Twenty 4:20 #10 | Higher Learning LV is Coming

“We tend to have misinformation resulting from… almost a century of prohibition and programs like DARE and just you know, blatant misinformation not based on science whatsoever.”

— Curt Robbins

We desperately need a common vocabulary about cannabis — and one that’s not based on myth and misinformation. Cannabis educator Curt Robbins is doing something about this, with a new project called Higher Learning LV, a much-needed online course for cannabis professionals, as well as consumers. In this episode of our ongoing series of 20-minute segments, we discuss:

  • Data from Oasis Intelligence showing a need for cannabis education
  • The general state of confusion and ignorance around cannabis science
  • The need for a common understanding among scientists, regulators and the public
  • The fundamentals of cannabinoids, terpenes and flavonoids
  • How to learn more about the science of cannabis

Curt’s LinkedIn profile.

Kannaboom 0:00

Hey, it's Tom. Back before was safe to step out as a cannabis advocate, Curt Robbins wrote hundreds of articles for publications like High Times under the pen name Gooey Rabinski. Now that the industry has kind of come above ground, Curt continues to pay attention to the latest research on terpenes cannabinoids and everything else related to cannabis and make that information more accessible to the rest of us. So when Curt suggested we work together on 20 short segments on the various scientific aspects of cannabis, I said, let's do it. So today we have segment 10. We're looking at some recent research from Oasis Intelligence about the state of cannabis awareness in America. And we also chat about Kurt's new online course called Higher Learning LV. Every time I talk with Curt, I learned something amazing about cannabis and I think you'll pick that up too. If you like the podcast, please subscribe. Please leave a review so other people can find the show. And here is segment 10 of Twenty 4:20

Welcome to Twenty 4:20 the bite-sized educational podcasts from Kannaboom and Curt Robbins, author of more than 500 articles about the science of hemp and cannabis. We're giving 20 cannabis topics 20 minutes each to help you get smarter about terpenes, cannabinoids cultivars and much, much more. And our show starts now.

It's time I'm back with Twenty 4:20 Episode 10 with Curt Robbins. Hey, Curt, how are you?

Curt Robbins 1:17

Hey, I'm doing well, Tom, thanks for having me.

Kannaboom 1:19

It's been a while we did episode nine back in June, and this year has been such a strange beast. But there's so much to talk about still. And I know in the interim, you've been real busy on your latest project called Higher Learning LV. Can you tell us about that?

Curt Robbins 1:34

Yeah, it's a it's an effort to kind of — my educational materials right now are kind of strewn all over the place. What my relatives in Ohio would call hell's half acre. And because my clients have been all over, you know, they've they've been in Europe and the United States and Canada. And some of them do print magazines, and some of them do online knowledge bases. So I really wanted to consolidate it and articulate the training materials in a way that was most appropriate for the industry, and in my opinion, serves the needs of the industry right now. Because, as you know, Tom, we've got some gross ignorance, among both professionals and doctors and patients and consumers. Most people don't really know what they're talking about. Unfortunately.

Kannaboom 2:27

It is shocking. I mean, you and I are paying attention all the time to new studies, but maybe we take for granted that the public has come along on this. But you sent an interesting link to some intel from Oasis Intelligence that came out last June that really shined a light on some of the things that that we need to do a better job of teaching people about.

Curt Robbins 2:47

Yeah, it was really interesting. And it kind of understandably, got lost in the shuffle of COVID and the presidential election here in the states. But in mid June, a Los Angeles data analysis company, if you will, marketing intelligence company, called Oasis Intelligence took data that they had collected in late 2019, September through December. And they claim they claimed in June at the time, that it was the largest cannabis consumer survey performed to date. And at 20,000 participants, it sounds like it, there were some elements of the consumer survey that were impressive, quite honestly, not just that raw number of 20,000. But those 20,000 consumers were in every one of the 50 states in the U.S. So they got a nice cross section, not just of liberals, not just of conservatives, etc, etc, right? They they really had some impressive elements in their survey. Well, some of the results of the survey are quite shocking. One thing it showed was that about 75% of those responding when presented with terms like terpene, or endocannabinoid system, or things of that nature. They said what are you talking about? Never heard of that. So when we don't have gross ignorance of that type, we tend to have misinformation resulting from as you and I have talked about, at length, almost a century of prohibition and programs like DARE and just you know, blatant misinformation not based on science whatsoever.

Kannaboom 4:33

"Just Say No," it's still echoing in our heads. I know in some of the street lore about cannabis, but you know, there is research ongoing and as you mentioned, you know, terpenes, the endocannabinoid system, flavonoids, these things are foreign to a lot of people so I'm really glad that you've proceeded with Higher Learning LV to begin to teach people this stuff.

