Transcript: Curating Cannabis | Apr 03, 2019

Steve sits in the studio. He's slim, clean-shaven, in his fifties, with short curly brown hair. He's wearing a gray suit, white shirt, and purple tie.

A caption on screen reads "Curating cannabis."

Steve says IT'S BEEN LEGAL SINCE
LATE 2018, BUT AFTER ALL THESE
DECADES AS A BANNED SUBSTANCE,
CANNABIS REMAINS SOMETHING OF A
MYSTERY FOR MANY.
TAMARA LILIEN IS A CANNABIS
SOMMELIER AND EDUCATOR.
SHE CURRENTLY WORKS WITH THE POT
COMPANY AHLOT, THAT'S SPELT
A-H-L-O-T.
AND SHE JOINS US NOW FOR SOME OF
THE ESSENTIALS ABOUT WEED AS A
RECREATIONAL PRODUCT.

Tamara is in her thirties, with straight brown hair in a bob. She's wearing a floral print blazer over a black shirt, and a pendant necklace.

Steve continues NICE TO HAVE YOU HERE.

Tamara says THANK YOU.
THANK YOU FOR HAVING ME.

Steve says WE SHOULD SAY THAT
AHLOT, YOUR COMPANY NAME, STANDS
FOR?

Tamara says A HIGHER LEVEL OF THOUGHT.

Steve says WHICH HIGHER, HAH,
HAH, IT'S A LITTLE PUN THERE.

Tamara says EXACTLY.

Steve says TAMARA, I KNOW THAT
SOMMELIERS DEAL WITH WINE.
I HAD NO IDEA THAT THERE WAS A
CANNABIS SOMMELIER.
WHAT DO YOU DO?

The caption changes to "Tamara Lilien. Ahlot."
Then, it changes again to "A pot pro."

Tamara says SO WE HAVE KIND OF BORROWED
THE NAME FROM THE WINE INDUSTRY,
AND ESSENTIALLY A SOMMELIER... A
CANNABIS SOMMELIER INVOLVED...

Steve says VERY MUCH LIKE WINE.

Tamara says EXACTLY.
SO WE USE A NUMBER OF QUALITY
INDICATORS OR MEASUREMENTS TO
DETERMINE A RATING FOR CANNABIS,
AND COMPARABLY IN THE AHLOT
ROLE, WE ACTUALLY HAVE A
STANDARDIZED ASSESSMENT FORM
THAT WE'RE GOING TO BE USING TO
ASSESS VARIOUS STRAINS OF
CANNABIS TO DETERMINE WHICH
STRAINS WE RECOMMEND FOR
INCLUSION IN THE VARIETY PACKS
THAT ARE GOING TO BE AVAILABLE
THROUGH THE OCS.

Steve says HOW DOES SOMEBODY GET
INTO THIS LINE OF WORK?

Tamara says WELL, I HAVE HAD A PERSONAL
PASSION FOR CANNABIS FOR A
NUMBER OF YEARS.
MY BACKGROUND'S IN PALLIATIVE
CARE, AND AFTER IDENTIFYING SOME
OF THE MAJOR GAPS THAT EXIST IN
THE HEALTH CARE SYSTEM, I
DECIDED TO TRANSITION TO THIS
LINE OF WORK.
I'VE DONE A LOT OF RESEARCH AND
STUDYING, READING A NUMBER OF
ACADEMIC JOURNAL ARTICLES, AND
YOU KNOW, SIMILAR TO A NUMBER OF
ROLES THAT ARE KIND OF ON THE
CUTTING EDGE, I FEEL THAT IT'S
VERY, VERY IMPORTANT TO ALWAYS
BE STAYING IN THE LOOP ON THE
MOST UPDATED RESEARCH.

Steve says SO YOU NOW ALL THE...

Tamara says EXACTLY.

Steve says YOU KNOW THIS STUFF.

Tamara says AND EVERY DAY WE'RE LEARNING
ABOUT MORE AND MORE NEW
INFORMATION THAT'S COMING OUT.

