Being a Trusted Source for Cannabis Research and Scientific Developments – Rich Whitworth of The Cannabis Scientist

The cannabis space continues to evolve. As research reveals more about the plant and its many chemical compounds, industry professionals and consumers alike need a trusted source to reveal the latest developments that matter.

The Cannabis Scientist is an online magazine and media outlet that provides up-to-date and unbiased articles by some of the leading minds in the space. Covering a wide range of topics – including cannabinoid analysis, medicinal cannabis, business news, and even psychedelics – The Cannabis Scientist has been a respected authority since its inception in 2016.

Find out the origins of the magazine, what sets the publication apart, and the industry trends that lie ahead in this exclusive Leafwire interview with Rich Whitworth, Content Director at Texere Publishing, the company behind The Cannabis Scientist.

Leafwire:  What is your cannabis journey? How did The Cannabis Scientist come to be?

Rich Whitworth: I’ll give you the short version. I gained a degree in medical biochemistry many years ago but somehow ended up working in Tokyo for a publishing company. Eventually, I came back to the UK and combined my academic and publishing background to work for a pharmaceutical magazine. In 2013, I joined Texere Publishing when it was a young startup with staff you could count on one hand. I was the launch editor of a magazine called The Analytical Scientist, which is still going strong. And that is where I first encountered the cannabis industry. Specifically, we published an article calledUnraveling the Cannabiome by Scott Kuzdzal and William Lipps in 2015. I was hooked.

In 2016, I was at an analytical conference called Pittcon and had a number of fascinating conversations around cannabis and the increasing need for improved analytical methods. I figured I was in a good position to connect the worlds of analytical science and cannabis to help everyone move forward – and The Cannabis Scientist was born. Initially, it was simply an exciting supplement to The Analytical Scientist. But, as we began to talk with different people in the field, we realized that cannabis science was, of course, much wider than testing. We started to seek contributions from people doing everything from plant genetics to randomized control trials – and The Cannabis Scientist fledged the nest! 

LW:  What can visitors to The Cannabis Scientist expect in terms of content?

RW:  First and foremost, they’ll find many articles that shed light on all aspects of cannabis science and research. They’ll also meet plenty of characters – predominantly scientists – that work in this field and have very interesting things to say. The words science and research should not be seen as off-putting to readers who don’t consider themselves scientists as such. Clearly, we cover the science and research, but we’re not a journal and we don’t tend to drill down into super technical details – our focus is on making all corners of the field accessible to all. We provide a high-level view of what the science or research is telling us – what it actually means for the field – and what needs to happen next. To gain those insights, the focus is very much on the people doing the science rather than the science itself. In fact, that’s the case for all of Texere’s publications. And that’s also why it’s called The Cannabis Scientist and not Cannabis Science. We’re interested in what people are thinking, where they want to see change, what motivates them, and what frustrates them. These are all very emotive angles.

You’ll also find some interesting articles that aren’t afraid to delve into the darker corners of the cannabis industry – for example, Chris Hudalla talking about the field’s unicorn, aka delta-8.

What you won’t find is a lot of flag waving for cannabis as a panacea. Content and contributors are selected on the basis of credibility. It’s great to have all-or-nothing advocates in the industry, but it needs to be balanced by what the science actually tells us.

LW:  What, if anything, has surprised you since launching The Cannabis Scientist? What have you learned?

RW:  My first surprise was my lack of knowledge in the subject area. When I learned about all the many different chemicals that exist in this plant, and the potential that they have, I was fascinated and wanted to find out more. I was also surprised when I learned more about the endocannabinoid system — and the fact that cannabinoids act upon this system that is far more complex than we first thought.

The level of stigma and regulatory issues have prevented more scientists from delving into this, frankly, fascinating world. We have a complex plant that directly acts upon a very complex signaling system in our bodies, and we’re only just scratching the surface. That’s amazing. But it’s also sad; what would we know now if we’d have been researching this in more detail with a greater amount of resources for the last 50 years or so?

LW:  Do you foresee any major changes ahead for the cannabis industry this year?

RW:  I don’t know about this year, but I see some important ongoing trends, which I covered in a 2019 editorial that is still relevant – probably because the pandemic stole a couple of years. One is Big Pharma’s march into the cannabis space. We’ve already seen examples of pharma companies purifying certain compounds and taking cannabis down a very different path. I also foresee clashes when it comes to overly broad patents, if and when cannabis is made federally legal. There is likely to be an almighty amount of confusion over what people own in terms of IP or what they can claim to be their own version of cannabis. It’s hard to predict when the fallout will occur, but it seems inevitable.

The other trend that I see is growing acceptance of cannabis and its constituent compounds. Acronyms like CBD are now household names even though most people wouldn’t have had a clue five or so years ago. Even my own elderly and quite conservative parents know about this stuff now.

LW:  What else should the Leafwire community know about The Cannabis Scientist?

RW:  The Cannabis Scientist has a growing readership of people from across the cannabis industry, as well as the cannabis curious – and everyone is welcome. 

Reaching the “cannabis industry” is not easy given its disparate nature, and we can help. If you’ve got a story to tell, if you’re working on an interesting project, or if you’ve seen (or conducted) some great research – please get in touch. Equally, if there’s an important topic that we’ve not uncovered, let us know. We’re an open platform and we want to be accessible to everyone. 

In short, my message would be: tell us your stories, and we’ll share them with our readers!

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