Curt Robbins 4:54

Right. It needs to be, I believe, first tackled, I mean, my seminars and courses which are instructor-led, and then eventually there will also be less-expensive canned videos, you know, not offering interaction or homework or, you know some of the mechanisms and dynamics that we used to get an instructor led environments because there were some reasons we used to go to instructor-led environments or pre-pandemic, there were a lot of benefit because you know, you got to drive, you got to spend money, time, money, effort. But now we find ourselves with the technology to do this all via services like Zoom or YouTube or whatever, it doesn't really matter specifically how it gets done. What matters is that big enough chunk of society now including these target groups, we're talking about like patients, wellness professionals, cannabis and hemp industry professionals. You know, if the professionals if the regulators and the government and the folks running this whole show, do not understand even the basics of the biochemistry of these phyto-molecules like cannabinoids, flavonoids, and terpenes, and how they interact at a very basic level, okay, we're not talking to M.D. or Ph.D. level, but how those molecules interact with the human endocannabinoid system. And oh, wait, it gets a little more complicated. Our dogs and cats get benefits too. But they're a little different than us. So don't make assumptions. So we find that it's a very deep science. The whole reason for Higher Learning LV is to try to give industry professionals and really anyone who wants to educate themselves a basic understanding, a mental framework and a vocabulary, because we really don't quite have that yet, as an industry.

Kannaboom 6:41

So you are focused on people who will be working in the industry, as well as just consumers.

Curt Robbins 6:46

Right. There'll be a variety of courses and in fact, different different segments. Of course, there'll be a Pro Series, for example, and the Pro Series will be targeted at different industry segments, like retail dispensing, for example, that's a very specific part of the industry, they play by certain regulatory oversight, certain laws and rules. And also certain industry standards that are beginning to emerge. Many of those are borrowed straight from regular non cannabis retail industry players, right, we've been, we've for hundreds of years, 1,000s of years, we've had retail establishments, and we've established, you know, created certain rules. So the folks running those facilities or, you know, investors or anyone involved in that government oversight and inspectors, they, it really behooves them to understand the basic rules of this plant. But when I say basic rules, it should get as specific as those particular industry segments. So I'm going to have a track for retail dispensing, there will be a track for processing and manufacturing. They'll also be, you know, tracks for, like laboratory testing. And the reason that's quite easy to be honest with you, because it's driven by regulatory oversight. So you just you make sure that not only do you in the training materials from a, an instructional design perspective, that you cover, all those basic fundamental issues that those industry professionals need to know. But then you ensure that you're doing what the government says you have to do. Many of these jurisdictions, states here in the U.S. require companies to train their staff. So they don't even have a decision in it. They they say, hey, if you don't train your staff, you can't maintain your license.

Kannaboom 8:38

We should mention too, you have a long background as an instructional designer, so you're not doing this in some kind of willy-nilly fashion. You know what you're doing. So what topics are you how do you wade into this, for an audience who really does need education? What topics are you starting with?

Curt Robbins 8:54

Well, I didn't feel like I really cracked the nut. And I'll just, you know, I'm sure some of the people around me would say I was foolish for giving away too many company's secrets, but I don't think it's any secret. I didn't feel like I'd really cracked the nut until I realized that the best approach to this instructional design challenge was to make it modular. And that different segments of industry professionals, whether you're a medical doctor, okay, and you're prescribing CBD, or THC or terpenes, or whatever, right, whether you work in that retail dispensary. What if you're just a patient, and you know, whatever. So I want to make sure I can satisfy those people too with less expensive, you know, under $100 seminars where they walk out with some real knowledge. But yeah, not everybody needs $600 you know, month-long training session, to make them one of the smartest doctors on the block and allow them to recommend cannabis. Technically, they don't prescribe, they recommend. At least that's the way it works right now.

Kannaboom 10:02

Right? So you'll have different tracks for different different specialties, as you say, Is there like a primer where you explain terpenes, flavonoids, endocannabinoid system, that kind of stuff?

Curt Robbins 10:14

Yes. I'm there will be — fundamental in any good instructional design, you know, collection of training materials, involves prerequisites. And it allows students and companies with staff and they need to train that staff to go in the direction that they want to go. So in other words, good training involves customizability. And that's why I'm approaching Higher Learning LV from a modular approach. Now, let's get back to some of those topics. You are inquiring about flavonoids, for example, we talked about flavonoids in a previous episode. It's a really amazing and thought provoking area of the hemp and the cannabis plant. And it's an area that most people aren't talking about. Right? So when we talk about ignorance in the industry, there's certainly a great deal of flavonoids as the perfect example of ignorance. Most of us don't even know I've never even heard the term.

