UBCO student presents his cannabis research findings

Justin Pearson teared up after his BSc research presentation, seeing his mother in the audience long after her end-of-life expectation.

Justin Pearson 2016

In the end, Justin Pearson’s research project into the chemical composition of cannabis oil did not prove his thesis that the colour of trichomes in marijuana relate to the plant’s cannabinoid profile.

But his project studying the marijuana plant at UBCO certainly pushed the envelope and moved research into what is a relatively unknown plant forward.

Pearson, 22, completed his research project on Wednesday, presenting his findings to more than 70 people at UBCO, many more than your typical research project.

Those in attendance included residents interested in treatment with cannabis oil as well as many of Pearson’s colleagues in school, his family, along with people who work in the medicinal marijuana field.

“The findings are that the colour (of the trichomes) does not speak to a certain cannabinoid level; the colour seems to be brought on by something else,” said Pearson following the 20 minute presentation.

“Our findings told us that from strain to strain (in the marijuana plant) the cannabinoid level is different and that points to the importance of testing your products because what one person tells you you have, might be completely different.

“Because it’s a plant, there are many variables. Anyone who is looking to explore this for their health, they should do their due diligence to have it tested because they really need to know what’s in it.”

Pearson threw himself into the research project due to the health of his mother, who suffers from ovarian cancer but who found relief in the form of cannabis oil.

She was given just months to live but after beginning cannabis oil treatments she lived past her end of life date and was in the crowd watching her son present his findings.

“Just her being here…that’s why I teared up at the end,” said an emotional Pearson, who wiped away tears as he closed his presentation.

“The importance of having her here…that’s the reason why I’m doing this. That’s why I petitioned so hard to get this project. She’s here and I believe it’s because of (cannabis oil) and I wanted to learn more. She’s my inspiration.”

Following his mom’s diagnosis and her amazing turnaround with cannabis oil treatments, Justin’s father Chris threw himself into research as well, finding out how to produce cannabis oil and administering the treatments.

In the process, he became a defacto expert on the subject and says it was amazing to watch his eldest son present his findings.

“You get so entrenched in the process, like a squadron of soldiers fighting a battle, but when you see the findings presented in this way, it makes it so much more scientific and gives it additional credibility,” said Pearson.

“It made me feel a lot more confident that we had done things the right way. I was more impressed than I thought I would be.

“And I was incredibly impressed that Justin took this upon himself to do this. It was pretty powerful.”

While his thesis may not have been proved by the research project, Justin Pearson’s findings did point to the presence of many cannabinoids in the marijuana plant.

Those cannabinoids are believed to work with cannabinoid receptors in the human body, helping a variety of ailments.

“We found different strains produced different levels of cannabinoids and this could impact commercial growers’ strain selection in order to optimize their overall production,” he said.

“In conclusion, this is an exciting topic, this is an exciting plant and I believe it proves we need to do further studies on the plant, because in the end, we owe it to the patient.”

Pearson has now completed his bachelor of science degree with an honours in biology and later this year will embark on another adventure: An eight-month humanitarian trip to Sri Lanka with his sister Reanne.

The pair both won scholarships from UBCO to make the trip. He plans to apply for medical school upon his return to Canada and also said he would be interested in further research into medicinal marijuana in the future.


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