by Jim Leslie
Only 4 days after the Medical Marijuana Education seminar was held at the University of British Columbia (UBC) in Vancouver, presented by Greenline Academy, I was able to catch up in Kelowna, B.C. with
Don Schultz, President of Greenline. A Canadian citizen raised in Kelowna, Don worked for several years in the U.S. in a wide range of positions including airline transport pilot and real estate invest- ment. With the crash of 2008 came a forced change in occupation for Don, as he had some experience in natur- opathic healing and the use of herbs, getting into the legal medical marijuana business was a good fit.
Negotiating our way through Kelowna’s Orchard Park Mall to the food court, where our interview was to take place, we spoke of all things cannabis. Don made refer- ence to the elusive and aptly named “Ultra Strain” of the 1960’s in Canada, apparently a strain cultivated by nameless scientists which could produce up to 10% cannabidiol (CBD)! Perhaps there is a Canadian version of the hit TV series “Strain Hunters” starring Arjan Roskam of the Greenhouse Seed Company, waiting to be made?
Colorado, where Don received his education and training in medical cannabis, seems pretty stoked on auto-flower- ing strains. In particular, the strain “Lavender” came up as a very popular strain produced in the legal commercial grow facility Don apprenticed in. This indica x sativa hybrid melds a wonderful background of cannabis from around the world with magnificent terpene production, and reportedly finishes with one big cola up the middle. Check out the pictures from that very facility, where Don got to produce some very effective, aromatic medicine.
Greenline Academy came into being in April of
started the cross Canada seminar tour on all aspects of the patient-driven medical cannabis industry, with an impressive line-up of presenters which included Dr. Bob Melamede, professor of biology at the University of Colorado in Colorado Springs, CO. Readers of Treating Yourself will recognize Dr. Melamede from his appear- ance in the recent documentary film, “What If Cannabis Cured Cancer”, as well as numerous other lectures and presentations immortalized on Youtube. Dr. Melamede explains the free-radical link to age related illness and the powerful antioxidant actions of cannabinoids from cannabis that protect against it. All are encouraged to check out Dr. Melamede’s 2 hour presentation done for Greenline Academy on “The Physics of Life”, available on their website off the homepage (www.greenlineacad- emy.com ).
Respected defence lawyer and cannabis law expert, Don Skogstad, has presented on the legal issues surrounding medical cannabis, as well as how to successfully produce medical cannabis under Health Canada license, even in areas of Canada where police are not as accepting of this incredibly multifaceted, healing plant. Under the current proposed regulation changes by Health Canada to the Marihuana Medical Access Regulations (MMAR) that will license multiple commercial produc- tion sites for cannabis growing at the expense of the Personal Production License and the Designated Person Production License holders, many patients, activists, dis- pensaries and compassion clubs fear a corporate end to their ability to grow and provide affordable cannabis medicine. With the health and safety of so many patients across Canada sustained by PPL’s, DPPL’s, and dispen- saries/compassion clubs it is refreshing to see companies like Greenline Academy stand up for these important rights to produce and use cannabis medicine. As Don Schultz states unequivocally, there is a vital need for PPL’s, DPPL’s, and dispensaries/compassion clubs to be protected and included in Health Canada’s new system.
After arriving in the food court, the following interview took place over fruit smoothies seated at a plastic table:
What brought you back to Canada and medical marijuana?
Don Schultz: Getting Greenline Academy established was what brought me back after the real estate crunch in the
U.S. so I was looking at different opportunity and found a couple websites related to the medical marijuana industry. So I was looking at Oaksterdam, in Oakland, and they weren’t certified by the state. And I also looked at another company called Greenway University in Colorado and I ended up finding out that they were state certified and went to them and went through all their programs, as far as the MBA, Medical Marijuana Business Administration and I graduated through that. I graduated from all their medicine making courses (making oils, salves, tinctures, and creams), and also as a Master Cultivator, receiving my Master Cultivators Certificate.
So after all that I decided it might work up here in Canada, so I came up here to look at the whole program, and I had my first seminar in Kelowna expecting maybe 25 to 30 people and ended up with 100. One seminar went to another one, and we did 6 seminars last year: Concordia University in Edmonton, went to University of Winnipeg in Manitoba, and then University of Victoria, UBC, and this summer I will be in Calgary, at the University of Calgary. So we are fortunate to be able to get into those facilities, but it’s been a challenge from opening up a bank account all the way through to advertising, that whole part.
What have you found from travelling across the country and giving these seminars in regards to police response?
DS: Well, the police response, I’ve not had an issue with that, being totally, legally compliant and all that. I actually
would like to see a lot more of them sit in just to learn about the industry, to see that we’re the medical
people, to do with medical marijuana, we’re not the illegal people.
And I’d like to see it move in the right direction.
So with seminars upcoming across the rest of Canada, towards the East, through the rest of 2012, what other projects or directions are you looking at going in, what’s on the horizon for Greenline Academy after the seminars?
