E36 - Hempfest the 4th Potpourri

We are looking back on the Summer of 2019.  One of Kirk and Trevor's highlites was going to HempFest in Saskatoon.  We talked to Jodi McDonald of Keystone Labs.  Jodi's company will sell you a "Key Box" to allow you to get lab quality analysis of your home grown cannabis.  And Jodi is infectiously  animated when she explain HPLC and mass spec.  Robert Belanger is a potter whose ceramic pipes are stronger than glass.  Robert gets the unusual complaint that his smoking accessories are too beautiful to use.  Lane Britnell goes deep on growing media.  Lane explains why "Dirt is dead.  Soil is alive."


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Episode Transcript

Kirk:  Hey Trevor, the pharmacist.

Trevor:  and Kirk Nyquist, the nurse.

Kirk:  Yes.

Trevor:  And Kirk, it's October. You're not really here. Where are you?

Kirk:  I will be in Ethiopia.

Trevor:  That's a little farther away than northern Manitoba. What are you doing there?

Kirk:  I have a wonderful opportunity to work with an organization, the Canadian Physicians Aid and Relief. I'll be in a small community, I think of a million people. North of Addis. And I'll be working on a project in a hospital working with nurses and systems and emergency systems in a small facility and helping them.

Trevor:  Kirk. good on you. So, this episode, we're sort of looking back on summer, the summer that was. Came and went what kind of interesting things did you get up to this summer?

Kirk:  You know, it was an amazing summer. I took some time off the north and did a lot, went to a few festivals, went to the Dauphin Country Fest and saw some good bands there and talked to people about Cannabis there.  Interesting people I talked to about cannabis at the Countryfest. They sort of said this isn't a weed festival, man; people don't do weed here. They drink. And it was funny, Trevor.

Trevor:  How was that funny Kirk?

Kirk:  Well, it was funny, Trever, because I went there purposely to just make observations. You know, we've been doing Countryfest. I've been doing Countryfest as a volunteer for more than a decade. So I haven't gone as a participant very often.

Trevor:  I've gone to a participant many times and obviously, yes, people drink there a lot. But even just for the casual observer, cannabis has always been there.

Kirk:  Oh, sure, sure. It's always been there. But it's not it's not explicit. It's not outright. I thought it was interesting because this is the first year of legalization. So, I wanted to see if there's if people would be out there and be more blatant with their use, you know, or obvious with their use. You didn't see it. I mean, when you saw people, they were very they would go off to small groups or there'd be some place and you'd see obviously they're passing something. But it was very.

Trevor:  Discreet.

Kirk:  Discreet and which is which is fine. But when we look at our cultures and I'm always ranting about this, our culture is so comfortable with alcohol that people are walking around the entire grounds with a beer, a wine, a cooler. They're handing out alcohol paraphernalia everywhere to the point that I saw an eight-year-old kid wearing a fanny pack that was advertising alcohol on it. And I sat down and said to myself, isn't that interesting? Now, you can't put a cannabis leaf on that. You can't advertise your cannabis business to children. But yet we're allowed to give 10-year-olds something for alcohol. And I made those observations afterwards just in society in general, walking around and how alcohol is everywhere. But somehow cannabis is still hidden. It's still being repressed with the laws that we have compared to alcohol. And I guess I'm on my little bit rant here, but you and I have learned so much about cannabis in the last little while that somehow I don't think they truly have learned from tobacco and alcohol because the laws they're applying to cannabis, I don't know. It doesn't seem to work for me. Like, why is it such a dichotomy in how people perceive alcohol and cannabis?

Trevor:  I don't know. I'm going to go with just the simple. It's still new.

Kirk:  It's still new.

Trevor:  They're still trying to figure out what to do and where to do. And, you know, back in the day twenty years ago, you didn't have a sampling of alcohol at liquor stores and now it's common. So I'm going with it's still in process. So, Kirk professionally, we actually went and did some podcasting on stage in this summer back in June.

Kirk:  Was that when it was.  So long ago?

