Education Before Recreation
M3 executives share wisdom at Kaya Fest
When members of the Marley family decided to throw Kaya Fest, an annual party to honor Bob Marley's Kaya album, it was important to them that cannabis be represented in line with their family's beliefs. Namely, that it should be respected as a natural medicine. To further their "education before recreation" message, an educational forum was included as part of the musical festivities (which featured A-list artists such as Lauryn Hill, Cypress Hill and Damian, Ziggy, Stephen and other members of the Marley family).
M3's President Kyle Kietrys and Chief Medical Officer Dr. Jenny Wilkins were both invited to speak at the forum, and they were so well received that M3 has been asked to coordinate next year's symposium.
From this year's event, here is an edited version of Kietry's speech:
ROUGHLY TWO MILLION YEARS AGO, a guy woke up, looked over at his pregnant girlfriend and decided to get some breakfast. He took a few steps in the cave, stubbed his toe, and screamed in pain.
The endocannabinoid system had arrived.
Fertility, pregnancy, appetite, mood, memory, pain—all of that relies on the network of receptors and transmission pathways that constitute the ECS. How important is it? Consider sea squirts. Found in the oldest fossil records, sea squirts have an ECS, meaning the ECS has been around since the dawn of our existence. It survived several mass extinctions, countless volcanic eruptions, all manner of disease and even ’80s French pop until it was finally identified, in 1992.
If the ECS wasn’t important, nature would have let it go a long time ago.
It appears that all land animals have an ECS, and in humans it’s in our central nervous system, in every organ, all over the place. Recent research has shown that it might have a signaling influence on the mitochondria in our cells — the ECS might affect every single cell in our bodies.
It’s mostly in the the gut, where it maintains the homeostasis of our immune system, keeping us balanced, helping us to avoid disease. No other system in our body does that, just the ECS.
So to stay healthy we need to maintain this system — we have a responsibility to do so, and nature has given us the tools.
RESPONSIBILITY TO MAINTAIN
In the past, many of our foods were full of cannabinoids. Whole foods still contain them, foods like mangoes and spinach, but in the past foods were packed, absolutely full of them, and so a balanced diet was all we needed. Today though, due to processing and genetic modification, our food is a shell of what it used to be. Our ECS no longer gets what it needs from foods alone, and so we must supplement. Nature’s solution: cannabis.
We first thought, well, cannabis affects the central nervous system—“Cool! I got high!” Now we know THC did that, and that it’s only one of more than 100 cannabinoids in cannabis that have been discovered. And those cannabinoids do a lot more than just get you stoned. CBD is another, of course, and its effects on anxiety, muscle spasms, skincare and more are finally beginning to be appreciated on a wider scale. And there’s so much to learn.
The more we learn, the more it informs perspectives on treatment. People like Kelly Brogan, a psychiatrist who weans patients off of pharmaceuticals, and James Maskell, founder of The Functional Forum, are part of a functional medicine movement that focuses on treating root causes, not symptoms.
This is how it was, right? Keep your body balanced, it stays healthy. And so we’re going back to the future, newly exploring an ancient system within ourselves and realizing our own healing potential. Not introducing new chemicals and toxins to our bodies, but putting back into our bodies what’s missing, using cannabis to empower our bodies and ourselves.
And we’re not shooting in the dark. I’m so happy to be working with Dr. Jenny Wilkins, who’s developed tests that will evaluate the functioning levels of your ECS and identify deficiencies, which can then be addressed. This is all about empowering your body to pre-empt issues, taking charge of our health now so that we don’t experience the DIS-ease later—or ever.
Now cannabis isn’t a magic bullet—you shouldn’t think “Oh cannabis can do everything for me!” It’s only part of a health and wellness solution, one that also involves engaging your inner healer.
And as we begin to do that, to empower our own homeostasis, as we begin to maintain and to balance our Endocannabanoid systems, then our ECS begins to balance us. And this is visible not just in individual health, but in the health of communities.
Now what do I mean by community? Well, let’s go back to the sea squirt, who lives with his friends in a cluster of sorts. There they are, all on a rock together, and they can’t leave that rock. They have to take care of it—and they have to take care of each other. This means cooperation, not competition. If they don’t work together, the entire community will suffer. This is an ancient system. Creatures on a rock together that need to cooperate or they’ll perish… Sound familiar?
Consider the greater community, the Earth. How we grow cannabis, the amount of electricity and water that we use... All of that has an impact on the planet. So let’s use alternative energy, let’s find hydration and light solutions that have lower impacts, let’s create a cannabis industry with vertically integrated responsibility so that the entire chain from growing through to use follows the ethos of creating a better world overall.
Local community, the city you live in, your village, your people. Cannabis is already having a tremendous impact on jobs and economies. The illegal cannabis market is estimated at $50 billion per year in the United States, and we’re transitioning that to a legal market that could be worth far more, with jobs and taxes and opportunities at so many levels, bringing money into communities and keeping it there.
