High Country: New documentary ‘CBD Nation’ might change your mind about medical cannabis
Director David Jakubovic dives into the science and research behind the world’s most politicized plant.
Only in recent years has CBD made its way into mainstream vernacular and consequently, cannabidiol’s story has never fully been told on-screen. The new documentary, “CBD Nation,” is the first wide- release film dedicated to the cannabis plant compound’s deep roots.
Featuring leading experts in cannabis, including Raphael Mechoulam—the Israeli scientist who discovered THC, the endocannabinoid system and the therapeutic efficacy of CBD to treat medical conditions— the 83-minute film exposes 60 years of often ignored published reports and ongoing research.
The project turned its director, producer and editor David Jakubovic from a CBD cynic to a CBD champion. Creative director at Mad Machine Films, Jakubovic got his start at the age of 18, during mandatory military service in the Israeli Air Force, when he was assigned to make training films. Jakubovic’s recent credits include a World War II special for National Geographic and History Channel’s “Washington.”
“When I was asked if I wanted to make a documentary about the science of medical cannabis, my initial reaction was, ‘No.’ I didn’t know anything about it and my instinct was that CBD was an overblown fad,” admits Jakubovic. “Worse, I didn’t feel like spending a year living in a world surrounded by cannabis users. I had tried cannabis at 22, and the experience was just so intense that I stayed away from the plant for another 13 years.”
He changed his mind after watching a TED Talk from Dr. Dedi Meiri, a biologist who runs the world’s leading cannabis lab at Technion University in Israel. Based in New York City, Jakubovic started shooting “CBD Nation” two years ago, first traveling back to his homeland.
With interviews also spanning the U.S. and Canada, more than 30 physicians, clinicians, scientists and patients explain how the human body has evolved to work with cannabis, providing not only healing, but also hope for the world’s most politicized plant to be accepted for what it is: medicine.
Among the many powerful personal stories “CBD Nation” tells is Rylie Maedler’s. At age seven, she was diagnosed with a rare degenerative disease, which in her case, caused tumors to eat away at her facial bones. Today, the 14-year-old remains the only known person in the world with the condition whose bones have regenerated.
“I hope that doctors, educators and politicians see this film,” says Maedler, who worked closely with legislators in her home state of Delaware to pass Rylie’s Law, granting children with qualifying conditions access to medical cannabis. “Because I’m living proof of the fact that cannabis and CBD have a place in modern medicine.”
Here are 10 more takeaways revealed in “CBD Nation,” which is now streaming on Amazon, iTunes and other VOD platforms.
DAVID JAKUBOVIC, PRODUCER & DIRECTOR, CBD NATION:
“Over the course of this project, I came to realize that cannabis is far from a gateway drug; for many, it’s actually an exit drug from pharmaceuticals and narcotics. And in the U.S., which accounts for 5% of the world’s population; it consumes 75% of the world’s pharmaceuticals. We can no longer afford to be in the dark about the facts. Facts can save lives.”
DR. REGGIE GAUDINO, VP OF R&D, FRONT RANGE BIOSCIENCES (FORMERLY CHIEF SCIENCE OFFICER, STEEP HILL):
“Almost all organisms that come out of the water have an endocannabinoid system, and they’re related. If there’s a receptor for [cannabis], there must be something inside humans that triggers the receptor. The endocannabinoid system’s job is to maintain the balance of all the other systems, right? So you have a bunch of other systems that do their thing, and the endocannabinoid system sits on top of all of them and makes sure that they don’t go out of control. I think we are going to see an increasing number of people who start to take responsibility for their own health and become present in their own well-being.”
PH.D., PRESIDENT OF THE MULTIDISCIPLINARY CENTER FOR CANNABINOID RESEARCH, THE HEBREW UNIVERSITY OF JERUSALEM:
“We published our findings 37 years ago: cannabidiol blocks epileptic attacks in patients. What happened? Nothing for 30 years. Nothing happened until desperate parents like those in this film did their own research and found out that cannabidiol can help children with epilepsy. But epilepsy is just one of many conditions that we know cannabis medicine can treat. If the world chooses to not look at all of the science, it is not ignorance—it’s negligence.”