Trevor:  And they. Hempfest. So we were at Hempfest, Saskatoon. So they Hempfest are coming up again, this time in Calgary. They're going to be in Calgary on October 11th, which is a Friday and October 12th, which is a Saturday. So, a shout out to them and one of our co-conspirators, Michael Peterson, with the Canadian Cannabis Update. He's going to be podcasting live from the Calgary show.

Kirk:  Right. He's going to have a booth there.

Trevor:  So, and so we thought in lieu of that, we'll play some of the lost episodes from when we were in Saskatoon to help people get ready for the Calgary show and the really cool thing. So, this upcoming one, they're going to have a Hempfest Cup. So, they'll be giving out prizes for, you know, the best strain in eight different categories. And anyone who can legally grow in Canada is eligible. And the people doing the testing is Keystone Labs, which is one of the people we have a little interview of.

Kirk:  They're part of this episode.

Trevor:  Yeah, yeah. Cool. That's that's that's convenient. And we also have Robert Belanger partner, who is making some really cool little pipes.

Kirk:  I bought one of his chillums, They are very nice.

Trevor:  And Lane Britnell from Fextern soil. If you remember, he was one of the people who shared the stage with us. He was just before us and he was going about how people who are provinces, whether it is legal, how they could grow their stuff at home.

Kirk:  That was a fun time. Thank you very much for inviting us, Hempfest. We really enjoyed ourselves in Saskatoon.

Trevor:  And I hope everybody else enjoys this blast back in the summer 2019.

Trevor:  And it's Trevor Shewfelt with Reefer Medness and I have Jody McDonald here. Jodi, tell us a little bit what you do and what's going on in your booth.

Jodi:  What a great question. Where Keystone Labs, where a Health Canada accredited test lab. We're located in Edmonton, Alberta, and we do testing for license holders, but we also help people who are growing at home or doing extractions at home understand how potent or how effective their products are. So, we do testing for potency, Terpenes testing. And then we do all the contamination testing that Health Canada requires for license holders. So, moisture, pesticides, heavy metals, microbial contamination.

Trevor:  So eventually I'm going to get you to do the same little dance you did for us up there on the stage. Jodi was on stage and you gave a fantastic talk. But before we do that, here at your booth is something called a Keybox. So if I'm growing things at home, what's the Keybox going to do for me?

Jodi:  The Keybox is a home test, like a home product preparation kit. So, you take a few simple steps. It's a basic chemical extraction. All of the final product comes back to us in the lab and then we test it in our lab on a liquid chromatography instrument and we look at potency and then we test also on a HEADSPACES analyzer and look at terpene.

Trevor:  OK, so now no one can see Jodi's little dance, but she was explaining to us what happens in liquid chromatography and a little bit of mass spec. So, you don't have to do that. They can't see the dance. But give us a little bit of a if I've never because honestly, I've only read about them if I've never seen a liquid chromatography or mass spec. Tell us a little bit what they do in your lab and how they work.

Jodi:  So liquid chromatography is a way to look at the chromatography is imaging. So, we're looking at the chemical image of compounds. So in liquid chromatography, we're using solvents, the specific chemistry of the analytes, that we're looking for and time to look at which compounds are there. So that's the liquid chromatography side. And then mass spec is breaking the compounds apart into there like molecular fingerprint. So, water and different groupings of compounds that come off of the whole compound and how it works. How it was described to me because someone told me I didn't understand mass spec. So, they described this to me as it comes from the liquid chromatography instrument and it goes through a nebulizer, which is basically a jet that blows it at a really rapid rate. And each molecule at that point in its life cycle is surrounded by a little jacket of mobile phaser liquids coming off the L.C. and against the compounds being blown through the nebulizer is a stream of nitrogen that heats up the molecule because it's traveling so fast, coming out of the nebulizer and the nitrogen blows that little coating of liquid off of the molecule and it gets really hot and it starts to shrink down on itself because it's getting really hot. And at one point it just is so hot it explodes out and it creates that molecular fingerprint that we're looking for on the mass spec side.

