We sat down with Dr. Andrew Kerklaan to talk all things medical cannabis
Dr. Andrew Kerklaan, DC has more than 20 years of experience at the pulse of the global health and wellness industry. He completed his studies in Toronto, Canada and launched his career in London, England. Five years later, Dr. Kerklaan returned to his hometown of Montreal determined to bring the best in integrative health care to his own community-based center. Convinced of the need for trusted products that deliver canna-rich relief without the feeling of being high, Dr. Kerklaan worked in tandem with leading biochemists to develop a line of topical formulas under his company Dr. Keerklan Therapeutics. We sat down with Dr. Andrew Kerklaan to talk all things medical cannabis.
Marijuana Retail Report: Start off what made you want to create medical cannabis products for patients in the cannabis industry?
Dr. Andrew Kerklaan: I have 20 years in practicing pain management primarily as a chiropractor based in Montreal in Canada. In the last few years, we’ve had a federally legal medical system, which means I’ve had lots of patients coming in asking questions to understand more about how cannabis can help their health. The issue in Canada is that you can only get flower and very low concentrated oil. You can’t get most of the products that you can find in legalized states in the US like Colorado, California, and so on, so when I see the interest and the demand from patients and then I look at what we’ve traditionally used in clinics including various non-cannabis creams and topicals, and then I look at the basic science around how effective these cannabinoids are including when applied to your skin and interact with your endocannabinoid receptors, it becomes very obvious that there’s a great opportunity to help people through infusing creams with cannabinoids. So what I’ve done is to take my 20 years of practice experience, combined it with the expertise of biochemists and formulation experts that we have access to here in Canada, and we came up with these fantastic formulations which I think are probably industry leading at this point. We had access to packaging experts so we’ve got products in tubes that are re-sealable, that make it sterile, that give it good shelf life. We also do all sorts of lab testing on it and so we’re pretty excited to be where we’re at this point. From a personal level, I’ve always wanted to help people beyond the walls of my clinic. To go beyond the one-on-one interaction. So to be able to help people on a big scale like this, I think it’s pretty fantastic. Ultimately I do see our product as a great way to introduce the mass market to the health potential of cannabis. I know there are lots of people out there who have already benefited from cannabis in many ways for their health, but I think this is also a great opportunity to introduce people to cannabis who might be hesitant.
Marijuana Retail Report: There seems to be a gap between patients getting the proper insight into how cannabis products might benefit them. How are you working to advance the knowledge base?
Andrew Kerklaan: I’m primarily a musculoskeletal specialist, so I treat the stuff that most of us suffer every day from back pain to neck pain, to sciatica and disc herniations. The muscular stuff like tension, stiffness, and headaches. All that stuff is really well addressed by cannabis in a topical format. So we’re trying to get the basic research that’s out there directly to patients who could benefit. We were able to do our own focus group studies comparing our products to non-cannabis products showing extremely effective responses to the infused products. So getting that information out there, sharing some of our data, and then helping people understand the differences between CBD, THC, and other cannabinoids, as well as the complexities of cannabis, like how terpenes influence the body. So we’re going to do our part to lay things out as much as possible. Also through our packaging, we’re making sure to take advantage of confirming our cannabinoid ratios to help patients make sense in terms of how CBD acts compared to how THC acts.
Marijuana Retail Report: You talked a little bit about THC versus CBD. What are some of the main uses of CBD and THC combinations and what are the benefits of having the difference ratios versus having a pure CBD or a pure THC product?
Andrew Kerklaan: In very basic terms CBD is a good anti-inflammatory and THC is a good painkiller, although there’s some overlap there, the information we’re basing our product development on is the concept of the entourage effect; that your receptors will respond to THC in a certain way and CBD in a certain way. If you combine those two, you can maximize the effect. Certainly, CBD on its own has a tremendous health potential for people, but it’s our belief as a company that as things become further legalized and hopefully federally legalized one day then it will make much more sense to combine THC and CBD together. I think what drives people towards CBD at the moment is the availability in other states that don’t have access to THC. But when you combine the two you get this entourage effect and CBD on its own probably doesn’t have the same therapeutic potential. Even though it has great potential, I think it can be even better when you use other cannabinoids along with it.