Steve says WELL, GIVEN NOW NEW
MUCH OF WHICH IS FOR SO MANY
PEOPLE, I IMAGINE YOU RUN INTO A
LOT OF MYTHS ABOUT CERTAIN
THINGS.

Tamara says CERTAINLY.

Steve says LIKE WHAT, FOR
EXAMPLE?

The caption changes to "Tamara Lilien, @thinkahlot."

Tamara says I THINK ONE OF THE MOST
PREVALENT MYTHS THAT EXISTS IS
THE NOTION THAT CANNABIS IS A
GATEWAY DRUG.
SO UNLIKE ALCOHOL, CANNABIS DOES
NOT PROMOTE DISINHIBITION OR
IRRATIONAL DECISION MAKING.
HOWEVER, WITH ALCOHOL, THOSE ARE
ELEMENTS THAT WE SEE, AND THAT'S
ACTUALLY MORE CONDUCIVE TO RISKY
DECISIONS.
WHEREAS WITH CANNABIS, IN FACT,
I DON'T REALLY KNOW ANYONE THAT
USES OTHER DRUGS OR OTHER
SUBSTANCES BESIDES CANNABIS.

The caption changes to "Connect with us: Twitter: @theagenda; Facebook, agendaconnect@tvo.org, Instagram."

Steve says SO THE PEOPLE WHO SAY
YOU START WITH CANNABIS TODAY,
YOU'RE GOING TO BE ON TO COCAINE
TOMORROW AND HEROIN AFTER THAT, WHAT?

Tamara says I WOULD SAY THAT'S ABSOLUTELY
NOT CONNECT.
IT'S A FALLACY, AND THERE'S A
LOT OF DATA TO SUPPORT THAT.

Steve says OKAY.
AGAIN, AS WE SUGGESTED, THERE
ARE GOING TO BE A LOT OF PEOPLE
WATCHING THIS RIGHT NOW WHO HAVE
NEVER TRIED MARIJUANA BECAUSE
IT'S TECHNICALLY BEEN ILLEGAL.

Tamara says CERTAINLY.

Steve says BUT THEY MAY GIVE IT A
SHOT NOW THAT IT IS LEGAL.
WHAT DO THEY NEED TO KNOW ABOUT IT?

Tamara says SO I WOULD SAY THE MOST
IMPORTANT THING IS REALLY TO
INFORM YOURSELF AND TO EXPLORE
WHAT OUTCOMES YOU'RE LOOKING
FOR.
SO THE FIRST QUESTION IS: WHY DO
YOU WANT TO USE CANNABIS?
ARE YOU USING IT RECREATIONALLY
OR ARE YOU USING IT MEDICALLY?
SO ONCE YOU'VE ESTABLISHED WHAT
OUTCOMES YOU'RE LOOKING FOR, THE
NEXT QUESTION IS REALLY ABOUT
WHAT STRAINS ARE GOING TO BE
CONDUCIVE TO REACHING THE
OUTCOMES THAT YOU'RE LOOKING
FOR.

Steve says WHAT DO YOU MEAN BY
STRAINS?

Tamara says SO WHEN I TALK ABOUT STRAINS,
I MEAN DIFFERENT TYPES OF
CANNABIS, AND SO THEY ARE A
PRODUCT OF DIFFERENT GROWTH
PATTERN.
AND EACH DIFFERENT STRAIN HAS
DIFFERENT EFFECTS.
SO THERE'S DIFFERENT LEVELS OF
THC.
SO TETRAHYDROCANNABINOL.
THERE'S TCB AMONGST MANY OTHER
CANNABINOIDS THAT CREATE A FULL
WHAT'S CALLED ENTOURAGE EFFECT.

Steve says ENTOURAGE EFFECT.

Tamara says SO WHEN WE TALK ABOUT
ENTOURAGE EFFECT, WE'RE TALKING
ABOUT THE INTERMINGLING BETWEEN
ALL THE CANNABINOIDS, FLAVONOIDS
AND TERPENOIDS THAT GIVE
CANNABIS ITS UNIQUE FLAVOUR
AND TASTE.

Steve says CAN I TRY THIS IN
ENGLISH FOR A SECOND?

Tamara says PLEASE.

