Up until this point I have been intrigued by conversations connecting cannabis and wellness, but the media has so far informed my awareness on the plant. There are oceans of informative articles online, but identifying which sources are reliable isn’t always so straight-forward. I’ve felt somewhat removed from the science behind the cannabis plant.
I was thrilled when I was invited by Flower & Freedom to participate in the Cannareps course, a weekend-long cannabis education intensive over on Vancouver Island.
Here’s a glimpse into my three-day expedition:
Day 1: The botanist
The course began on Friday night, I expected a meet and greet and perhaps an easy introduction, but what I got instead was an in-depth look at the microbial matter of cannabis. Having never studied botany, I was out of my depth.
The class was held at a local dispensary, one of the 20+ dispensaries in Victoria, where we were handed gloves, a microscope and a cannabis flower. We learnt how to identify familiar strains of cannabis, varieties of Sativa and Indica, through sensations of sight, smell and touch; how to pick out quality cannabis from the substandard kind and some tips to care for your crop.
The room was full of business owners, budtenders, professionals, social media influencers and patients. While the course was primarily designed for budtenders working in dispensaries, it was obvious to me that there is a real need for in depth cannabis education, for people on both sides of the counter.
Day 2: Medical breakthrough
On Saturday we delved into the life-changing medicinal properties of the plant. Cannareps provided us with cannabis knowledge cards, created by our experienced teacher to guide us through four topics: cannabinoids, strains, conditions, and products.
We began by discussing the different strains that are available in dispensaries and the generalised effect these strains have on the body. We covered the two popular compounds of cannabis, THC, the compound known to create the euphoria associated with cannabis, and CBD, the compound that is generally known to be non-psychoactive, which is a statement left open for debate. Like a lot of medicine, it was made known that the outcome of cannabis consumption is based on the individual and each person can have different experiences even with the same strain or product. This is a vital precaution I did not understand before taking the course. Each cannabis strain or product warrants its own indications for safe and effective use.
During the day we heard people talk about their personal experiences with medicinal cannabis, primarily positive, and the ways cannabis has been used in traditional cultures. We discussed some symptoms cannabis has been used to treat and the outcomes of these treatments for patients. While I had read or discussed some of these subjects privately amongst friends, I had never had the opportunity to ask an expert. I was astounded by the extensive amount of promising research that is being conducted. Studying this guide clarified topics that I had read about in the media and made me appreciate the emerging research being conducted by innovative scientists around the world.
We went on to what I can only describe as a ‘geek out’ over the wide variety of medicinal products available on the Canadian market, all much stronger than the aromatherapy and relaxation products that initially drew me to explore cannabis.
Day 3: Dawn of a new day
Sunday prepared us for the real world; challenging conversations and complex situations confronted everyone in the room who worked in or spoke favourably of the industry. The room was set up for role play where we acted out hypothetical situations to identify and critique best practice principles for handling real-life experiences. These exercises were a great way to reflect on interactions I might face amongst my family, friends, clients and members of the community.
Thus far my own experiences consuming cannabis as an adult have been positive, but there have been a range of stigmas I’ve had to work through when exploring cannabis for wellness. Changing my perspective from cannabis as a drug, to cannabis as a tool has been a journey, and education has been pivotal in challenging the widely circulated stereotypes. I’m certain that my friends and family would benefit from the same opportunity for education, even if they don’t plan on consuming.
We all have our own biochemistry that makes cannabis consumption a highly individualized experience. Being educated on the topic can empower us to make informed decisions and ensure we are consuming safely. My greatest takeaway from the Cannareps course was that it reinforced my view that cannabis education is a much needed service in the community.
I feel so much more confident and empowered to act responsibly and make informed, safe decisions about my own health, and I’m committed to continuing my own exploration of cannabis and sharing it with you.
From the words of my teacher, a veteran, who has pioneered medicinal cannabis research for 15 years, and whom I owe thanks for the lessons he taught me, it’s important to “stay humble,” but in my eyes, there’s plenty to be excited about!
By Amber Gibson
Flower & Freedom is working to guide curious consumers to develop a mindful relationship between cannabis and wellness. Please join the conversation, sign up for the email newsletter or reach out via the contact page, we’d love to hear your story.
Amber Gibson is a writer and world traveller exploring cannabis for wellness with Flower & Freedom.
Disclosure: The information shared in this post is a personal experience and not to be considered medical or legal advice. Please consult with a health practitioner and seek legal counsel on the cannabis laws in your area.