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Yes We CANN: The Mission of the American Chemical Society’s CANN Subdivision

By now, everyone knows of the government’s anathema towards cannabis. While this may be lessening, it still exists, as does lobbying against legalization from other industries perhaps worried about their already overstuffed wallets.

As the cannabis industry matures, organizations comprised of intelligent, trendsetting scientists can rival the negativity of corporate lobbying with the cool, scientific perspective of reason.Science and reason in politics? Are the first two oxymoronic to the third? Perhaps. But, as the medical efficacy of cannabis continues to dispel unsound hyperbole, someone must wave the flag of progress.

The American Chemical Society is a congressionally chartered professional association. It was founded in 1876 by a group of chemists who felt that this type of organization would “prove a powerful and healthy stimulus to original research…would awaken and develop much talent now wasting in isolation…and ensure a better appreciation of our science and its students on the part of the general public.”

Of the ACS’s current 150,000 members, about 250 are part of the CANN subdivision, a collection of like-minded chemists and scientists dedicated to advancing cannabis chemistry. The specific goal of the organization is “to be recognized as the leading chemistry authority on the safe & beneficial processing, extraction, and purity analysis of cannabis products”. This group will reach the next rung on the organization ladder, divisional status, when they count 500 members. CANN provides programming at both of the annual ACS meetings and outreach throughout the year at various networking events. The symposia at the ACS national meetings are essential because they give cannabis scientists a voice that is heard and respected by the greater Chemistry community and the world at-large.

Andrew Pham, current chair of CANN, discussed with me how, until recently, the idea of being a career cannabis scientist was more of a joke. “With legalization, people began to realize that it wasn’t just about growing pot in a broom closet anymore.To conduct high-scale operations, a robust knowledge of the sophisticated chemistry behind the cannabis plant was paramount to success”, Pham commented.

Scientists meet at seminars and conferences to share knowledge, educate, collaborate, and network. While millions of people already benefit from medical cannabis, many more are systematically seeking out its various forms of relief. While the internet allows any one to send information across the globe in mere instants, these conferences helps segregate the wheat from the chaff, ensuring proper science (and not hackery) is disseminated. They also give researchers the chance to collectively brainstorm, which potentially expedites powerful discoveries.

“Big businesses who needed help with science fueled a surge in demand for properly trained and educated chemists to levels unseen since the Manhattan project”, Pham told me. “There were very few places at which experts in both cannabis and chemistry could be found. Recognizing this, a small group of chemists founded CANN.”

Most recently, CANN held their first scholarship symposium in New Orleans to celebrate the accomplishments of extraordinary cannabis scientists. The scholarship, provided by CANN and Heidolph North America (HNA), purveyor of high-quality laboratory equipment, funds travel and ancillary expenses up to $1,500 to attend the ACS National Meetings where they can share their work with the scientific community.

About the author

Jason S. Lupoi, Ph.D.

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