DR. JUNE CHIN, OSTEOPATHIC PHYSICIAN:
“There is a galaxy of these cannabinoid receptors throughout our entire body. The endocannabinoid system parallels the immune system, so there really is no physiological process in our body that’s not affected by [it] to some degree. What cannabis serves as is a very natural and potent anti- inflammatory and a pain reliever. Healthcare practitioners really need to educate themselves on the endocannabinoid system and on medical cannabis very quickly.”
“In 1976, the National Institute on Drug Abuse published a 250-page report, which discussed the medical uses of cannabis. It stated that the potential benefits of cannabis should be studied. It discussed its therapeutic effects as an anticonvulsant, an antidepressant and an antibacterial. The report referred to cannabis as reducing nausea and vomiting in cancer patients, treating glaucoma, asthma and pain. It stated that significant pain reduction was seen in cancer patients, and it even discussed cannabis as helping reduce tumor sizes.”
MARTIN A LEE, DIRECTOR, PROJECT CBD & AUTHOR, ‘SMOKE SIGNALS’:
“There’s also the Shafer Commission. Same conclusion. They’re always coming out with these federal reports. It’s crazy, it’s like what does it mean? People are coming forward, saying it helps my multiple sclerosis, helps my depression, helps my kidney disease, liver disease, cancer, neurological, autoimmune disorders, diabetes. So many things people were reporting. If you have a government, why don’t you pay attention to what it figures out? You know, it makes no sense. But the whole marijuana policy has not made any sense. It was always built on lies. And we still suffer from that as a culture, as a society, as a world.”
“The Shafer Commission was appointed by President Nixon, and its report stated that ‘a careful search of the literature and testimony of the nation’s health officials has not revealed a single human fatality in the United States proven to have resulted solely from the ingestion of marijuana’ and that ‘most users, young and old, demonstrate an average or above-average degree of social functioning, academic achievement, and job performance.’”
LEONARD LEINOW, CANNABIS GROWER & BREEDER:
“I’m one of the first people that started growing CBD-rich cannabis that I know of. I’m actually a pioneer in that movement because I’m one of the people that said, ‘Hey, CBD is really important.’ In the seventies, eighties and nineties most of the industry and the breeders had been dominated by people who like to get high. So, the direction that the breeders went was who can make the highest THC plant that’s gonna knock your brains out. So, the growers, they bred out the CBD.”
STEVE DEANGELO, CO-FOUNDER, HARBORSIDE & STEEP HILL:
“We didn’t start Harborside with the idea of creating a business or making money, that wasn’t our main objective. We had a greater mission: to tell the world the truth about cannabis. I called every single commercial testing laboratory in the Bay Area and asked them to test our cannabis. Because if I was going to call it medicine, if I was going to provide it to people who have compromised immune systems, I needed to know exactly what was in it, I needed to know that it was safe. Everyone refused to test our medicine out of fear of federal prosecution. So we started Steep Hill. There was low CBD content in the supply, really of California’s entire cannabis market. It seemed like a crisis to us. We started to [question] how do we get more of this compound into the plant? We went back to the growers who had supplied us and encouraged them to grow more of it.”
DR. SUE SISLEY, INTERNAL MEDICINE SPECIALIST & MEDICAL CANNABIS ACTIVIST:
“I had this huge faction of patients in my practice who were claiming they were getting benefit from this plant, and I was very skeptical. I was basically dismissive of these claims because I thought they were just drug-seeking stoners, that’s what I’d been taught in medical school. And then I began losing a lot of veterans in my practice to suicide and that was when I had this real epiphany that all these lousy pharmaceuticals are not helping them. There’s tons of meds that I prescribe to patients that make them high, right? Pain pills, benzodiazepines like Xanax—all of them have the potential to cause euphoria—and we don’t condemn those pills, but yet when it comes to this natural God-given plant we vilify it, we treat it like it’s so dangerous, like it’s plutonium, when in fact it’s far safer than most of the prescriptions I write for people every day. I started to finally examine the scientific literature, and I regretted how judgmental I was over these past many years because I probably could have saved more lives.”
Katie Shapiro can be reached at email@example.com and followed on Twitter @bykatieshapiro.
Mountain Mayhem: Tennis anyone?
Birthday girl Jodi Jacobsen hit the Smuggler Racquet Club tennis courts to ring in the start to her next decade with a party for friends and family on Sunday, May 21. Jodi’s mom, Ruth Jacobson, and sister, Jamie Cygeilman, came to town to help her celebrate and honor her dad who slipped away 30 years prior, and would have loved the tradition.