Also in local communities: balance. When I say balance I mean across the board, not just economics but socioeconomics and mental health as well. Marijuana has been called a “gateway drug,” accused of leading to increased drug use and all kinds of horrible impacts. But in fact communities in which cannabis is legal are showing less teen marijuana use, fewer DUIs, fewer opioids—a 15% reduction in opioid prescriptions, in fact. Cannabis isn’t a gateway drug, it’s an exit drug.
And in just one example of this: in my 20 years as an alternative health practitioner, I once worked with a 28-year-old man in New York. Due to a botched operation on his hip, this guy was in extreme pain. Over two years, he’d been on 12 opiates plus Gabapentin, Zoloft for depression… He was addicted, in pain, and miserable.
We started him on cannabis oil, but not just cannabis oil. We also employed turmeric and colostrum, and within three days, from 12 opiates, he was down to just a few. Eventually he transitioned off the drugs completely—and without suffering the synthetic heroin withdrawal symptoms. Now this wasn’t simply “take this oil and you’ll get better.” It was about embracing the experience, taking ownership of his own healing power. Cannabis was just part of the solution.
The potential impacts are huge: A better, stronger work force with a better outlook. Fewer sicknesses, fewer grieving families. Imagine communities growing their own medicine, their own food, their own basic fibers, being able to meet all of their own basic needs. People helping to heal each other. And even in recreation, cannabis is so much less damaging than alcohol, making for a healthier community in so many ways.
So planet, and city. And now HOME. We have a responsibility to manage the health and wellness of those in our homes, our families and loved ones. Even our pets — and did you know that dogs have 10 times the receptors that humans do? Exposure is different for them and so we have to be careful with cannabis around our pets.
And children. On one hand having tools like CBD to help treat issues like childhood epilepsy, but then also stressing that this is medicine, that they shouldn’t be using cannabis recreationally while their endocannabinoid systems are still maturing. If you add exocannabinoids into that development, it throws that whole process into disarray.
No stigma, no myths. It comes down to honesty and clarity, and that brings us to the last, most fundamental component of community: the individual.
It’s a Spider Man quote, right? “With great power comes great responsibility.” Actually it's an ancient quote, but it is true. You can give someone all the power in the world and the tools to effect great change, but if they don’t know how to use it then they can become unbalanced physically and spiritually. They can go off the rails and wreak havoc in their communities and in themselves. I’ve seen it happen.
Taking charge of cannabis, respecting it and using it responsibly begins with the responsibility we all have as individuals to get informed, to get educated. This is one of the main reasons M3 was created. It's why we're all at this forum today and it's why I got into this industry in the first place.
When I was in grad school at Rutgers, I wrote a paper on hemp as a central tool for socioeconomic change. Where the world was at that time—it was too early. No one was interested, and so I left.
Eventually I got into alternative health, working with homeopathic medicines and natural healing methods. I believed the gut was central to our long-term health, and I wasn’t wrong.
Six years ago I learned about the ECS, and at the same time I started working with extracts from California dispensaries to help people on the East Coast.
I was ecstatic with the results and excited about the potential for healing, but I’d started to hear that some growers were using pesticides and fungicides like Eagle 20, which contains myclobutanil, which converts to a highly toxic gas when it’s heated. Obviously this is unacceptable in medicinal cannabis.
And so when I learned that California had legalized cannabis for both medicinal and recreational purposes and that the state would be implementing a stringent plan for testing and quality control, I knew we had to start our business here, and so M3 was born.
In addition to growing and providing the cleanest, sustainably grown, highest-quality cannabis, we’re working to be at the forefront of cannabis education, to deliver the most accurate, comprehensive and up-to-date information to doctors, consumers, and industry insiders.
We're also working on innovative new products showcasing Dr. Jenny's amazing patented CBD formulations, incredible skincare products and a gut product, for example, addressing balance at the source.
And while everything I'm talking about is great for medicinal cannabis, it all translates to recreational as well. The way I see it, in a lifestyle focused on wellness, those lines will eventually blur.
There's so much to explore, so much to create, and M3 is proud to be part of shaping this lifestyle.
But we're just one part of a larger community that has carried the message of cannabis' healing power for thousands of years, and the evolution of cannabis is in many ways a return to form: we're chasing our very origins, re-claiming the tools and wellness we were given by nature, working to reduce our footprint on the Earth, to bring the gifts of nature’s wisdom full circle, enjoining, not exploiting. Partnering, not dominating.
In the modern era this has been the message of people like Jack Herer, who influenced me to write that paper at Rutgers. I have so much appreciation for him and for his son, Dan, who carries the message still. My appreciation also goes to artists such as Bob Marley and the other members of the Marley family, who show us that healing can take many forms, and that if the desire to be loved and to be healed is universal, then so should the respect for love and for healing power be universal and without judgement.
As Thich Nhat Hanh said, "Community is the Guru of the Future." We are the community, the future is now, and I’m so happy that we’re building it together.