Stellar Speakers at Medical Cannabis Conference Catering to Seniors in Orange County Retirement Community

By Sam Sabzehzar

Juicing Medical Cannabis and a 20% CBD-rich Strain Among Many Announcements at CBD Conference in Laguna Woods

Anna Boyce, R.N., addresses the audience at CBD Conference, has represented the California Nurses Association and as seen the benefits of medical cannabis as a nurse, especially among seniors. (Photo credit:

This January, seniors from Laguna Woods, a gated retirement community in Orange County, California, were delighted to learn their local private community would be hosting a medical cannabis conference.

Although the elderly were among the majority of those in attendance, the one-day medical marijuana seminar, appropriately titled CBD Conference, featured Dr. William Courtney and Dr. Donald Abrams, among many other prominent figures in the fight to provide accurate and relevant information.

Conferences like this help educate many Americans who would otherwise find themselves either taking prescription pills their bodies are rejecting or not taking any form of medicine because of their lack of access and/or insight into one of the most beneficial botanical plants on the planet.

The 1,000 seat auditorium was nearly filled to capacity while hundreds lined up to hear some of the most influential figures in the medical cannabis movement.

This event, co-sponsored by Kush Magazine, along with OC NORML, Apothecary Genetics, GGECO University, and, had a plethora of participants, many who were attending a medical cannabis conference for their first time.  Most of those in attendance were over the age of forty and had innocent, genuine questions and found themselves overjoyed at the level of integrity the standards from this conference upheld.

“People our age — there’s no reason we shouldn’t be able to feel better.”

~ Shari Horn, Laguna Woods Resident

The all-day event began with a panel group featuring Orange County Americans for Safe Access Chapter President Marla James, registered nurse Anna Boyce, Lanny Swerdlow, R.N., and Debby Goldsberry of Berkeley Patients Group.

Anna Boyce, who has worked closely with the California State Assembly, and helped Prop 215 efforts, spoke to all in the crowd but no one listened more closely than  those from within the Laguna Woods community who saw on a panel someone around their age that was saying some pretty good things about marijuana as medicine.

Jeffrey Raber, Ph.D., co-founded The Werk Shop, a local laboratory that tests medical marijuana for growers, collectives and dispensaries, as well as patients, spoke about the importance of testing medical cannabis and what these tests tell us.  He also mentioned the work they do with Project CBD, a group helping tell the story of cannabidiol (CBD).  This was the perfect introduction to CBD into the conference as one of the most groundbreaking announcements regarding CBD levels found in a strain would be made later in the day.

Lending their voice from the perspective of the Netherlands, Sytze Elzinga, who provided a very poignant presentation pertaining to patients in Holland and how the Dutch approach this form of alternative treatment options.

Dr. William Courtney discussing medical cannabis as a dietary necessity. One's Daily Dose should be taken throughout the day after freshly juicing the raw plant leaves and flowers. (Photo credit:

One of the most anticipated lectures of the day was provided by Dr. William Courtney, along with his partner, Kirsten Peskuski, who continues to lead the conversation in the right direction through researching how phytocannabinoids, the compounds found in cannabis also known as cannabinoids, bind to our Endogenous Cannabinoid System differently when the leaves and flowers (buds) are juiced.  Project 60, a project the two are launching, aims to encourage medical cannabis patients to begin juicing the plant matter allows 60 times more cannabinoids to enter your body’s cannabinoid system.

For those who’s participation in this event was their first medical marijuana conference, the information was delivered in one of the best methods possible.  Skeptic seniors who would otherwise never feel comfortable learning about this topic in other environments were given the option, and took advantage of the opportunity, to learn from some of the industry’s most well-informed and passionate patients, physicians, and advocates.

Cannabidiol (CBD), which was bred out during the last forty years, has found its way back into this market and is met with the warmest and most exciting greeting reception as groups like Project CBD, Feminine Seeds, and of course Dr. Courtney and Ms. Peskuski.

Dr. Donald Abrams, one of the world’s leading researchers in the field of cannabinoid therapeutics, was also a featured speaker who many in attendance waited a long time to see their lecture.  Dr. Abrams, who was one of the first physicians in America to study the efficacy of marijuana as medicine, discussed first-hand just how he first began conducting the research and what the results meant for the medical marijuana movement as a whole.

The last panel to speak featured an all-star cast of patients and advocates.  Apothecary Genetics’ Bret Bogue, who helped make the event possible, introduced the panel shortly after addressing the audience with his own story about his battle with cancer.

