Standardized Medical Cannabis Grows

by Dr. Hornby and John Berfelo

John winning first prize at the Treating Yourself Expo, Toronto, June 2011

John Berfelo (JB), I first met in 2005, when he came to a compassion club where I was conducting research.

At that time he wasn’t in good shape, having sustained serious multiple injuries in a fall, leaving him seemingly des- tined to a life of chronic pain and synthetic pharmaceutical painkillers. Over the past six years, I have come to know JB as one of the most courageous and genuine people I have had the pleasure to meet…this is a small part of that story.

Broken up and addicted to opiate painkillers was JB’s first presentation, yet there was a spark that told he was someone different, more tenacious than most, a good note keeper of his daily pain regimen, put most important a will to be better and optimize his well being. As a result of these qualities he became the subject of our first case study on cannabis and pain management, published in a peer reviewed medical journal. (

So I have been tracking JB for some time, he was my guinea pig when we began experiments with oral prepa- rations of cannabis, for pain management, plus various other natural supplements (TY issue #22 page 59-61 “Why Amino Acids Work”) that also proved beneficial. In the meantime JB signifi- cantly cut his use of some of the more power- ful pharmaceutical painkillers known, (Oxycontin, Supradol and Percocet and other SSRI drugs for depression).

JB underwent two recent surgeries ( L3-L4 fusion) only using cannabis for post-operative pain and has been completely off all pharma- ceutical medications for a number of years. Over this time period we spent many hours in interviews attempting to optimize JB’s pain management and his life and it’s course and the complete turnaround that it had made over these few short years. Being the tenacious sort of person that JB is, it wasn’t long before he was a fully licensed MMAR exemptee and was growing his own medicine.

And our often-daily interviews continued. What I have harped about all along is the need for standardization and quality control of medicinal cannabis. In everything from the seed up to oral or even smoke able product. That, too, includes the grow…the goal being consistent, reproducible medicine, time and time again. It also means that cannabis is now included with every other herbal medicine in Canada, by following the same pro- tocols for standardization and quality control.

It’s easy enough to standardize oral preparations as we did for JB, early on,

and that he continues to use as part of his pain regimen. But standardizing a grow…is a different thing, every- thing must be consistent from the lighting, to the nutri- ent, to strain selection. All must be the same each time, to get consistent product. Not possible you say…well Brother John has done it, not only with his own grow but with three other licensed grows as well, making a total of four identical grows each producing the same product, over and over.

And, that’s not quite it. JB’s medical cannabis entry won first prize at the 2011 Treating Yourself conference in Toronto for Medi Kush. Bravo, John Berfelo!

Now key to JB’s success both in standardizing the grow and the finished product was his choice of nutrient…well not really his choice since I strongly rec- ommended a product called Medi-One produced by, Green Planet Nutrients, here in British Columbia. What    I liked about this product, was the fact that it’s designed for people in chronic pain, those new to gardening and perhaps the down-right lazy, since its an extremely sim- ple product to use.

I’ve heard JB say many times, “You  can’t  screw  it up.” It’s ease of use comes from the fact that it’s a one part system.

You use Medi-One through vegetative and flower.

Simple. And it’s all-organic

with a primary ingredient being Atlantic Haddock a fil- ter feeding herring that is enzyme hydrolyzed into the mix. What I like about this fish is that it filter feeds plankton…a high impact nutrient source.


It does smell a bit and requires pH up, but other than that it’s tested and proven by JB and myself in numerous grow experiments to produce excellent quality medicine with the virtual yield of a full feed regimen that requires twice the cost and ten times the labor.

Hey it also won the Cup! Winning as the best medical marijuana to come from a personal grower. The strain that won was one of JB’s unusual Kush’s called Medi Kush, grown with Medi-One in a standardized fashion

by a medical patient. This is also the strain that JB uses for his pain control. He preps it into oral products like capsules, brownies or cookies and also smokes for breakthrough pain and daily management.  Since  JB  now has consistent product he can expect the same effect time and time again, the same degree of pain man- agement and a functional regimen, for any given strain.

What he will do from time to time is send a sample to myself for analysis (you can too*) and update on whether he’s still on track and for more than a  year, since beginning his standardization program and using Medi-One the product has been constant. Once again, good on ya Bro!

And then, as mentioned earlier, he was able to get three other growers to do the same and the chromatography shows they’re all consistent.

Chromatography being the technique that we use to measure the most abundant cannabinoids, namely, THC, CBD  and  CBN.  The  instrument  shown  below  also allows us to see the entire cannabinoid profile of the plant, all sixty-plus of them.

We use this technique to quantify the amount of THC, CBN and very importantly CBD in all forms  of  cannabis, whether it be raw bud, brownies or our beloved capsules. And it allows us to track cannabinoid formation during the growth cycle of the plant and to see products like Medi-one at work.

HPLC has been the tool of my trade for more than 30 years and has proven itself invaluable countless times in our research of medicinal marijuana.

As stated, we also used it to demonstrate the consistency in the grows supervised by JB and his standardization program. Shown below is an overlay of samples from the four different grow sites.

Note that the peak area is directly proportional to the concentration of the compound that made it. Therefore, the bigger the peak the more of the compound there is. By far the biggest peak is the one labeled thc-a which is the acid form of THC, that when heated converts one to one to THC. The THC-acid does not bind the receptor, THC does. The need for heat in activating cannabis whether it’s burned in a joint or heated into a brownie, the process called de-carboxylation, is the same.

On the previous page is an overlay of 4 different standard- ized grows all showing THC levels in the mid-twenty per-

cent range, the variation here is 3 to 4% points, not much when one considers the large variation in THC levels between strains and different crops, often more like 15%.

Needless to say we were very pleased with these results; JB, since he’d achieved his goal and myself since I could finally silence my rant.

In the above discussion we have steered away from hard science in attempts to present this concept to a general audience. It was our intent to let medical growers know of the possibility of producing standardized, consistent, medicine in relatively short time, at low cost, with ease, particularly with a simple, foolproof nutrient like Medi- One.

For further information on growing standardized medical grade marijuana contact


Grow in Peace.

*We are now accepting samples for cannabinoid analysis from licensed grows and dispensaries. For more information contact:

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