Senior medicinal plant chemistry majors Morgan Naumaan and Haylee Kuehl-Weisser have been researching cannabis for a year. Now that they’ve completed their research, produced results, and created poster presentations, they’re ready to show off their findings at the first annual Great Lakes Cannabis Education Conference.
The Northern Center invites industry professionals, professors, students and anyone interested in learning more about cannabis research to attend this event. The conference will take place on Tuesday, April 19 from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. Discussion topics range from scientific advances in the study of cannabis to consumption, use and distribution of cannabis.
“[This event] is a way for students and other people in the scientific cannabis industry to network and connect with each other when it comes to research, job potential and things like that,” said said Kuehl-Weisser. “I’m really excited to network and hear other students’ research.”
The event will begin with a keynote from Riley Kirk, research scientist and cannabis educator. Kirk’s work has revolved around the use of smoke extracts in the cannabis industry.
“In the herbal medicine lab, we make extracts using solvents and plant materials, not smoke,” Naumaan said. “I’m super interested to see what [Kirk] has to say about smoke extracts and how they make their products using smoke.
Although the event is designed as an educational conference, Naumaan and Kuehl-Weisser are also interested in connecting with industry professionals for post-graduation. Due to Marquette’s relatively remote location, job opportunities in the cannabis industry are few and far between.
“It’s kind of hard to network in this industry, especially being here in UP. It’s hard to attend more events and meet people down-state,” Kuehl-said Weisser. “It would be really cool to find more opportunities that I haven’t been able to find online, so I’m excited to connect.”
In addition to Kuehl-Weisser and Naumaan, several other students from the Medicinal Plant Chemistry and Indoor Agriculture programs will present their research to the array of legal advisers, academics and entrepreneurs who will be in attendance.
Indoor agriculture students like Naumaan will showcase hydroponic growing systems they themselves have designed and built. These systems use water as the growing medium rather than soil.
“I created a hydroponic drip feeding system for cannabis plants,” Naumaan said. “It will be really cool to see all the other systems and ideas floating around within the student body.”
In addition to his work on indoor agriculture, Naumaan will also present his research on the chemistry of medicinal plants, which is directly related to his construction of a hydroponic power system.
“My research attempted to investigate cannabinoid production between plants grown in soil versus plants grown in different variations, such as hydroponic mediums,” Naumaan said.
Kuehl-Weisser’s research focuses on the degradation rates of cannabinoids and terpenes, two compounds contained in a cannabis plant. The most well-known cannabinoids are CBD and THC, and terpenes, such as pinene and limonene, help determine the specific smell of hemp.
Taking hemp from flowers grown on campus, Kuehl-Weisser extracted oils using heat and pressure. After placing the extracted oil in three different environments, a refrigerator, a dark space, and under an LED light, Kuehl-Weisser attempted to measure how quickly the oils broke down.
“I got the idea when I was at a dispensary,” Kuehl-Weisser said. “I saw how they displayed snippets and was curious to see how that would essentially affect the products that were being sold.”
Naumaan and Kuehl-Weisser hope to receive professional feedback on their research presentations, as well as exchange ideas with other students.
“I hope my research can help future students understand some of my mistakes so they can learn, create, and show a better research project,” Kuehl-Weisser said. “There are so many little things that can affect your data. I’m open to see if other students can catch something I haven’t.
While the Cannabis Education Conference is an academic experience for attendees, it also raises awareness of the role of cannabis in society and the thriving herbal medicine chemistry program on campus. Kuehl-Weisser sees this conference as an opportunity for NMU to expand the program and its needs.
“Space and faculty are the main things the MPC program desperately needs,” Kuehl-Weisser said. “It’s hard to get that one-on-one experience with teachers. In terms of growth and space for instruments, there are so many students per instrument that it’s difficult.
The Cannabis Education Conference will also welcome many local cannabis industry leaders and entrepreneurs, particularly from Fire Station, Lume and Higher Love dispensaries, to speak at the event.
Those interested in attending the event can register here. NMU students will be able to join for free, while other students can join for $25 and general attendees for $50. Coffee and refreshments will be provided at the start of the conference and lunch will be provided at 12:30 p.m.
“[Cannabis] is super important because it is gaining popularity so quickly and people are consuming it at such a rapid rate every day. I think there needs to be more discussion about what this plant actually involves, what chemicals it makes, are they harmful, aren’t they harmful and how can we use them to make medicine,” said said Naumaan. “[Cannabis] is a truly complex and unique plant that needs much more study and research.