First Annual Medical Marijuana and Hemp Expo
Posted Aug 12, 2010 By Alan Coxwell
Volunteers (l-r) Liam Fudge of Oshawa, Al Graham of
Campbellford and Jennie Coxwell of Stirling, manned
the Treating Yourself magazine booth at the First
Annual Medical Marijuana and Hemp Expo held at the
Metro Toronto Convention Centre from July 16 to 18,
2010. Treating Yourself publisher Marco Renda organized
the event and presented the Medical Marijuana Cup to
the best growers at the conclusion of the Expo.
EMC News - If Stephen Harper had been down on the Toronto Harbour pier on Saturday afternoon, July 17, 2010 watching the high-spirited group boarding the Stella Borealis for a dinner cruise on Lake Ontario, he would surely have been perplexed. As the ship's captain watched, unsmiling from her forward upper deck, his crew members thoroughly frisked bodies and searched knapsacks belonging to everyone coming aboard. All friskees were vendors, musicians, comedians, highly qualified physicians, volunteers or just your average curious Canadians who were attending the First Annual Medical Marijuana and Hemp Expo, held at the Metro Toronto Convention Centre from Friday, July 16, to Sunday, July 18. If he happened to be standing downwind Stephen could not have missed the distinctive, sweet smell of burning marijuana blowing inland on a cool lake breeze.
Bohdan Petyhyrycy, president of Airis Corp. of Bragg
Creek, Alberta, (far right) was assisted in filling vapour
bags during the Medical Marijuana Seed Company
Division competition held at the Metro Toronto
Convention Centre on July 17. His vapourizer has been
modified to fill five bags at a time so two vapourizers
handled the requirements of ten judges as they rated
ten different entries
The ironic part of this scene came to light when it was announced alcohol was illegal on this particular cruise as no licence from the Liquor Control Board of Ontario was issued. If enjoying a cold beer while watching that hot July sun sink behind the CN Tower was what these guests had in mind the captain had other ideas. When his searching sailors, with a decidedly Rastafarian look to them, stumbled upon some pot in a purse it was promptly ignored. It was the much more destructive drug, alcohol, that they were looking for on this occasion. No police, who might even still be lingering around town after the G20 billion-dollar debacle, came flooding into the area as it was all perfectly legal.
This crowd on the pier was a formidable representation of the 4,000-or-so Canadians who have been granted medical exemptions from Health Canada to use and/or grow cannabis ... marijuana, pot, grass, ganja, dope, weed ... call it what you will, to help them with some particular medical condition. For anyone who cared to take the time to educate themselves about the reality of the medicinal properties of this plant this Expo was the place to be. A continual stream of information was delivered in the 1,400-seat John Bassett Theatre through documentary films, lectures by some of the world's leading medical authorities, registered nurses, plant biochemists and medical exemptees sharing their personal experiences. At no time during the weekend were any of Canada's Members of Parliament spotted in the audience.
Tributes were paid in several documentaries to leaders in the field of cannabis research and their quest to make this plant available to anyone who may find benefits in its cultivation. Israeli documentary filmmaker Zack Klein presented his film Prescribed Grass, which he began to research in the year 2000 as his mother looked to use medical cannabis in her fight against breast cancer. Prescribed Grass features Israeli researchers Dr. Ester Fride and Dr. Raphael Mechoulam, who did pioneering research in their Jerusalem laboratories into the human body's own production of endogenous ("endo")cannabinoids. By 1990 medical researchers discovered all human brains and digestive organs had cannabinoid receptors (CB1 in the brain and CB2 in digestive organs). Since receptors were present it was reasoned the human body must also produce cannabinoids. In 1992 they discovered the first cannabinoid produced in the human body to which the receptors normally respond. It was named Ananadamide taken from a Sanskrit term "ananada" meaning "bliss, delight." Until her death on New Year's Day 2010 Dr. Ester Fride carried out her research and discovered several more endocannabinoids and mapped out their functions in the human body. Approximately 80 cannabinoid compounds are present in the cannabis plant with tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) identified as the one which gives the human brain the legendary euphoric "high."
In a two-hour lecture California physician Dr. William Courtney presented the biological nuts and bolts of how the use of cannabis affects the human body. "The cannabinols real area of activity is in cellular regulation," stated Dr. Courtney. "If a cell is pre-cancerous the cannabinoids can direct it to self-destruct. If it is hyper active it can be directed to slow down production. If it is underactive it can be ordered to increase activity by the cannabinols. They are the plant managers at the cellular level."