Trevor:  And I know no one could see that, but we got a mini version of the on-stage dance and that was fantastic. So, a couple other things. So you were explaining a little bit about cannabinoids and it seems we're learning a little bit more every day. So tell me a little bit about sort of the mother cannabinoid that goes down the tree to the other ones. And then earlier, we're talking about the fact that there might be both THCa and THC in the plant at the same time. Can you just give us a little bit of a cannabinoid 101?

Jodi:  I'm so excited. I love this. OK, so cannabinoids are genetically programed in each plant, so each plant has a slightly different way of producing the cannabinoids, but it all starts from the same place. There's the same three starting materials and they produce the mother cannabinoid, which is cannabigerolic acid. And from that one cannabinoid, all of the other cannabinoids are created inside the plant and they're created through biosynthetic mechanisms, pathways in the plant. And there's specific enzymes that either cleave or add things to the different structures and create the new different cannabinoids. So THCA to CBDA, CBGA are the big ones that we see normally. And then decarbonization happens either through time, heat or light. And also, there's synthase that will specifically work at a much less efficient way inside the plants. But some of them are program. They already have synthase that will break down the THCA into THC. So, some plants just naturally express a bit of THC. And then equally, that I think is interesting is there's two really neat indicators when we're looking at a cannabinoid profile. One is if there's CBN and often it is naturally occurring, but if it occurs in a high concentration, we typically hear back from the grower who is testing that product, that the THC isn't nearly as high as they expected, and it's because the plant or the material has aged and it's starting to break down from THC to CBN. And then the second thing that I think is really interesting is if you have a plant that's really high and CBGA, you have harvested the plant just a little too early. You have to have a little patience and let it grow a little bit longer and start getting that CBGA. down into the rest of the biosynthetic pathway.

Trevor:  Well, Judy, this has been fantastic. Anything else you think our listeners need to know about testing in general or Keybox in particular?

Jodi:  Well, I love testing, so I think everyone should test. We got a lot of people who dropped by the booth who say they do test themselves at home. And I agree, probably smoking or medicating yourself is the best way to understand what works for you. But what testing can actually give you is data so that you understand on a routine, ongoing basis how to select plants or products that are best suited to you and what effect you're looking for.

Trevor:  Robert, I'm going to get you to introduce yourself.

Bob:  Hi, thank you very much for having me around. Bob Belanger, 60 years old this year, and I was decided to get into this just sort of from being in the corporate world for so long. My job was highly stressful. I was getting to the point where I was getting sick every day. And I just thought this time in my life to do something that I want to do, that I enjoy and I love my artwork. And I have been 420 friendly all my life. And I thought it would be fun to get into making some pieces with my ceramics. There's a lot of glass out there, but I can do some real creative stuff. And the good news is, is people are loving them. So it's a good thing.

Trevor:  So, because I can't show you pictures of these well, we'll post a couple on Instagram, but describe them to me. They look like they're sort of three parts to them. What's do some of your bongs here kind of look like? Describe to our audience.

Bob:  Well, the main vessel, of course, the body I've got a mold or a cast that I use for the basic shape. And then from there, every single one I have to make the stem and the bowl for I have to make the foot for it. So that's why they all look uniquely different. I do different things as I'm making them. Each piece is one of a kind. And in my glazing process, the most fun ones I'm doing are my bubble bongs, which you can see look sort of reptilian. Yeah, bubbles on them. And actually, on my Instagram @passthepipe420 there is a little video on there that shows me actually applying these bubbles to the pieces of the colored glaze, which I use a straw and a little bit of soap with my glaze blow bubbles out of a cup and let it fall onto the piece and I layer different colors. So, I'm having a lot of fun with that. And a lot of companies are actually ordering logoed panpipes that you see that I'm building as well. One misconception is the strength of ceramic is actually stronger than glass. Glass is more fragile. These are incredibly strong pieces.

Trevor:  So, describe this hand pipe to me. It's small. It's like the size of a toonie with kind of a stem off the outside.

Bob:  Yeah, exactly. Well, in this case, it's a full-on pipe, of course, because you've got a bowl. Right. And the way I design these is with a shotgun on the end of them. The purpose of this was keeping in mind what customers were asking for, which the biggest thing was how easy is it to clean.