Kannaboom 11:13

Is there a difference between recreational and medicinal? You know, the professionals are going to be more interested in the medicinal applications, I would think.

Curt Robbins 11:20

Right, I think it's fair to say and if you follow my social media, especially Twitter and LinkedIn, you see that you see the word 'science' a lot. You see the word 'research,' a lot, research studies, peer reviewed research studies. And so what I try to make sure is that any information that I include in any of my training is all evidence-based. It's based, in other words, if a cynic approached me and said, what you just taught there in Module Two, you know, I don't agree with that. I think it's propaganda. And I'm not sure that this marijuana thing is medicine. So why are you including this in your training, that I could cite multiple research studies to back up what I'm saying?

Kannaboom 12:08

Yeah. And that's just you as a professional knowing that this is how you really teach is, it's not opinion and feelings. It's actual science. Exactly.

Curt Robbins 12:18

Thank you. Yes. It's not it's not politics. It's not opinion. It's not feelings. It's not 'Oh, it's Tuesday morning. This is how I feel today.' No, gravity is gravity. And, you know, it's a constant rate. And, you know, that's, that's how we have to approach all of this. And I have to, you know, be my own disciplinary and on it, because we all walk around with kind of half truths and misperceptions in our minds, especially if we're over 30 years old, you know, because some of us went through dare programs, and we all grew up in a culture that, you know, took this and made it all Cheech and Chong and Scooby Doo. And, you know, that's all wonderful on the entertainment side, but it belies the biochemistry and the science of this plant and how it's real medicine.

Kannaboom 13:12

Right? Well, and back to that survey from Oasis, there's still a lot of hearsay. I mean, there's a lot of stuff that gets passed around from family and friends that might not have any validity at all.

Curt Robbins 13:23

Exactly. I would agree. I remember when some time I spent in Texas on a job project, and I was a daily consumer, and I obviously birds of a feather flock together. So I've met other daily consumers. And that was the interesting kind of common mindsets. And I'm sure that you know, this is not true of all people in Texas, I don't want to sound like that. But again, these are daily consumers of cannabis. They barely believe that it was medicine, even though they're putting it into their bodies every single day. They they would just barely agree with the whole medicinal side of it. And then I started preaching performance enhancement, and they thought I was crazy.

Kannaboom 14:02

Yeah, well, that's a big tipping point. I mean, in a lot of people, there's a lot of resistance to that. I mean, culturally, for decades, we're conditioned to believe that the medicinal aspect was a ruse. It's basically stoners on the couch, saying 'This is medicine,' but actually, it has very many applications as a serious medicine.

Curt Robbins 14:22

You're right. That's that's an excellent observation, Tom, because to this day, right now, there are probably 10s of millions of Americans, let alone other parts of the world who hold these misperceptions who believe exactly what you're saying that's just a bunch of Scooby Doo stoners who you know, are too lazy to grow it themselves. So they want to go down to the dispensary. So let's call it medicine, even though it's not.

Kannaboom 14:47

Right. And that's been disproven over and over again, and that will be covered in your course. And then the other aspect to this that you and I know because we follow it is there's new discoveries. Sometimes it seems by the week, flavonoids and terpenes. What can we expect as the science continues to advance?

Curt Robbins 15:06

Well, I mean, a great example of what you're saying is in December of 2019, a group of Italian researchers discovered not only two new cannabinoids, taking our count up to roughly 146 or so. But they discovered a whole new family of cannabinoids called this phorl family — P H O R L. And so, you know, that wasn't even a year ago. We need to expect especially industry professionals, if you work in hemp or cannabis, you need to be tuned in to this stuff. And quite honestly, you know, not to toot my own horn, but Higher Learning LV is going to be an efficient means of saying, okay, you know, we know there's a lot of research coming down the road in the future, but right up to today, what do we know, we've learned a great deal in the last five years, 10 years, 15 years, the volume of terpene research, flavonoid studies, cannabinoid studies is just mind blowing. I mean, I do this all day long. And I never ever run out of studies, to research summarize and cite,

Kannaboom 16:16

Right, there's dozens of studies at any given time that you could delve into. And when the public is this far behind, there's a lot of blocking and tackling with the fundamentals. I mean, you know, just explaining the entourage effect could could take an hour.

