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Episode Audio

 

What You Will Learn in This Podcast

Blake’s Backstory [1:36]
What Blake Discovered When Testing CBD Products [3:24]
How Blake became the Chief Scientific Officer for Zion Pharmaceuticals [5:33]
What does Blake think about the Medical Marijuana rollout? [9:15]
Zion’s process for producing medicines [12:41]
Where will Zion’s products be sold? [13:35]
What’s the path for recreational marijuana becoming legal in Utah? [20:03]
Prior to Prop 2, did Blake believe a time would come when Medical Marijuana would be available in Utah? [21:59]
Blake’s goal with Zion Pharmaceuticals [24:21]
What is the best blend of cannabinoids for PTSD? [27:47]
What is the best blend of cannabinoids for pain? [28:51]
What is the best blend of cannabinoids for nausea? [29:57]
How can someone learn more about cannabinoids? [30:15]

Resources in This Episode

UtahMarijuana.org

Utah in the Weeds Podcast

I Am Salt Lake Podcast

Podcast Summary

Blake’s Backstory [1:36]

Blake Smith is the Chief Scientific Officer for Zion Pharmaceuticals. Zion Pharmaceuticals has a cultivation license and they should be ready to grow within the next two to three weeks. 

They also have one of the processing licenses, so they can do everything from extraction all the way to making the final product. 

Blake’s area of expertise is isolating specific cannabinoids for therapeutic purposes. He worked in pharmaceuticals as a bioanalytical chemist for a long period of time. He then left that and went into academia.

During that period of time, his daughter was diagnosed with a genetic condition that gives her seizures. A parent’s alliance he belonged to at the time suggested CBD products might be able to help her. 

Instead of jumping right into providing her with CBD, he tested a number of products in his lab.

What Blake Discovered When Testing CBD Products [3:24]

What he found was most CBD products were not what the company claimed them to be. CBD companies will tell you what the potency or cannabinoid content is. They’ll say that their products are pesticide free. 

However, Blake’s test discovered pesticide and metal residues. He also found the potencies were not consistent with what CBD companies claimed them to be.

It was the wild West. Not all products were bad, but there were a lot of products that were not what they claimed.

These were CBD products found in dispensaries and CBD stores, not on the black market.

How Blake became the Chief Scientific Officer for Zion Pharmaceuticals [5:33]

Blake got involved with a group that was growing hundreds of acres of industrial hemp. Specifically, he helped identify some issues they were having during that farming process. 

Later, they asked him to join as their Chief Scientific Officer. 

Their team extracted and processed thousands of pounds, if not tens of thousands of pounds of industrial hemp. 

When the legalization of Medical Cannabis was announced in Utah, Zion Pharmaceuticals decided they wanted to shift into making actual medicine. For example, a cancer patient with nausea could be given cannabis to make them feel high. However, the team wanted to start addressing the nausea directly. The cannabinoid Delta-8-THC, which also stimulates dopamine, could be used to help with nausea.

By adding dosing parameters around the medicine, this would become something that doctors should be interested in. 

What does Blake think about the Medical Marijuana rollout? [9:15]

Blake thinks Utah is moving in the direction of what people wanted. Most of his experience with doctors has been fairly positive, but they have no idea how to write a prescription. This is why people like Tim are needed to help during this rollout.

Utah allows for industrial hemp products. The reason why this becomes really, really important to us is because if you look at most marijuana strains, the biggest difference is the total amount of THC and terpene profile. That would be like trying to treat every disease known to man with ibuprofen and Benadryl.

Hemp has high concentrations of cannabinoids, such as CBG and CBB, which have been shown to help with neuropathy.

Utah is pretty forward thinking in allowing industrial hemp, knowing that there is no difference between industrial hemp and marijuana except for the THC content. Zion is focusing on providing specific cannabinoids for very specific therapeutic purposes.

Zion’s process for producing medicines [12:41]

Zion grows marijuana, then extracts it just like they would anything else. They also have a hemp extraction process, so that they can find very interesting genetics on the hemp side, extract those, isolate their cannabinoids, and supplement them into the medical market.

Where will Zion’s products be sold? [13:35]

Zion’s products are available to any pharmacy that wishes to sell them. Zion is not a pharmacy, so they rely on pharmacies to buy their products. 

Some pharmacies want to only carry their own products. However, if pharmacies are really doing this for the benefit of patients, they’d want to offer a variety of products for a variety of conditions.

Also, people who are experienced users run into “walls,” where they don’t get the same effect every single time from their product. For example, avid smokers of marijuana like to try different things. If a pharmacy is only carrying their own products, they are denying the patient the ability to choose from a wide variety of products that they might help them.

What’s the path for Recreational Marijuana becoming legal in Utah? [20:03]

Blake believes that Utah will move to recreational when we have an extremely solid medical program first to show that we’re responsible about how we think about medicines. There is never going to be a quick transition. He believes that if we don’t do this responsibly, Utah will add even more restrictions rather than opening things up.

Prior to Prop 2, did Blake believe a time would come when Medical Marijuana would be available in Utah? [21:59]

Yes. While at University of Utah, he talked with lots of doctors. He says most doctors were pretty open to medications that help their patients as long as it meets the criteria of (1) they know it is safe, (2) they know the efficacy, and (3) they know what the dosing should be.

Blake’s goal with Zion Pharmaceuticals [24:21]

Blake’s goal is to determine what specific cannabinoids do and see how they can use them for therapeutic purposes. They are following a good process and they are focusing on safer extraction methods. 

What is the best blend of cannabinoids for PTSD? [27:47]

A combination of CBC, CBN, THC, Delta-8, and Delta-9. A combination between Delta-9 and Delta-8. He would then add CBN to help relax. CBC will help activate the endocannabinoid receptors. 

What is the best blend of cannabinoids for pain? [28:51]

Blake recommends low levels of THC and Delta-9. He would also add CBG, CBD.

What is the best blend of cannabinoids for nausea? [29:57]

Blake recommends Delta-8, CBD, and CBG.

How can someone learn more about cannabinoids? [30:15]

There is lots of information out there. Some are good and some are bad. But there are scientific papers. 

Zion is also performing studies on cannabinoids.

2 responses to “Utah in the Weeds Episode #4 – Blake from Zion Pharmaceutical”

  1. Really great .. nice to see knowledge being spread.. I would love to help spread the knowledge even more than I do .. keep up the great work.. love life plant life 🌱

    • Thanks, Gary! If you feel you have medical cannabis information that could be of value to us and our patients, reach out to hello@utahtherapeutic.com. We’d love to hear your feedback and thoughts. We thrive on word of mouth, so be sure to tell your friends about the podcast as well. We want this information out there!

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