The January program was held at the Marriott Northwest in the newly renovated Arbor Lakes room on Janaury 21. New members Pam Voelkel and Ruth Fisher were introduced and presented with a ten dollar bill as is tradition when a new member attends their first meeting.
We were treated to a delicious dinner generously subsidized by the MN Pork Board. We dined on Caesar salad, pork tenderloin with mushroom gravy, roasted garlic mashed potatoes, mixed vegetable medley, freshly baked rolls, and a white chocolate mousse dessert shooter.
Our speaker for the evening was Emily Leuer, new products formulations scientist with Vireo Health, Inc– a medical marijuana producer. Emily received her graduate degree in Food and Nutritional Science with an emphasis in Food Science and Technology from UW-Stout. Her undergraduate degree was in accounting. After graduating from UW-Stout she worked in process engineering for food and beverage producers. She desired to get involved in cannabis but most jobs are in states where marijuana is legal. She was very excited when an opportunity opened up for her in Minnesota with Vireo Health, Inc. Her years of experience working in the food and beverage industry carries over into her work today in helping to bring many new cannabis products to the market which are safe, effective, and appealing to consumers.
Vireo Health, Inc was started in 2015 in Otsego, Minnesota where they grow, dry, extract and prepare the formulations for the cannabis products. Everything that is created is third party tested and then products are sent to dispensaries in Minnesota, Pennsylvania, Massachusetts, Ohio, New York, Rhode Island, Arizona, Nevada New Mexico and Puerto Rico.
For products in Minnesota they are color labeled– Red is the highest levels of THC (used mostly for cancer patients) all the way to indigo which is CBD dominant and used often with children with epilepsy. Cannabis products come in oils, balms, topicals, oral sprays and pills (tablets). They have recently developed a water soluble powder which can be added to food or water. This makes it good for microdosing and also easier to give to children.
In Minnesota to qualify for medical marijuana one must visit their health care provider and be diagnosed with a qualifying medical condition: cancer, intractable pain, terminal illness, Tourette’s, ALS, HIV, PTSD, autism, obstructive sleep apnea, Chron’s disease, or glaucoma. New conditions recently added include chronic pain and macular degeneration.
So how does cannabis react with the human body? The human endocannabinoid system exists to retain homeostasis in the body. It exists in all vertebrates. There are receptors throughout the whole body and plays a role in many important processes: sleep, stress, pain, mood, immunity, appetite, and memory. Different cannabinoids bind with different receptors. THC works like a neurotransmitter. There are over one hundred cannabinoids and three hundred terpenes found in marijuana. These cannabinoids in their acid or neutral forms provide different benefits including: anti-inflammatory, anti-emetic, relaxation, anti-convulsant, pain relief, insomnia relief, and more.
Although there are many benefits to cannabis the industry is facing several challenges. The industry is new and there is a lack of regulation (especially with commercially available CBD products!). Emily recommended asking for a 3rd party report when purchasing CBD products. If they cannot produce a report–she said to find another supplier. There is also a so-called “cannabis tax” where products marketed toward cannabis producers tend to be more expensive than comparable products in other industries. Emily knows this to be true as she has worked for food producers who use similar products and knows their price! Lastly there are banking and tax issues. Many large banks will not work with the cannabis industry and many standard business tax deductions are not allowed for cannabis companies.
Emily stated that the sky is the limit as far as where future research and cannabis products are concerned. Many thanks to Emily for such an interesting and informative session! Thank you also to the MN Pork Board for offsetting the meal cost and for the giveaways they provided as well.