DS: Well we’re probably trying to do 3 or 4 seminars by the end of September here, and then we’re expanding out in the educational area, so we’ll teach, a lot of botany to hor- ticulture, medicine, all that sort of thing with Greenline Academy. We’d like to do it on the website.
So anyone could log in from around the world? DS: Anywhere in the world, they could log into it and get educated on medical marijuana.
So what are your views on the changes Health Canada is talking about with their medical marijuana program, how does Greenline play into these changes and what’s your view on it?
DS: As far as what? Production for commer- cial…
Yeah, they’re trying to clean up the industry so to speak and they’re trying to make room for commer- cial production of cannabis and I’m wondering what your view is on their proposed regu- lations.
DS: I don’t mind commer- cial production but I do
think there needs to be a medium in there where the patients can get educated, so whether it’s into strain selec- tion or wherever, that extra education needs to be there for the patient so that they can evaluate it with their medical condition. Because a lot of doctors are not familiar with it so you need some people that are really specialized in that end.
Have you noticed a large contingent of doctors, are you able to perhaps identify them attending your seminars? Do they come up and talk to you after?
DS: Well they like their privacy I guess you could say, they don’t tell anyone who they are or anything. We’ve had pharmacists come, doctors, nurses, many different kinds of people do come to the seminars. So it’s great because everyone is getting educated.
Have you seen your numbers grow as the semi- nars proceed from last year?
DS: We see an influx of quite a bit from seminar to semi- nar, so from a year ago, yes, it’s an increase. We’ve dou- bled in size as far as classrooms. So that’s great news that it’s getting out there.
Has there been any response generally to Greenline from patients in Canada currently who are looking for education, who’s your number one caller when they are asking questions, who is coming to you guys for information right now?
DS: We get a lot of people interested in being designated growers, I would say 40%, and probably another 40% are patients, and the other 20% are the other people in the industry.
Now specifically with designated growers and the personal production licenses, Health Canada has suggested they are going to eliminate them, phas- ing them out over the next couple years and in exchange for these large commercial production systems. Do you see a place in the future for the personal production and designated growers or is this something that should go fully commercial as Health Canada would like to see?
DS: I’d like to see the designated grower program stay, as far as patients growing their own medicine. If you want to look at it from the perspective of medicine, you know, if a patient has already been growing a certain strain of mari- juana, I don’t know if that commercial producer is going to be able to produce the same strain. So I think there is a conflict there.
DS: Exactly, so if they’ve got some with a high percentage of CBD’s is that commercial facility also going to have that. So that’s where the controversy comes in.
From your background coming out of Colorado, which has moved ahead in the United States legal- izing medical marijuana, they seem to be very suc- cessful at it, they seem to have a decent regulato- ry system in place. With the production of cannabis in Colorado are there a lot of sativa strains being grown?
DS: Oh yeah, they do have all those strains, they have the pure indicas, they’ve got the pure sativas, and the hybrids between them so, I guess for selection, uh your dispensa- ry can talk to you about it. They try different strains and a patient can come back and try different strains so, that’s where a dispensary comes in, you know, they can talk to the people at the counter and ask them certain questions, which is just more research and education.
It seems to me that patients titrating their own dosage is something that’s foreign to our allopath- ic medicine, traditional doctors, but to have some- one in between the patient and the doctor and grower to help bridge that gap with education and information is a very valid thing. It’s some- thing that should be entrenched and protected to make sure patients are aware, don’t eat too much of this edible, or only use this as a topical, there are other options to smoking, strain selection. Are there going to be courses offered from Greenline that talk about this type of offering to patients, like could someone who starts a dispensary take a course on how to educate patients and how to deal with…
DS: Yeah, we call it bud-tending.
Bud-tending!DS: We’ll have courses, I’ve gone through all that in Colorado. I’m not from Colorado I’m from Kelowna, B.C
DS: Canadian. We’ll have bud-tending courses, we’ll have commercial grow-op courses where we’ll teach you how to set up a commercial grow-op, we’ll teach you how to set up a dispensary, so we’ve got all the numbers and figures it will take to set up a business.
I understand from looking on the website that you also supply complete paper packages for applica- tions, if there’s any concerns in regards to setting up a licensed grow, how to deal with municipal by- laws, zoning issues and so forth…
DS: All the ordinances, laws, regulations, the by-laws like you said in different places. You’ve got to be aware of that before you get into business. So we get into the business aspect of it as an industry.
What are your views, short term here, on the next 5 years, if you could look at what is happening now in Canada, what you’ve seen over the last year, if you had to predict where medical marijua- na is going to go as an industry to, what do you see happening?
DS: It’s really hard to predict, with the Conservative govern- ment, or if the NDP gets in, you know they have their dif- ferent thoughts so I think there’s going to be a bit of a stall, they’d like to probably do something in the next couple years but I think it will go into three or 4 years, or even longer, it is politics. But as long as we’re doing the right thing, educating about the medicine, the laws, and the cul- tivation, that’s our purpose.
So all things being equal, the law will catch up with the top quality education and science that is behind medical marijuana.