Curt Robbins 16:32

Right. And, and I'm gonna, the training materials will be structured as such that some people need and want a shallow dive, okay, they don't want to get a Ph.D. in this stuff. It's just like, let me understand the basics. So I can go, you know, spend a few dollars on your seminar, your course. And now I can walk into a dispensary and know what the hell I'm talking about, not get ripped off, right. That's a big concern for patients and consumers, especially some of our seniors, you know, who were more vulnerable to, you know, quick sales people and bud tenders who were like, 'Yeah, this will get you a hell of stone dude.' What else about it? Does it have terpenes? in it? "Yeah, man, it's got lots of terpenes." Not the answer we really want. Right? Right. And unfortunately, you and I know that a lot of those bud tenders barely know what terpenes are, and cannot have, you know, an intelligent dialogue about that. And that's really, you know, at the end of the day, we want to make sure that our industry professionals, our government regulators, and everybody helping the machine of cannabis legalization move forward, that they are able to engage in articulate dialogue. And to move the ball forward, not back. Right, we've made a lot of progress in the last few years. Now, you know, we got the legalization part of it, and we continue to get more. But sometimes we drop the ball on the regulatory side. And personally, I think that is often because the folks making these rules are ignorant. They're often Yale graduates with masters or Ph.D.s or whatever, but when it comes to the biochemistry of cannabis, and hemp, and how like you and I know it is true medicine for people in need. If they don't understand that mechanism, I think the policies and oversight emerging are going to be deficient.

Kannaboom 18:17

Well, and I think you made a really great point there with the words articulate dialogue, we all have to be on the same page on all sides of this. I mean, people come to this plant for various reasons. Maybe it's pain or insomnia or something else, but we need to have the terms defined that we agree upon in like, Higher Learning LV is going to allow people to be on the same page.

Curt Robbins 18:40

Yeah, that common vocabulary is super, super important, you know, because if somebody says, 'okay, you know, give me your 30-second elevator speech,' I'll say "Okay, here it is, folks, we got this plant. And oh, and maybe we spend we typically have to define the legal difference between hemp and cannabis.' That's a big confusion point for folks. Right? But then we say 'Okay, but you know, hemp slash cannabis, produces in the big picture three different families of molecules cannabinoids, like CBD and THC.' Oh, we've all heard of those. Yeah, true. And then we've got terpenes. And there's a lot more terpenes and cannabinoids and the interesting thing about terpenes as they're made by plants other than hemp and cannabis, cannabinoids, as their name implies, are only from hemp and cannabis and nothing else. Flavonoids, flavonoids are kind of like terpenes and kind of like cannabinoids, and that there are a few of them called can flavonoids that are exclusive to hemp and cannabis. But there's a whole bunch of them that are not. There's 6,000 flavonoids in nature. There's more than 40,000 terpenes How come we saw one research study that guy was claiming there were like 72,000 terpenes in nature. There's a whole lot of terpenes, right 6,000 that's a lot of flavonoids. You know cannabinoids, we got to get in the neighborhood of 150 cannabinoids identified coming from hemp and cannabis. Okay, so we take those three sets of phyto molecules cannabinoids, terpenes, and flavonoids. And then we put them into the body of a human or a dog or a cat or, or a horse, a mammal, all mammals have an endocannabinoid system. And even some non-vertebrates have primitive ECS and can interact with some of these molecules, typically in a beneficial way. So it's really kind of a, again, it's deep science, right? But once we understand that overview, it's understanding how those molecules interact with the human body. And this, like you say, people are different, this person has cancer, this person is relatively healthy, but they suffer insomnia, this person has Alzheimers, how do these molecules help them? Then the research tells us a lot about that.

Kannaboom 20:51

Yeah, well, it's a big job, you know, simplifying a very complex picture and allowing people to zoom in or zoom out. But you've got the training and experience in instructional design. And I know, it's gonna be a great experience for anybody who, who heads over to Higher Learning LV, which we will have a link to in the show notes, and I'm really happy to help you get the word out about it.

Curt Robbins 21:13

Yeah, thanks, Tom. I certainly appreciate it. Because, you know, if anything, studies like the Oasis Intelligence consumer survey, and many others that come down the road, are going to shine a spotlight on the ignorance that's in our industry. You know, we want to be proud of our industry, and we want to move it forward in a way that's both professional and beneficial for all players. And so from my perspective, that just means education.

Kannaboom 21:38

Well, you're doing a great job. Thank you for sharing it here on Twenty 4:20. And, you know, we're gonna dive back in in Episode 11, very soon.

Curt Robbins 21:47

Thanks Tom. Appreciate it.

Kannaboom 21:47

You've been listening to Twenty 4:20, a special edition podcast series from Kannaboom and Kurt Robbins. Want to learn more and help grow that cannabis movement? Spread the word and follow us on your favorite podcast platform or at Kannaboom dot com.