Trevor:  OK.

Bob:  And so that was a big issue for me when I decided to build these. So, they got just one hole that's going directly through. There's a solid piece. So, they're not hollow other than the hole that you're smoking through. That's why they're so solid. I've dropped these 100 times and I they just don't break usually. And so, this is a regular smoking pipe. The other ones without the ball. These are used as a one hitter, often called a smoking stone. But I put a choke hold on them as well so you can draw air to control how much smoke you're getting. And people just seem to love the designs and I love making them. So, I always tell people that's what these are. They were just made with a lot of love and I hope people enjoy them.

Trevor:  Well, I think they are. And one of the ones that really caught our eye you're talking about before is you've got ones with sort of metal right in the in the glaze. Can you tell me a little bit about how you get some of these things with that look gold?

Bob:  Absolutely. Well, it actually is gold. And so, this is 22 karat white gold that you're seeing here. And this is 22 karat yellow gold that you're seeing here. And that's the final process that I put on. These pieces get fired three times.  First to turn them to stone and add color to them and then to fire them with the over glaze. And then for any detail like the gold, that has to have a separate firing as well.

Trevor:  So, these have been in the oven at least three times.

Bob:  Three times. Yeah, three times they've been in. Yeah. So, every one of these is different. There's no cast, no mold or anything. I just make these, I pinch them together by hand and.

Trevor:  They're really beautiful.

Bob:  Thank you. I appreciate that. Yeah. I've got a lot of positive feedback on them and lots of people love them.

Trevor:  And this is your first time out of Hempfest. How's it going.

Bob:  It's going fantastic. It's not my first time. I was actually here last year and the only product I had was my bowl-in-hand series, which I made 420 of. And I don't know, I might have about fifty or sixty left I guess of those. Um, yeah, but I love Hempfest. I think it's a really good venue and I think more people should come and check everything out, see what they can learn, you know.

Trevor:  No. And so just to kind of wrap it up. So, you were saying that, you know, misconception that Pottery, ceramic is weaker than glass. Anything else you think our listeners should know about their accessories?

Bob:  I think that it's important for people to know that when they're looking at pieces like this, whether it's glass or ceramic, when you've got an artist that's sitting back behind the scenes, we're thinking about what we're making as an art piece. And I think people really, truly view them as I've had people stop by and go, oh, My God, They're beautiful. I don't know if I'd use it. You know, it may be a centerpiece for me, but that's a positive thing for me. I mean, I'm glad if they're using it, they're functional, they work well. But to know that people are recognizing the art, it's the biggest thing for me, I think.

Trevor:  Well, thank you very much, Bob. This was great. And good luck with the rest of your Hempfest.

Bob:  Appreciate interview. Thank you.

Trevor:  Hi Trevor Shewfelt back and we're at Hempfest, I'm with Lane Britnell, Lane, your signs, your booth says "dirt is dead, soil's alive." What do you guys do?

Lane:  So Fextern Cannabis Solutions is a consulting agency who exists to help set up entrepreneurs and investors who would like to set up micro cultivation, nursery and processing facilities. Our big goal is to help craft growers get into the legal space and get high quality craft products into the local stores here in Saskatchewan.

Trevor:  And your sounds like a really knowledgeable, as we heard your talk yesterday, like you gave home growers a lot of ideas on what they should be growing in, because probably most of our listeners aren't craft growers yet. If you just had a home grower, what kind words of advice might you have for someone who's literally never grown a cannabis plant before? What sort of things should they be looking for?

Lane:  The biggest thing I could say is just start. Don't let anyone, including myself, tell you that you need a certain type of equipment, a certain system. Just go for it, find some seeds, plant some bag seeds, whatever you got, learn from your mistakes, learn from your failures and just get going.  Beyond that, I really do believe in using a good quality soil that you can give water only. But there's a million ways to skin a cat. And, you know, my goal of yesterday's conversation was that if even just one person went home and planted a seed, then it would be a success. So, my biggest advice would be just start.

Trevor:  Thank you Lane. And so, anything else you think our listeners should know about Fextern or just growing cannabis in general?

