’s receptors which cannabis interacts.

Dr. Ross went on to describe research showing how psilocybin engenders neurogenesis in the hippocampus, creating new neural pathways in the mind. This could lead to powerful new healing perspectives and spiritual breakthroughs, especiallyl for patients suffering from clinical depression, autism, anxiety, PTSD, suicidal ideation etc.; in particular, patients not responding to human-concocted pharmaceuticals.

Great panel, they were only missing the legendary Richard “Rick” Doblin who is the founder and executive director of the Multidisciplinary Association for Psychedelic Studies (MAPS).

Microscopes & Machines wrapped up their conference with an after-party including comedians and live music to keep the good vibrations going from their day-long successful conference.

This comedian who has been based most of his life in West Hollywood, describes his visit to his grandmother in Mississippi where the cultural contrasts resulted in hilarity. Apparently, they don’t serve organic coconut milk half-caf lattes in Mississippi.

What is Microscopes & Machines niche in the crowded cannabis & hemp conference schedule? They brought together the brightest minds and voices from the cutting-edge of science and the brightest manufacturing teams in cannabis and hemp drawing those communities in cannabis ever more closely together to harness the power of innovation and take the industry to the next level.

Microscopes and Machines is produced by  A Dope Conference Company

Mark Collins

About Mark Collins

Mark Collins is the VP of Business Development at CFN Media. Before joining the cannabis industry in 2016, Mark was global managing director of in-home coffee machines at Jacobs Douwe Egberts. During his time in cannabis, Mark started up several successful cannabis companies before joining CFN Media. At CFN Media, Mark helps companies seeking capital to achieve outstanding results using CFN Media's own media platforms. Mark holds his MBA from London Business School and lives with his family in California.


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