The Can-Do of Cannabinoids

By Steven Libowitz   |   May 9, 2019

The Santa Barbara Medical Cannabis Conference and Expo – which would have been the first of its kind in the tri-county area save for a similar if smaller event held in Ojai last weekend – explores the science, and a bit of the spirituality, behind cannabis and CBD and their ability to heal ailments of the body and the mind. The all-day event (7:30 am to 6 pm on Saturday, May 11) boasts almost a dozen presenters, including keynote speakers and workshop leaders, plus an expo featuring many exhibitors offering free (non-THC) giveaways, as well as music and food vendors.

The primary theme covers cannabinoids and derivatives’ potential to heal a wide variety of ailments, from cancer to chronic pain and more, as well as address addiction, relieve stress, and improve emotional health. Among the topics will be a review of case-studies, information about how to create a “cannabis health care plan,” and, of interest now that marijuana is legal in California, how to grow your own organic medical cannabis and a survey of delivery methods.

Uwe Blesching, Ph.D., an integrative medicine specialist who holds a BA in Humanities, an MA in Psychology, and a PhD in Higher Education and Social Change and who has more than 20 years experience in emergency medicine as a paramedic in San Francisco, gives one of the keynote addresses: “Breaking the Cycle of Opioid Addiction: Supplement Your Pain Management with Cannabis.” The other one comes from Dr. Joe Goldstrich, who is board certified in Internal Medicine, Cardiology, and Clinical Lipidology and had almost 50 years of experience before joining a Medical Marijuana clinic in Oakland after retiring in 2013. Now, he’s among the growing number of physicians who specialize in helping patients use cannabis to combat cancer.

Among the seven workshop presenters are Karen Mankins, an RN who will provide a roadmap to transition from pharmaceuticals to cannabis for healing; Seth Matrisciano, who will explain how to grow and prepare medical cannabis for maximum therapeutic benefits; Michael Scott, whose talk, “Medical Cannabis: Healing Mind, Body and Spirit,” goes beyond the physical benefits; and Matthew Vieth, with “Cannabis Kitchen: How to Make Your Own Delicious Infused Edibles.”

The Santa Barbara Medical Cannabis Conference and Expo is co-organized by Michael Russer and Jacqueline Lopez, the couple who also create and continue to produce and host EntheoMedicine Santa Barbara that deals mostly with the healing and spiritual aspects of psychedelics and who also created last year’s Plant Medicine Conference. It’s not a coincidence that the event takes place at the Santa Barbara Veterans Memorial building (112 West Cabrillo Boulevard) as the information and opportunities might be of particular interest to veterans, who are also the focus of several of the speakers. Admission is $40 and up, with discounts available through May 10. For tickets and more information, visit

Cannabis, Continued

Santa Barbara-based Dr. David Bearman, who was one of the four presenters at MediCannaCon: The Ojai Medical Cannabis Conference last Saturday in Ojai, will be speaking in town this week, but not at the Santa Barbara Medical Cannabis Conference on Saturday. A pioneer in the free and community clinic movement and a veteran of almost 40 years in the drug abuse treatment and prevention field including serving as the co-director of the Haight-Ashbury Drug Treatment Program and as a member of Governor Reagan’s Inter Agency Task Force on Drug Abuse and the Santa Barbara County Drug Abuse Technical Advisor Committees, Dr. Bearman is also the author of Drugs Are NOT the Devil’s Tools: How Discrimination and Greed Created a Dysfunctional Drug Policy and How It Can Be Fixed and the new book Cannabis Medicine: A Guide to the Practice of Cannabinoid Medicine. Bearman will discuss and sign the book, in which he explains how and why cannabis works in humans, dosing, routes of administration, medicinal uses and more, at Chaucer’s Books in Loreto Plaza, at 7 pm on Tuesday, May 14. Admission is free. 

Bountiful Buddhism 

A busy week in the local Buddhist community includes some regular gatherings as well as two visiting lectures/workshops. Lharamba Geshe, the eighth incarnation of Khangser Rinpoches and considered one of the great teachers of the 21st century, was trained in the Gelug tradition at Sera Jey Monastery in India, but he also has the heritage in the Nyingma tradition to which his ancestors belonged. He serves as a spiritual teacher at Sera Jey monastic university in India, where he teaches Buddhist philosophy to hundreds of monks and novices. Rinpoche will give the lecture “Mind Training in Tibetan Buddhism” at 7:30 pm on Friday, May 10, at Yoga Soup, sponsored by the Santa Barbara Institute for Consciousness Studies, which was founded by famed Buddhist scholar/teacher B. Alan Wallace. Admission is $15, free for students, and no one will be turned away due to lack of funds. Email or visit

BodhiPath Santa Barbara also has a special guest in its former resident teacher Khaydroup, who during her tenure from 2000-2002 also helped found both the San Luis Obispo Bodhi Path and West Los Angeles Bodhi Path Centers (the latter moved to Pasadena in 2004 where Khaydroup continues as the resident teacher). Khaydroup’s talk, “Transforming Negative Emotions into the Five Wisdoms,” deals with how the mind’s energy can be corrupted when it is felt through the lens of ego-clinging, turning wisdom into negative emotion, speech, and action, with resultant negative effects. The workshop on Saturday, May 11, will explore how to avoid the extremes of either emotional repression or negative action by tapping into the five Buddha families wisdom energy. Admission is $30-$60.

