While many were celebrating Cinco De Mayo this year, the University of California at Irvine partnered with Kurvana to open its doors to over two hundred business owners, politicians, and curious students interested in the future of cannabis. The panel was unique in its interdisciplinary nature, convening a variety of industry experts to discuss the state of cannabis in the medical, political, and legal fields. The panel included Lori Ajax, chief of the Bureau of Medical Cannabis Regulation, Congressman Dana Rohrabacher, and Dr. Daniele Piomelli, a leading UCI researcher in cannabis. Guest speakers included retired Senator Joe Dunn and Dr. Daniel Menard.

The event began with perhaps the most anticipated guest, Congressman Dana Rohrabacher. A traditionally conservative representative for Orange County, Rohrabacher has taken a leadership role on the legalization of cannabis for decades, and was instrumental in the creation of the Congressional Cannabis Caucus. Rohrabacher has made clear that the prohibition of cannabis “has violated every basic human right.” For many, Rohrabacher’s powerful stance embodies a bipartisan future for cannabis policy.

Next to speak was Lori Ajax, the woman responsible for writing California’s official cannabis regulations. Ajax shared her process leading up to the current draft of the regulations available to the public. She urged everyone to give feedback during this stage, since the draft of proposed regulations are expected to change as the committee considers outside suggestions. Ajax welcomed the audience’s attendance in the upcoming regulation hearings, which will be in a different format than the usual humdrum city hearings imposed on the general public. This time, the regulators must sit and listen; aside from a brief intro, the audience will have the floor to give comments while a court reporter documents the discussion. Ajax also referred event attendees to the online portal for all three licensing authorities and their related resources, such as the regulations draft and an economic impact report on the industry.

Dr. Piomelli then focused the group back to the science behind the source of discussion. He described the findings of his research thus far on cannabis, from its remarkable ability to combat spasticity in medical patients, to points of concern like its potentially addictive nature for those already vulnerable to addiction. Piomelli also shared his experiences and interactions with parents of children with epilepsy and other life-altering diseases, who came to Piomelli as a last resort after mainstream medicine failed them.

Perhaps the highlight of the event, and what continued to linger on everyone’s mind long after, was Senator Joe Dunn’s announcement of the launch of a cannabis research institute at UCI. Originally a quick mention at the event, Dunn presented the project as an interdisciplinary institute studying cannabis from an unbiased perspective; it will employ knowledge and resources from a wide range of fields including film, politics, engineering, science, medicine, law, etc. According to Dunn, ever since the announcement Friday, May 5th, he and Dr. Piomelli have “been fielding national calls requesting involvement in the institute.”

The evening concluded with an off-site celebration sponsored by Kurvana and hosted by Bud and Bloom, a respected medical dispensary in Orange County. With chill tunes and a laid back vibe, the after party presented everyone with the opportunity to discuss the day’s topics and announcements with fellow panel attendees. For those unfamiliar with the retail aspect of cannabis, Bud and Bloom offered controlled tours of the dispensary. Guests were also treated to massages by Apothecanna and Kurvana tote-bags filled with goodies.

The success of the UCI event presents a new and exciting image of cannabis. Kurvana has already established itself as a pioneering manufacturer in the industry. Kurvana’s substantial contribution to cannabis research makes it clear they are dedicated to research-driven product development. As a spokesman for Kurvana said: “We are grateful to be included in such an influential panel of experts and leaders whose work will undoubtedly be a transforming force behind cannabis, for years to come.”

Images by Skalij Photography