Matt Shales is a passionate medicinal cannabis advocate who wears many hats in the industry. Currently Matt runs the brand Hemp Brothers, as well as a hemp farm focused on terpenes. Concurrently, Matt runs the Medicinal Cannabis Support Group of 5,000 members on Facebook, as well as Medicann Health, a doctor clinic that has treated many patients for indications using CBD and THC products, including flower and oil. In this episode, we discuss a range of topics from hemp to cannabis, honing in on the difference between isolate, broad spectrum and full spectrum products, as well as the nuances in each category depending on the cannabinoid and terpene profile.
1:09 – Matt Shales started as investor in medicinal cannabis companies who found that companies weren’t operating with the same level of insight he was interested in. Despite his immense passion for cannabis products, Matt was disappointed with the pace of product and research development. With a particular interest in medical trials, and an understanding of doctors being the gatekeepers to medicinal cannabis, Matt began his own initiative with the birth of his clinic, MediCann Health, with support from Curtain University on the clinical trial side of things. Additionally, Matt is the founder of Hemp Brothers, which produces hemp seeds and various hemp products at their farm for human and pet consumption.
2:57 – Matt took over and manages the patient advocacy facebook group Medicinal Cannabis Support Group which helps educate its 5000+ members about legal access to medicinal cannabis products.
4:15 – Matt explains the inner workings of the facebook group and the common questions that arise within the Medicinal Cannabis Support Group forum. Matt educates his community from the ‘ground up’ by detailing each level of regulation alongside the ways in which cannabis products work. Most of the questions are related to prescriptions, accessibility, the difference between isolate CBD oil, broad spectrum CBD oil, full spectrum cannabis oil and delivery formats such as oils, flower and capsules. Matt notes that it is the role of the prescribing doctor to have the final say on what is appropriate for the patients specific needs.
7:11 – Matt explains that dissemination of information in the medicinal CBD industry is fickle, and industry participants are restricted from advertising anything to do with medicinal cannabis, THC or even CBD oil as per the TGA guidelines.
9:09 – Matt maintains that the barriers around the information relevant to medicinal cannabis need to be torn down without any vested financial interests in order to move the medicinal cannabis industry forward.
10:06 – Matt has a special interest in minor cannabinoids and terpenes and explains that there are nuances between different full-spectrum products dependent on the chemical compounds and cannabinoids present in them. Some products could be labelled as full or broad spectrum, but may not be very different to an isolate product dependent on their makeup. Matt points out that full spectrum cannabis contains all the cannabinoids present in a cannabis plant, and broad spectrum is the same with the THC removed. Shales explains that in order to obtain these compounds and create a cannabis or CBD oil tincture, one must take the original plant material and extract the compounds using a solvent such as ethanol, C02 or hydrocarbon, before mixing and diluting the extraction with a carrier oil to create a full plant extract. Matt also talks about the anecdotal experiences of patients who report not needing as high a dose of CBD oil if the product is full spectrum as opposed to CBD isolate oil in order to receive the medicinal benefit. Furthermore, Matt suggests that is may be possible to negate the side effects of THC such as short term memory loss by introducing terpenes such as pinene, or contrastingly it may be possible to increase the sedative qualities of medicinal cannabis by using a terpene profile geared towards sleep. Matt talks about the ratios of cannabinoids and terpenes as being important despite relatively small amounts in certain products, and highlights that we are only getting a snapshot of the current compounds as testing can only identify about 12 out of potentially 130 terpenes.
17:06 – Matt believes that as education improves, more awareness of customised ratios of cannabinoids will come to the foray. Many practitioners are used to single compounds (Active Pharmaceutical Ingredient – API) acting for a specific therapeutic purpose, however medicinal cannabis may benefit from the synergy of different cannabinoids. Therefore, isolating medicinal cannabis, such as CBD isolate oils, do not unlock the plants full potential as a therapeutic drug. Shales also draws the comparison of alcohol to cannabis, in that different drinks may produce different outcomes or be preferable to different consumers or patients. Shales expounds that eventually cannabis will be broken down into different groups and further classifications to help cater to specific patients needs, such as potentially removing THCV to reduce the anxiety provoking effects of medicinal cannabis. Matt also conceptualises the idea of standardising a full spectrum profile in a product to test the effects of a specific product.
21:41 – Matt talks about his company, the Hemp Brothers which produces hemp products containing hemp seed for pets and also full-spectrum products for vets. Shales explains the confusion around the legal status of hemp and how the industry still is still grappling with the regulations around legalities of different aspects of the cannabis plant.
24:59 – Matt talks about how people are accessing medicinal CBD oil for pets such as dogs through vets using the compounding route. Some individuals who might use CBD oil on their dog are intrigued to try it for themselves as a result. Shales also reminds listeners that there are no reported deaths from cannabis overconsumption of THC, though some of the side effects of medicinal cannabis on pets have caused them to walk a little wobbly after consuming too much. Matt also clarified that hemp seeds coupled with coconut oil could do wonders for pets as well.
28:52 – Matt Shales speaks about beginning his work in the cannabis industry as a hobby from pure interest. Initially, Shales had no financial support for his work and his hemp farm was born as a result of licensing a patch of his uncles chicken farm. The free land and fertilisers helped him create a setup where he could start working with terpenes grown from his hemp strain and cultivar varietals. Shales believes that breeding and stabilising genetics is an essential yet cumbersome part of hemp farming. Matt also mentioned that as a result of producing hemp crops with levels of cannabinoids that are too high, he has had to bury over 400kg of CBD flower.
34:01 – Matt explains that his background is not as a businessman and his strategy is purely to provide products that benefit patients. As a result Matt has always remained genuinely interested in agricultural development instead of profit driven business decisions. His enthusiasm stays firmly in the realm of possibilities left in the medicinal cannabis support group research avenues.
36:15 – Matt rejects the notion that government is not playing a constructive role for medicinal cannabis. Shales explains that the Australian government does not charge GST on medicine and believes the ‘high ups’ have no interest in blocking its access. He believes that Australians should be grateful that medicinal cannabis legalisation and accessibility has been granted, considering at the time, THC and CBD clinical trials had not clinically proven as efficacious. Regardless, Shales believes that despite numerous obstacles, the medicinal cannabis industry is heading in the right direction.