Also at the Santa Barbara center: “What You Always Wanted to Know About Awakening but Were Too Afraid to Ask,” a live Q&A session with current resident teacher Dawa Tarchin Phillips about practicing dharma in daily life, at work, at home, in relationship and any other place out in the world. Admission to the 7-9 pm event this Thursday, May 9, is by donation.

Meanwhile at Mahakankala

The Buddhist center just off lower State Street is in the midst of a new class series, “Practical Nirvana: Meditations on the Four Seals,” basic Buddhist meditations that can create powerful causes to experience a deeply peaceful, blissful mind and permanent mental freedom. Regularly practicing the sequence of meditations can result in the mind becoming progressively more tranquil and positive and increasingly more pure and powerful, eventually leading to an experience of lasting peace and contentment from within our own minds. Each class begins with a guided breathing meditation and culminates with a second meditation based upon the evening’s topic. The series began on May 1, but beginners and those with meditation experience are welcome to drop in to any of the classes in the course, which cost $10 each.

Beginners are also welcome to the mindful movement of prostrations combined with chanted prayers and a wish to purify the mind and body that takes place at Mahakankala every Thursday evening. A brief introduction to the practice will be given at the start of each 6:30-7:15 pm session, which carry no cost, although donations are accepted.

Sunburst Sundries 

Get grounded at the Lompoc sanctuary and retreat center this weekend – literally. Sunburst Rocks! Paleontology Workshop features local experts Craig Hanson and Moksha Badarayan leading an exploration of the geology and fossil records of the Central Coast and the sanctuary itself. The family friendly event, from 9:30 am to 3 pm on Saturday, May 11, includes interactive presentations and a hike to view onsite fossil specimens and take in the natural beauty of the land. Sliding scale donation of $30-$40.

Sunburst YogaFest, which takes place Friday to Monday, May 24-27, offers a weekend of instruction in different styles of yoga that both engage the physical and go far deeper to help participants re-discover the real purpose of yoga — uniting with your true divine nature. The event is meant to challenge what’s happened with yoga in the West, when the practice has lost much of its original significance to focus on merely stretching the body and “calming the mind.” Participants will explore Kundalini Yoga (which combines yoga, breath techniques, mantra, music and meditation, and is designed to promote a flow of energy and consciousness), Vraaja Yoga (a meditation in movement, combining alignment, strength, and fluidity), Bhakti Yoga & Kirtan (devotional music and chants to bring people closer to the divine in all things), and other modalities, including Restorative Yoga, Thai Yoga Therapy, Pranayama Yoga, Guided Meditation, and Heartbeat Movement Yoga. Admission is $375-$525. Visit

Sunburst’s Sunday Meditation Gatherings continue every week at 10:30 am and feature live, spirit-filled music, an insightful talk, a period of silent meditation, all followed by homemade brunch and a guided hike where you also can enjoy the outdoor labyrinth and gardens. A children’s program is available during the quiet portion, and a yoga class takes place from 9-10 am on the first and third Sundays each month. Upcoming topics include Divine Mother Loves All Her Children (May 12), Moving Through Grief (May 19), Honoring Great Saints and Sages, Messengers of Truth (May 26), and Stilling the Nervous System (June 2). Call (805) 736-6825, email or visit 

NVC Gatherings Coming Back 

Following last month’s return of the well-attended NVC conference at the Wake Center, Nonviolent Communication facilitator Lesley Weinstock is also resurrecting regular get-togethers to practice the process. NVC allows people to create cooperative relationships, revitalize stagnantones, and repair those that are in conflict via a simple, proven, four-step process. NVC employs language that encourages us to own our experiences, and honors and values everyone’s needs. Shame, blame, and domination are replaced by empathy, compassion, and honesty. The gathering is intended to provide group support as people build the critical emotional intelligence skills via embodying the transformative language and lifestyle in a meaningful, fun and practical way. The meeting format includes a check-in, “empathy exchange,” an exercise or game followed by discussion, and a check-out. The 7-9:15 pm gathering takes place on Monday, May 13, at a private home in Montecito. Suggested Donation is $15-20. Email


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