Want to share your experience with medical cannabis? We want to meet you!
Over the coming weeks and months, we’ll be publishing spotlights on some of our own, from Natural Health Services Ltd. (NHS) clinics across Canada.
Meet Basil Kelly, one of the first employees hired by NHS in the summer of 2016. Basil joined the company as a Bud Genius at our Education Centre in Calgary where he quickly established himself as one of NHS’ most knowledgeable educators and later a founding co-host of the Cannabis Show.
Basil now plays a critical role at NHS headquarters as the company’s Manager of Inventory and Licensed Producer Relations. We recently sat down with Basil to pick his brain on the past, present and future of medical cannabis.
Kait: Tell us about your first experience with legal medical cannabis.
Basil: I was extremely excited for the opportunity to try cannabis from a licensed producer. Regulated cannabis was a game changer for me.
I enjoy knowing what genetics I am consuming. This knowledge significantly helped me along my path to discovering what strains were causing which effects for me and how I could use those experiences to not only my advantage but for those around me.
My obsession with terpenes took off, and I started to build what I saw as my medicine cabinet, stocked with multiple, different products to address nearly any issue that may arise throughout my day.
How long have you been a supporter of medical cannabis?
I have been supporting cannabis use for medical purposes for about eight years since I was about 25. A close family friend suffers severely from multiple sclerosis. Not only does she use cannabis medicinally, but she also used to run a collective allowing federally exempt patients to pool their licenses with a single grower.
I was very interested in their use of the medicine and their abilities to alter the forms of the plant to suit their needs. I would assist my friend filling in as budtender when her symptoms would not allow her to do so. During these shifts, I would have ample opportunity to educate and be educated by people with years upon years of personal, hands-on experience with cannabis.
“I see us getting to a point where we can identify which cannabinoids in what amount are best suited to treat a specific disorder.”
Without the aid of more double-blind controlled studies, how much of cannabis’ medicinal effects do you feel can be attributed to the unique terpene profiles of the strains, and how they help determine effects?
I think the compounds we consider cannabinoids act on and supplement our endocannabinoid system, while the compounds we generalize as terpenes provide more of the effects that cause us to choose one strain over another.
That said, I think it is not quite so clear-cut as separating cannabinoids from terpenes and attributing a medicinal value to each group. I think as more of these studies emerge, we see that compounds we would have previously identified as terpenes are more similar to cannabinoids and vice versa.
I believe that we are moving towards a world that will cease to consider their strains from an indica or sativa perspective. Instead, we will view cannabinoid and terpene profiles as an overall biography or complete description of the strain, telling us everything we need to know about that particular strain. I see us getting to a point where we can identify which cannabinoids in what amount are best suited to treat a specific disorder, and then be able to tailor our terpene profile to gain the exact effects we are looking for at any particular time of the day.
You’ve witnessed and in some cases instigated change within the industry. Is there something that stands out for you in terms of how impactful cannabis has been within our community?
The impact that strikes me the most in our community is the ability of so many cannabis patients to be able to move away from many of the pharmaceutical medications they have been consuming. I have met countless individuals who have been able to significantly scale back, or entirely cut out, medications they have been taking on a regular basis. Some pharmaceutical medications may be harmful to the liver, kidneys and other filtering organs causing more issues further down the road. Cannabis, on the other hand, does the opposite while treating symptoms. Instead of damaging the body during cannabinoid therapy, cannabis can supplement and repair.
It’s an exciting time when patients and doctors can work more closely together in treatment plans to determine what is and isn’t working. Where do you see yourself and, more generally, Canada in three years?
For me, the most exciting aspect of the evolution is going to be the explosion of proper studies and research that are bound to come along with normalization due to the legalization of recreational cannabis use.
I see research leading us to the discovery of even more cannabinoids. I see growers being able to isolate strains rich in cannabinoids other than THC and CBD and growing strains that have a balanced amount of a handful of cannabinoids. I see doctors being able to prescribe cannabinoid and terpene profiles tailored to specific disorders in their patients. I see a lot of the guesswork being removed from cannabinoid therapy allowing many more physicians to prescribe cannabis with confidence.
— Kait Shane, Director of Community Outreach Natural Health Services. Follow Natural Health Services on Twitter @NatHealthserve.
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