Steve says THIS IS TO SAY IF I
WANT A MAJOR, FOR LACK OF A
BETTER WORD, IF I WANT A MAJOR
LEAGUE BUZZ I WOULD DO THIS?
IF I WANT SOMETHING A LITTLE
MORE MELLOW I WOULD DO THIS?
IF I WANT SOMETHING IN MY
BROWNIES, IS THIS THE KIND OF
THING YOU'RE TALKING ABOUT HERE?

Tamara says SO ESSENTIALLY AS A CURATOR
FOR AHLOT, WHAT WE'RE GOING TO
BE DOING IS WE'RE GOING TO BE
IDENTIFYING STRAINS TO MEET
VARIOUS NEEDS AND MEET VARIOUS
USER GROUPS.
SO FOR EXAMPLE, IF YOU'RE A NEW
USER WITH NO EXPERIENCE, WE
WOULD WANT TO GEAR YOU TOWARDS
MAYBE THE NEWBIE PACK.
SO THAT'S LIKELY GOING TO HAVE A
NUMBER OF DIFFERENT CANNABIS
STRAINS WITH LOWER DOSES... OR
LOWER PERCENTAGES OF THC SUCH
THAT YOU CAN BEGIN TO GET YOUR
FEET WET WITHOUT NECESSARILY
GETTING MORE INTOXICATED THAN
YOU ARE INTERESTED IN.
ALONG THOSE SAME LINES AS AHLOT
CANNABIS CURATORS, WE'RE ALSO
GOING TO BE IDENTIFYING OTHER
STRAINS TO MEET VARIOUS OTHER
USER GROUPS.

Steve says OKAY.
FOR WHAT IT'S WORTH, I'M GOING
TO READ SOMETHING HERE FROM
SCIENTIFIC AMERICA A COUPLE OF
YEARS AGO AND THEN I'LL GET YOU
TO COMMENT ON WHAT THEY HAVE TO
SAY. SHELDON, IF YOU WOULD...

A quote appears on screen, under the title "The science behind strains." The quote reads "The idea that botanical marijuana creates a synergistic chemical effect, fingerprinting the experience with 'uplifting' or 'relaxing' or 'munchy' notes, is highly contentious.
Double-blind clinical trials, the gold standard for research studies in medicine, have never been conducted to investigate the effects of marijuana's terpenes or its cannabinoids other than THC."
Quoted from Angus Chen, Scientific American. April 20, 2017.

Steve says SO WHAT ARE TERPENES?

Tamara says WHEN WE TALK ABOUT TERPENES,
WE ARE TALKING ABOUT ORGANIC
COMPOUNDS THAT ARE NATURALLY
OCCURRING IN CANNABIS, AND THEY
ARE PRODUCED AS A RESULT OF A
NATURAL ADAPTIVE MECHANISM.
SO BOTH TO LURE POLLINATORS AND
TO REPEL PREDATORS.

The caption changes to "Different strains, same effects?"

Steve says OKAY.
THE GIST OF THIS EXCERPT
SUGGESTS THAT... WELL, IT TAKES
ISSUE WITH WHAT YOU JUST SAID,
THAT THERE'S NO CONCLUSIVE
EVIDENCE THAT A WILL LEAD TO B
OR C WILL LEAD TO D.

Tamara says CERTAINLY.
SO ON THE ONE HAND IT'S TRUE
THAT WE DO NEED MORE DOUBLE
BLIND CLINICAL TRIALS SO THAT WE
CAN PRESENT EVIDENCE-BASED
INFORMATION.
ON THE FLIP SIDE, PEOPLE ARE
USING CANNABIS RIGHT NOW, SO WE
OWE IT TO OURSELVES TO LEARN AS
MUCH AS WE CAN ABOUT THE CURRENT
CLIMATE.
AND INTERESTINGLY, TERPENES HAVE
PREDICTIVE EFFECT.
SO FOR EXAMPLE, MYRCENE, WHICH
IS A TERPENE COMMONLY FOUND IN
MANGO HAS SEDATIVE EFFECTS.
SO THE MORE WE UNDERSTAND THE
NATURE OF THE EFFECTS THAT ARE
ASSOCIATED WITH THE DIFFERENT
TERPENE, THE MORE WE CAN HONE IN
TO DETERMINE WHAT CANNABIS
STRAINS ARE GOING TO BE BEST TO
MEET THE OUTCOMES THAT WE'RE
LOOKING FOR.