Dr. Courtney told the audience that when he was seven years old he first became aware of cells in the human body and since that point in time he has has been exploring this amazing world through the lens of a microscope. After 20 years of studying the properties of cannabis and interacting with over 7,000 patients through his four clinics, as a Clinical Cannabis Consultant, Dr. Courtney is convinced that the most important piece of legislation to come out of the State of California allows medical marijuana "to be used for any condition for which it provides relief." Dr. Courtney is also convinced human consumption of dietary products made from cannabis plants, such as the seeds and juice, would be highly beneficial to human health and overall wellbeing.
Emerging from lectures and films presented in the low light of the John Bassett Theatre to sunshine out on Front Street was interesting all weekend long. For those who did not go to the Vapour Lounge to medicate, but preferred the old-fashioned joint, lighting up in the building was forbidden. So, along with long-ostracized cigarette smokers, they clung like barnacles to the edges of the building all along Front Street where foreign tourists sniffed the air and smiled as they passed by. For medical users who do not like smoke in their lungs the imaginative inventors have been hard at work. For Bohdan Petyhyrycy, president of Airis Corp. of Bragg Creek, Alberta, described as "an innovative research inventive solutions corporation," the solution for non-smokers was in science. His company's Herbal Aire Vapourizer allows the user to get the desired cannabinoids from the cannabis plant without burning it. With precise temperature control a small amount of cannabis is heated to the point where the cannabinols are released because they are volatile and will vapourize before ignition temperatures are reached. The vapour is delivered at a very low temperature and unlike smoke, which many find harsh on their throat, the vapour is described as a bit sweet and rather soothing. Unlike smoking, vapourization also removes potential carcinogens which are by-products of combustion.
Up on the top floor of the Convention Centre a trade show with around 75 vendors was in full swing. Water pipes, bongs, hemp clothing, marijuana magazines, vapourizers, hydroponic supplies, fertilizers, hemp-based cosmetics, hash presses, compassion centre information, seeds and legal assistance were all on offer. The Vancouver Seed Bank was there selling seeds, since possessing cannabis seeds is not illegal in Canada. After watching small numbers of seeds trade hands for large amounts of cash, and listening to the banter between buyers and sellers for a while, the seed seller turned to me and asked if I had any questions.
"Yes I do," said I, "How come you are here in Toronto, all the way from Vancouver, selling marijuana seeds, while the king of all Vancouver pot seed sellers sits in a jail cell in the United States of America after the Drug Enforcement Agency of the United States came in and grabbed him in Vancouver and threw him in an American prison for five years?"
"It was all political," came the reply. "Marc Emery made a lot of money selling cannabis seeds. He has funded pro-pot groups in the United States and elsewhere to the tune of about four million dollars and the authorities in charge of America did not like it. So they came and got him."
"But under Canadian law a Canadian citizen cannot be extradited on political grounds," I offered.
"That is why they used the fact that Marc sold pot seeds as their excuse," said the seed seller. "And our gutless Canadian government always lets the Americans do whatever they want to do, even if they contravene our own laws. That is the real crime."
Other participants expressed such opinions as: Cannabis, if employed to its full potential, could be a saviour of our planet and thus the human race. It is the only plant which grows prolifically all around our Earth, on the poorest of soils, with no pesticides required. It locks up huge amounts of carbon dioxide as it grows. It provides one of the most complete proteins for highly nutritious food. Its biomass can be efficiently converted into fuel. Paper, cloth and building materials can all be created from its tough fibres. Humans have only begun to explore the potential of this amazing plant and research is crippled by laws based on propaganda from those who do not want this plant to be utilized. The most common reason put forward for this attitude was that the cannabis plant cannot be patented by big pharmaceutical companies and big pharma bankrolls lots of politicians' careers.
History tells us that until the 1937 Marijuana Tax Act passed in the USA every drug store in the world carried Cannabis as one of its most beneficial drugs. That is one reason why the propagandists invented the word marijuana. How can you make something illegal when doctors have been prescribing it for many years? Doctors even prescribed it to Queen Victoria to help alleviate her menstrual cramps. Proof of the beneficial medical power of this plant is the crack which has let the light of truth shine in. Governments cannot deny it and have been forced to allow some of their citizens to have access to this medicine.
The evidence is compelling. Documentaries like What If Cannabis Cured Cancer presents convincing evidence that this forbidden herb has healing properties beyond any other plant on Earth. The film archives this by explaining the body's own endocannabinoid system that is in our bodies from birth, and how it interacts with the use of cannabis, and in turn fights cancerous cells.
A wide spectrum of interests was represented at the Expo, from skate board kids to hemp farmers to highly respected academics. They all had a common goal ... remove this highly beneficial plant from the Americanadian's War on Drugs most-wanted list. The only disappointment for many at the Medical Marijuana and Hemp Expo was that Rick Mercer did not slide across Front Street from the CBC building to tape an episode.
Maybe next year!