The collaboration between Fundació Alchimia Solidària and Fundació ICEERS began several years ago, back in 2015. After the first contact, it was clear that both groups – and the people who integrate them – had a multitude of mutual goals, with a shared view about the place that botanical drugs should occupy in the future society. The Fundació Alchimia Solidària has been one of the main sponsors of the first two editions of the CANNABMED Congress, so we have been able to promote the debate on cannabis regulation and the defense of the rights of its users in different places and formats throughout this time. “Òscar Parés, Fundació Iceers”
Last Friday May 11 and Saturday May 12, the 2nd edition of Cannabmed was held in Barcelona, a congress organized by ICEERS Foundation which is the only event in Spain dedicated to cannabis patients, their families and caregivers.
In addition to making patients’ voices heard in demand of cannabis regulation, this 2nd Cannabmed edition brought therapeutic cannabis closer to health professionals by dedicating the first day of the congress exclusively to medical professionals.
The colleagues from Alchimiaweb and Fundació Alchimia Solidària – who were lucky enough to attend the 2nd day as sponsors and listeners – want to share their experience highlighting the importance of the work done by all organizations, entities, companies and people that will make a global regulation of cannabis possible.
On this occasion, Cannabmed was held during two intense days in 2 different scenarios, with Endoca Foundation, Fundació Alchimia Solidària, Phytoplant Research and Enecta CBD extracts as main sponsors.
1st day at the Official College of Physicians of Barcelona (COMB)
With a first-class, technical and scientific team, several seminars and activities were organized based on the scientific rigour of the history of both medicine and the endocannabinoid system, as well as the therapeutic action of CBD (Cannabidiol) and other cannabinoids. This part of the congress was mainly aimed at health professionals.
It was a great chance for neurologists, biologists, psychologists, psychiatrists, doctors in pharmacology, experts in drug addiction, physicians and many more professionals to talk and freely share their knowledge on therapeutic cannabis, also to discuss about the difficulties, opportunities and challenges to be met when giving advice to users of cannabis and its derivatives.
This first day at Cannabmed 2018 was very useful for the training of all professionals, which was accredited by the Continuing Education commission of the National Health System. It also served to make clear that the current situation is torn between vocation and social reality (legal vulnerability and social stigma).
2nd day at the Center of Contemporary Culture of Barcelona (CCCB)
At 9:45 am on Saturday, the second day of the congress began in the heart of Barcelona, in a large space where dozens of attendants, along with patients and relatives, could participate in the most humane side of medical cannabis.
Òscar Parés (deputy director of the ICEERS Foundation) welcomed us with a short summary about the work done since the 1st Cannabmed edition – held in 2016 – and, thanks to the efforts done over the last year, the UPRC (Union of Patients for the Regulation of Cannabis) was presented, while the figure of Goyo Fernández (deceased at the end of 2017) was fondly remembered, an endearing activist and a very dear person within the Spanish cannabis community.
Presentation of the Patients Union for the Regulation of Cannabis (UPRC)
Queralt Prat presented the Union of Patients for the Regulation of Cannabis, a non-profit organization made up of patients, relatives and caregivers of people who use cannabis to treat their conditions.
A union of patients that simply aspires to the most basic rights: freedom for people who use cannabis for health reasons and a legal framework for the cannabis market in which they can access it safely, at the lowest possible cost and with the highest quality.
Thanks to this group, a number of alliances between other associations and public and private institutions have been created, mainly aimed at improving the quality of life for users of medical cannabis through services such as education, counseling and of course activism.
If you share their goals, and either to offer your help or to ask for it, we invite you to contact them here: www.pacientescannabis.org.
From the international perspective of cannabis to the use of cannabinoids at home
Once the presentation of this group finished, some of its components moderated the interesting talks that, apart from providing information to the public, thrilled the attendees throughout the day. The symbiosis created between such different types of people all sharing the same goal – to improve the quality of life of people suffering from health problems – was the guiding thread during the whole day.
We could also hear Manu Sareen, former minister of Denmark, who recounted the situation lived in his country and encouraged us to continue fighting for the Regulation of Cannabis in Spain.
The speakers also talked about an international perspective of the cannabis plant, in which the origins of prohibition and control date back from the unique 1961 Convention on Narcotic Drugs of the United Nations. A Convention (with an amendment adopted in 1975) that today – 57 years later – seems completely outdated and obsolete to the general public of our changing world.
Focusing now on the present, they told us about the control and safety measures that should be taken into account when using cannabis-based products. These are the main concerns of therapeutic cannabis patients:
- Legality (possession, transporting, …)
- Lack of information (quality, dosage, health professionals, …)
- Social stigma (generates isolation)
- Economy (expensive, no medical prescription)
Several doctors told us about the many ailments that can be treated with cannabis, stressing that, in some occasions, therapeutic cannabis is one of the latter resources taken into account. But we should remember that quality of life is what every patient with pain – whether transient or chronic – seeks when using cannabis or its derivatives. Also, they briefly talked about the most well-known cannabinoids (like THC or CBD) and many other compounds that still need further research, such as CBG, CBN or CBC, … Finally, Ivan Fornís (Energy Control) told us about the current quality and safety measures used when testing cannabis samples:
To know the composition:
- Neutral cannabinoids: THC, CBD, CBN, CBG, CBC, THCV and CBDV
- Acid cannabinoids: THCA, CBDA, CBGA, CBCA, THCVA and CBDVA
To detect possible contaminants:
- Fungi and bacteria: mycotoxins produced by moulds
- Pesticides: 469 different compounds (according to regulations)
- Heavy metals: cadmium, mercury and lead (according to regulations)
- Residues and solvents.