Steve says I WOULD PRESUME ALL OF
THOSE LONG COMPLICATED WORDS
THAT YOU USED EARLIER, THEY ALL
HAVE A DIFFERENT IMPACT ON
DIFFERENT PEOPLE.
IS THAT FAIR TO SAY?

Tamara says THAT'S ENTIRELY CORRECT.
CANNABIS USE IS HIGHLY
INDIVIDUALIZED.

Steve says SO HOW DO YOU MAKE A
RECOMMENDATION, THEN, FOR...
PRESUMABLY YOU'RE GOING TO MAKE
A DIFFERENT RECOMMENDATION FOR
EVERY SINGLE PERSON?

The caption changes to "Selecting a strain."

Tamara says SO THE IDEA IS TO USE MY
KNOWLEDGE SKILLS AND EXPERIENCE
AND MY BACKGROUND AS A CANNABIS
SOMMELIER TO BEGIN TO IDENTIFY
STRAINS THAT WOULD BEST SUIT
PEOPLE, KIND OF THE MASSES.
SO THE IDEA IS THAT IF WE KEEP A
JOURNAL TO UNDERSTAND WHICH
STRAINS AFFECT US IN DIFFERENT
WAYS, WE CAN REALLY IDENTIFY
WHICH STRAINS ARE GOING TO BE
BEST FOR US INDIVIDUALLY.
BUT NO MATTER WHAT ANYONE TELLS
YOU, IT'S A HIGHLY
INDIVIDUALIZED EXPERIENCE AND NO
TWO PEOPLE WILL HAVE THE SAME
EFFECTS OF USING ONE STRAIN.

The caption changes to "Watch us anytime: tvo.org, Twitter: @theagenda, Facebook Live."

Steve says IN WHICH CASE, LET'S
FINISH UP ON THIS, AND AGAIN,
FOR THE ROOKIES OUT THERE WHO
MAY BE INQUIRING FOR THE FIRST
TIME, THERE ARE PRECIOUS FEW
BRICKS AND MORTAR STORES RIGHT
NOW IN ONTARIO.
IT JUST HASN'T GOT THAT THAT
LEVEL YET.
IF PEOPLE ARE GOING TO INDULGE,
THEY ARE... MOST OF THEM WILL DO
IT ON-LINE.
WHAT SHOULD THEY BE LOOKING FOR?

Tamara says SO WHAT THEY SHOULD BE
LOOKING FOR IS, OF COURSE, THE
AHLOT DISCOVERY SERIES.
SO THAT WILL GIVE THEM AN
OPPORTUNITY TO TEST A VARIETY OF
STRAINS.
SOME OTHER THINGS, SO
ESSENTIALLY IT'S A REALLY
COMPLICATED ENVIRONMENT THAT WE
FIND OURSELVES IN.
THERE'S A NUMBER OF DIFFERENT
STRAINS AND BRANDS, AND IF YOU
DON'T HAVE A LOT OF EXPERIENCE,
IT'S REALLY A CHALLENGING
ENVIRONMENT TO NAVIGATE.
AND THAT'S PART OF THE REASON
THAT THE CURATION COMMITTEE HAS
BEEN COMPILED, IS SO THAT WE CAN
FACILITATE PATIENT NAVIGATION OR
A PERSON NAVIGATION ACROSS THE SECTOR.

The caption changes to "Producer: Katie O'Connor, @KA_OConnor."

Steve says GOTCHA.
THAT'S TAMARA LILIEN.
SHE IS A CANNABIS SOMMELIER AND
EDUCATOR AND A CANNABIS CURATOR
WITH AHLOT. THANKS FOR COMING
INTO TVO TONIGHT.

The caption changes to "Subscribe to The Agenda Podcast: tvo.org/theagenda."

Tamara says THANKS SO MUCH FOR HAVING ME.

Watch: Curating Cannabis