Marijuana Retail Report: Do you see the explosion of recreational marijuana affecting the medical market at all, or do you see it as a benefit?
Andrew Kerklaan: I see it as a benefit because you know people who might be leery to go out there and talk to their medical doctor who ultimately can be the gatekeeper to healthcare. They need to have that discussion to get the card in many jurisdictions so you know they might not want to share that information. So when you remove that barrier and people get access to it simply through a one-on-one face-to-face, either a conversation in a dispensary or hopefully one day in a pharmacy, I think that opens up the opportunity for many, many more people to access cannabis for their health.
Marijuana Retail Report: Does the current federal administration concern you at all?
Andrew Kerklaan: For sure everybody in the industry should be concerned about it. Ultimately we’re here to help the patient. I’d like the government to consider the health potential along with the minimal risk of using cannabis, especially in the topical format. Ultimately we’re here for the patient at the end of the day and we won’t let the looming shadow of the DOJ’s current stance change that.
Marijuana Retail Report: Some dispensaries have only maybe one or two CBD / THC products on the shelves, whereas others have entire sections dedicated to it. What, in your opinion, is the benefit to a retailer to really cater to the medical market with a full range of products versus only having one or two products to choose from?
Andrew Kerklaan: First of all, I think patient demand is there. Everybody has a different response to products and to applications of it, so I think offering people a vast variety of different products is ultimately a good thing. Secondly, some people might have perceptions about using CBD only and all they want to do is use CBD and others might come in saying, “I don’t want only CBD. I want the entourage idea of THC and CBD combined.” So I think it makes sense for dispensaries to be covering all of those bases in order to help facilitate the needs of the ever-growing market.
Marijuana Retail Report: What do you see as the future for topical lotions and other types of technology in the medical field for cannabis?
Andrew Kerklaan: From a retail perspective, I think it should be on the shelf of a big national pharmacy chain one day with people having easy access to it. Our research shows people report it’s more effective than anything else out there so let’s get that in the hands of people to benefit from. I think the national retail landscape would be fantastic. I would see that as a great step for topicals and a firm possibility in the near future as people’s attitudes shift. Again, the barrier to using a topical I would say is extremely low when you understand that our products, in particular, are non-psychoactive. You can get localized help without getting high. I think that’s a huge benefit that we can offer people and something that I think will expand with time.
Marijuana Retail Report: What advice would you give a patient looking at a cannabinoid treatment for their ailment but maybe is nervous maybe getting into it for the first time?
Andrew Kerklaan: For our products in particular you can go to our website. We have a lot of great information there. You can check out the information we have even on our packaging. We put ratios out there so you know exactly what you’re getting, what the cannabinoid dose is. I think patients having access to that information to be able to make decisions is an important part of the equation for them and I hope more companies become transparent with their packaging. I would also say ask questions of your retailer, nine out of ten times, they are patients themselves who have been using products similar to what you may be looking for and can give their personal experiences.
Marijuana Retail Report: If you could give one tip to our readers, what would it be?
Andrew Kerklaan: I’ll take this from clinical experience. Listen to what the person is telling you, what they are talking about. Ultimately, if the patient is standing there in front of you describing what’s going on for them, you’re going to get 90% of the information that you need from exactly the words that they’re talking about. So listen to them and make sure you come up with a solution that’s tailored to them specifically and not just kind of standard answer for everybody. In terms of topicals, we see this out there in talking to dispensaries; they know a few brands that are popular, but they don’t necessarily know what’s in fact in those brands so when we ask them about concentration levels, which we’ve taken very seriously and done a lot of information gathering on what sort of concentration to be at, when you look at some of the other topicals out there they might be 10% of where we’re at. I think there are some products out there that people just hear about and know are popular, but at the end of the day, it may not have the same sort of effectiveness that you know patients are looking for. So listen to your patient, and hold brands you stock in your dispensary accountable to give you accurate information about their products and its effective use you can train your budtenders to ultimately give to patients.