General conclusions on cannabis testing by Energy Control:
- There’s a lack of laboratories meeting all the analytical needs of quality control.
- The most tested product is cannabis bud, followed by hashish.
- Most strains do not exceed 20% THC. 37% of samples have CBD in quantities similar to THC.
- The majority of hashish samples exceed 25% THC, almost always presenting CBD but in very low amounts.
- CBD is on the rise. Since 2011, an increasing number of strains rich in CBD have appeared on the market.
- Pesticide and heavy metal control measures can not be applied as long as there is no cannabis regulation.
- Half of the samples contain pesticides and virtually all of them contain heavy metals.
And this is where other aspects also come into play. The lack of dosage standards makes it even more difficult to prescribe cannabinoids, as effects may differ from one patient to another. Moreover, the difficulty of accessing this type of treatments is always there, and in many cases the interaction of several cannabinoids (THC, CBD and also terpenes) is necessary to obtain proper results.
Jorge Fernández – Hermes (MiniVap) provided extensive information on the use of vaporisers for medical purposes, with some basic tips on how to choose the correct cannabis vaping device:
- Device quality: Stable temperature (no overheating). Certified, food grade materials.
- Manufacturer quality: CE Marking (different from China Export CE). Close technical service (Spain or Portugal in our case).
- Convenient and easy to use: Your device must be easy to use and intuitive. Simple start up and cleaning.
Once you’ve made your choice, avoid vaporising at high temperatures, pay special attention to the presence of heavy metals, spores or bacteria in the product you’re using, and always verify its source and homogeneity (concentration).
ICEERS video about the testimony from a patient:
We had the opportunity to hear first-hand testimony from patients who thrilled the audience with their courage and spirit of improvement. From users who grow their own flowers at home to ensure the quality of their medication to Clubs and Associations that in some cases offer medical advice to cannabis patients.
They also shared the results of a study conducted by ICEERS on patients who had used cannabis to alleviate their ailments for two years, in which they demonstrated that the vast majority of persons achieved better quality of life and a reduction – and even replacement – in the consumption of other drugs with unwanted side effects.
This study on patients treated with cannabinoids was carried out by ICEERS with the following goals:
- To know the social-healthcare reality of therapeutic users.
- To identify indicators of health and well-being.
A quality of life that we – people who don’t suffer pain – do not consciously value, since we can stand on our own feet, rest, eat and interact correctly … Even beyond the physical pain, they told us about the psychological anguish to which any of us is exposed, with several goups especially affected by the prohibition of cannabis.
We heard the claims of some of these groups through the same professionals that work hard to improve the lives of these people, people like us who must get through very complicated personal circumstances and situations, in some cases even deprived of their freedom and in a situation of risk in terms of drug addiction.
A short stop for lunch gave us the strength to continue throughout the afternoon with Josep Pàmies (Farmer-Activist) and Bryan Peguero, with speeches by experts in the treatment of cannabinoids in chronic diseases (especially in cancer). We were also shown several studies carried out in laboratories in which the potential use of cannabis for cancer and the derived treatments was evidenced.
Alberto Sainz (GHMedical) stressed the difference between symptom (in which low doses are normally used until improvements are observed) and disease (generally treated with higher doses and without direct indicators).
Then, and during the talk of Dr. Mariano García de Palau about the use of cannabinoids in the treatment of childhood epilepsy, the testimony of several parents with children suffering from different diseases thrilled the attendees, who could empathize with these families and their problems, families that suffer but at the same time fight and smile so their children can live with dignity for the rest of their lives.
Conclusions on the II Cannabmed Congress
Once again, José Carlos Bouso (Director of Scientific Projects of the ICEERS Foundation) regretted the lack of presence of personalities from the political scene in this event, who were invited but could not attend due to prior commitments.
It was a day full of emotions, a day that everyone should live. We know politicians hear but do not listen, and it seems as people only react when a situation like this touches them personally. We wish no one had to live with pains or illness, or with a fulminating diagnose that changes your life from one day to another.
It is everyone’s responsibility to face this reality. The fact that cannabis is not a panacea is clear now, it may not work for all diseases or cases, but we must continue fighting to investigate and be able to offer it with total freedom and safety in those cases where it could work.
Alchimia is honoured to collaborate in this type of initiatives, which contribute to dignify the cannabis plant and its derivatives. After a long history of unfair prejudices and lies, we hope that events like Cannabmed will continue claiming for cannabis legalization and regulation at all levels.
We’d like to thank the organisation and all participants of the 2nd Cannabmed edition, which made us see things much clearer and reinforced our hope so cannabis will soon occupy its correct place in society!