DS: Yeah, if you look at it from that point of view, as far as government and controlling the whole system
Can I just ask you to
make one comparison between Colorado as it stands
now, a state that is regulating legal medical marijuana, and what you’re
seeing in Canada right
now? How far behind would Canada
be in regards to this type of
framework that they have, they seem
like they’re more organized and there’s
more acceptance from the
DS: Well, you can look at it two different pictures, Colorado does have it together with all their laws and everything but they have a lot of flaws in the system, as far as dispensaries and that there’s too many of them on one street. You see 30 or 40 dispensaries on a block, I mean, there’s no need for something like that. Canada, I think, has a great system because the medical marijuana system is federal govern- ment, whereas in Colorado it’s the state. The federal gov- ernment in the U.S., basically can come in and shut down anyone if they really wanted to. Here in Canada I like our system because it’s run federally and that to me is the most positive part of it all.
Did you have any experience going through other states that have regulated medical marijuana? Have you spent any time in California, for instance, who also seems to be a big player right now?
DS: They’re not legal, Colorado is the only legal state in the
U.S. right now. California, you know as far as one patient I think you’re allowed so many plants, 6 plants or something like that but dispensaries and all, they’re starting to shut a lot of them down.
So in California, under a proposition (Prop. 215) that was voted in by the citizens in ’96, there is sort of a patchwork quilt of regulation in the state as far as how to control it. You have the DEA coming in federally and shutting down dispensaries, yet when you look at Colorado you don’t seem to have the same level of DEA action…
DS: They’re very conservative compared to California.
It would seem to me for instance, in Colorado they have a production facility wired with cameras, dis- pensaries wired with cameras that all go back to the tax department. There’s a lot of oversight, this doesn’t seem to be the case in California, does that spur some of the federal crackdown do you think? DS: That could have a lot to do with it, you know they’re setting an example of what it should be like. So as far as Canada I would like to see some of it, as far as the cameras, I’m not sure we need it.
It might be a little heavy…
DS: Yeah, keep it easy and clean and…
Yeah, no need to over regulate. Canada is federal- ly controlled, at least it’s legal, that’s been decided, now it’s just a matter of looking at policy and see- ing how best to suit the patients needs and the growers, and the dispensaries.DS: In the states medical marijuana law was brought in by the basic state. Here in Canada it was brought in because there was the Parker case, so it wasn’t Health Canada say- ing “Hey guess what, you can use this…”, it was the Parker case that won and allowed medical marijuana to come into
the industry, so if you look at the two countries there’s quite a bit of difference in that alone.
Yes, we actually have a federal legal system enforced by a court decision, which the federal government must abide by and they’ve been back to court many times in the last 10 or 12 years and we’re still going to court over and over again.
DS: So we’ll get down the rapids in a boat sooner or later, it’s just a matter of getting everything straightened out before we get to the bottom and I think Health Canada is really doing a good job, I mean I wouldn’t want to be in their position right now with all the controversy going on out there. But I think they are doing a good job they’re get- ting the licenses out to patients in about 6 to 8 weeks. And that’s what it’s all about is the patient. So protecting the patients is the number 1 thing to consider in this industry.
Across Canada have you noticed over the last year that there’s been maybe more doctors open to signing medical marijuana forms, is the education starting to take hold?
DS: It is expanding, doctors are getting educated, we’ve found that a lot more doctors are starting to sign off on patients. That’s just part of the educational program.
Do you have any personal stories in regards to improving health with medical cannabis from the past or other people that you have known that you would want to share with the readers of Treating Yourself?
DS: Just all the patients I have worked
with doing all these
seminars across Canada. I’ve seen miracles as far as healing to do with cancer, talking to many multiple sclerosis patients it’s incredible how it helps them, and as far as severe arthri- tis it works fantastic, you know, creams and that which are only legal in B.C. for patients to use right now. It’s a fantas-
tic medicine and you don’t get high from it. I hope that that will grow throughout the country to allow topical, because
to me it makes more sense to have other options like topi-
cals than it does for smoking the medicine.
And you can target the area of the body specifically. DS: And also not a lot of people know there are vaporizers you can use to take the carcinogens out of smoking the cannabis. Carcinogens are no good for you, there are vaporizers which heat the constituents up in the plant to a certain temperature where you just get the cannabinoids out of it.
And is that something you show in the seminars? Do you provide any demonstrations on vaporiz- ers?
DS: We do have a demonstration on vaporizers, and that and our clinical herbalist goes over how to use therapeutic cannabis so we go over all those topics.
And just to recap, when it comes to personal pro- duction, designated production, and commercial production of medical cannabis, Greenline is of the opinion that they all have a place ideally in a reg- ulated medical marijuana industry for the patients who can’t afford to buy retail medical cannabis can produce their own, all the way up to big busi- ness because it’s a large market that will have to be served. Do you see a place in this for the two licenses that Health Canada would like to cancel? Would it be a good idea to protect them?
DS: I do think that the designated grower license, I would like to see it stay in place, and who knows what’s going to happen we’ll find out when Health Canada comes out with something else.
Thanks very much for talking to me, Don.
DS: Thank you.