Lane:  So Fextern does also carry living soil so that if, we prefer you make it yourself, but if you don't want you, we're happy to sell it to you. We do premade ready to plant grow bags as well as bulk soil. And we hope you start growing.

Trevor:  Lane, your soil says that dirt is dead, soil is alive. What does living soil mean?

Lane:  So as opposed to soil, this medium such as just a pure coco or using just pure peat base, living soil actually is full of microbiology and there's worms in there and there's living organisms turning around and tunneling. And it really is more of we're recreating a true forest ecosystem or a real soil ecosystem like it is in nature. So, we have, like I said, the live worms. We have mulch that's decomposing. We let the leaves fall. All of that becomes food for the soil. So with the living soil, it's more so about, we feed the soil and the soil feeds the plant as opposed to a hydroponic system, which you could equate to sort of like an IV for a human, where you're just directly mainlining nitrogen to the plant as opposed to relying again to the human example where we've got our gut bacteria that does all the breaking down and our gut bacteria is what makes the food available to us. So that's the comparison I really like is the human gut biome for living soil. And we feed the soil. The soil feeds the plant.

Trevor:  And last year, I remember from your talk, you were talking about the fungus, the white powder that you rubbed on seeds to help them grow properly. Tell me a little bit about that. It sounds neat, but it kind of flew over my head.

Lane:  I would be lying if I told you that I completely knew how it worked. What's really fascinating about soil is we actually know less about soil than we do about outer space or the deepest part of the oceans. And in one handful of good forest soil, there's more microorganisms than there are people on our planet. That being said, what you're talking about is the mycorrhizal fungi, and that's the type of fungi that actually lives on the surface of roots. And it exchanges phosphorous in exchange for sugars. So, it has the symbiotic relationship with the plant. It brings the roots phosphorus, they feed it sugar. And it's just living organism that lives on your root tips. It helps your roots develop tremendously. Most healthy plants have this, however, using conventional fertilizers, rototilling things like that, destroy that mycorrhizal fungi that can actually take months and years to colonize. So that's a little bit on the mycorrhiza.

Kirk:  Well, that that was nice. That was three stories again.

Trevor:  Yeah, it made me feel all warm and like we are in our luxurious hotel in Saskatoon.

Kirk:  Trevor and I decided to go on a shoestring and Trevor booked a hotel in downtown Saskatoon that I guess...

Trevor:  We don't want to. Saskatoon is a lovely city with lovely, lovely hotels.  We chose a very cheap one.

Kirk:  Yeah. And it was it was a great experience. It was. It was it was unique. But you know what, we did that trip within our purse strings. It was good. Yes, good road trip.

Trevor:  No, no, we did it on a very tight budget.

Kirk:  Yeah, it was fun. Thanks again. So that was a nice review of.

Trevor:  Of the summer.

Kirk:  Of the summer. But it was also Trevor. Like we always say, Canadian summers is so short. When I get back from Ethiopia, I'll see if I can find any cannabis related stories in Africa. Maybe I'll do a cold call someplace. But yeah, I look forward to getting some stories going in November and catching up.

Trevor:  Yeah. So, let's, uh, let's throw music back to Rene because he's been doing a good job so far.

Rene:  Thanks, guys. So in keeping with the whole concept of keeping the music on Reefer Medness, local or locally related, what I've chosen today is a song by a band called Wreckin’ So.  This show is produced out of the studios of CKDM Radio in Dauphin. CKDM a couple of years back at Dauphin Country Fest, sponsored the Battle of the Bands contest and Wreckin' So ended up being the winner. And they've gone on to perform and record and gain some notoriety and they are absolutely awesome. So I've chosen a Bill Withers cover “Ain't No Sunshine” by Wreckin' So. So that's the song for a Reefer Medness today.

Trevor:  OK, Renee. That was great, Kirk. It's been another good one to another.

Kirk:  Another good one Trevor.

Trevor:  Have fun in Africa. Stay Safe.

Kirk:  Immunizations are up to date.

Trevor:  Oh, good.


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