Also on the last panel was Kush Media’s Cheryl Shuman, who has been an inspiration to many in this movement.  Cheryl shared her patient story, which includes the denial of a liver-transplant due to her status as a medical marijuana patient.

After being told she would never have children, Kirsten Peskuski (left) shares with Mieko Perez how juicing cannabis helped her body heal while Dr. Courtney (holding their baby) talks to Jeremy Joseph about after Cannatonic, the strain that had a lab result come back testing at 20% CBD. (Photo credit:

The Unconventional Foundation for Autism was also featured at the conference, as Jeremy Joseph, who is one of their lawyers and is also on the foundation’s Board of Directors, spoke on behalf of Mieko Perez and her son Joey, who was diagnosed with severe autism nearly ten years ago and, at age eleven, finds himself thriving with the use of medical cannabis.

William Britt, who founded the Association of Patient Advocates, was also on the patient’s panel and spoke of what it was like for him to first become involved in medical marijuana advocacy and patient’s rights.  Mr. Britt, who was trained as a court-qualified expert witness by Chris Conrad, also suffers from polio and spoke about his life both on and off the court.

The announcement of Cannatonic’s lab results testing at roughly 20% cannabidiol (CBD) was one of the most unanticipated announcements of the event, and even shocked those making the announcement!

For those of you who don’t know, CBD is a non-intoxicating constituent of the cannabis plant that has some of the most healing properties on the planet.  This is the first strain to have a CBD lab result testing at 20%, and strains that are lucky enough to have a percentage of cannabidiol worth mentioning pale in comparison to Cannatonic’s new result, which previously tested around 6-7%.

Depending on how a plant was grown, the quality and ratio of the constituents in the plant grown will adjust.  If a plant had organic bat guano or a myriad of chemicals, the plant will grow differently and be weaker or stronger.  From the size of the pot the plant is in to the conditions in which she is grown, a strain may very well in fact vary, especially where the sample was taken from out of the yield and at what stage the sample was taken.

Many cities enforcing ordinances that allow medical marijuana cultivation and/or distribution also require the medicine go through some form of quality control and most cities very much support efforts to ensure residents in a community know what is in their medicine to the extent in which we can test and otherwise learn about it.

Dr. Donald Abrams has been a leader researcher in the field of cannabinoid therapeutics for many years, focusing on AIDS, cancer, and pain management, to name a few.

Medicine as a whole is an imperfect science and the endogenous cannabinoid system (ECS) is in the neophyte stages of exploration and while many argue the patient community should not be forced to wait for scientific results to prove what they already know to be true, others who are not patients and have predetermined their opinion on this subject also have to learn about their own ECS.

The endocannabinoid system is the basis of medical marijuana knowledge and many need to be re-calibrated and re-learn what they think they remember from the seventies.

Multiple Sclerosis sufferer Letitia Pepper, 56, said she uses a glycerin-based tincture.  Wearing a Human Solution T-shirt that said “Pills Kill,” Ms. Pepper said friends are surprised when she credits medical marijuana for the change.

Shari Horne, a member of the Village Cannabis Club in Laguna Woods, the private community that played host to the conference, hopes to change the perception of medical cannabis use from recreational marijuana use, “We can do it by being the kind of people they’re not expecting. Get rid of that ‘Cheech and Chong’ attitude,” she said, referring to stand-up comedians famous for drug-focused routines.

“People our age — there’s no reason we shouldn’t be able to feel better,” she said.

For those who’s participation in this event was their first medical marijuana conference, the information was delivered in one of the best methods possible. A full day of intense lectures, mixed with some funny stories and some very tearful moments, skeptic seniors who would otherwise never feel comfortable learning about this topic in other environments were given the option, and took advantage of the opportunity, to learn from some of the industry’s most well-informed and passionate patients, physicians, and advocates.

Another senior pointed out that while ‘Cheech and Chong’ is comedy, medical cannabis is no a laughing matter. “It’s not about making sure we have it or don’t have it, well it is… but it’s more important that we understand how and why we are using it, to what purpose and extent we are using it.  What I remember, which I perhaps shouldn’t rely on, from smoking marijuana in college is preschool compared to the science explained to us today.  I hope those who don’t make it to a conference like this don’t rely on what they remember from the 70’s or when they tried it ‘once'”

The one-day event ended with the screening of Len Richmond’s hour-long film “What if Cannabis Cured Cancer?” around 7pm and while many stayed to watch the film, the seniors at Laguna Woods were getting tired and asked that the medical cannabis community return to continue educating them.

Many people who had hoped to attend were unable and were able to watch the event live online and there will also be a DVD made available through the website ( for ten dollars.

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