tv Press Here NBC November 25, 2018 9:00am-9:31am PST
ofwe'll talk about the science coof infusion withd parts one of the world's experts. plus, virtual reality in the doctor's office, and can bitcoin survive a recession? our reporters, joe menn from reuters and jon swartz of barron's this week on "press:here." ♪ scott mcgrew: good morning, everyone, i'm scott mcgrew. this is a bottle of lemonade infused with components of marijuana. i bought it at a dispensary, this is legal in california for any adult to buy. nonetheless, i felt a little funny about bringing it into work, so i checked with my boss and she said,
"just keep it capped." marijuana-infused beverages have a huge potential market, billions of dollars. coca-cola has considered creating a line of beverages containing cbd or cannabinoids. coke spokesman tells bloomberg, "we are closely watching the growth of non-psychoactive cbd as an ingredient in wellness beverages around the world. the space is evolving quickly. no decisions have been made at this time." ronan levy is chief strategy officer at trait biosciences, a company that knows how to put cbds into soft drinks. came down from toronto to talk to us, and of course canada just legalized marijuana. thanks for being with us. joe menn of reuters as well, jon swartz of barron's. let's start with just some basic terms to start with. what is cbd and what is thc? ronan levy: so, cbd is cannabidiol, and thc is a delta nine tetrahydrocannabinol. scott: i'm so glad you said that, not me. ronan: those are long words, and typically
they're referred to as cannabinoids. cbd is often seen as the more medical or therapeutic cannabinoid. it's known for having anti-epileptic properties, anti-seizure, can be very calming, anti-anxiety. thc is a thing most people commonly associate with cannabis, which is the part that's psychoactive-- scott: it gets you high. okay, so there are products that have cbd in them, and coke is looking at cbd, and there are products that have thc in them. the thcs are simply to get you high, but the cbds might be sold at what, liquor stores, 7-elevens? ronan: i mean, it ultimately depends on how the regulatory environment frames up. in north america and canada, cbd is still regulated like thc, so you can only buy it from licensed producers and through licensed dispensaries, but in the us it may be different. and because it is non-psychoactive, it's much more likely to be treated like a nutraceutical, and therefore probably available in pharmacies, in drug stores,
and convenience stores at some point in the future. scott: how good is it from a health perspective? what is the--or what are they capable of? and how tricky are they to get into beverages? ronan: you know, there's a lot of potential medical and therapeutic benefits to it from relaxation to pain relief. and like i said, anti-epileptic properties, anti-anxiety properties. it's being studied more and more, but generally it's accepted as safe and has a lot of therapeutic benefits. scott: and you're saying this with a straight face. i mean, this is actual science, right? because i mean, there was a point in which, "yeah, smoking a joint, you know, is very medically--" but cbd has been proven as--and it doesn't get you high. ronan: it doesn't get you high. scott: but proven as a relaxant or some sort of medical benefit. ronan: absolutely, absolutely. i mean, studies are still continuing. all of the studies to date have been limited in focus because of their restricted nature of cannabis period. but there is a lot of evidence to support this. in my background, we started clinics specializing in medical cannabis, and almost uniformly all of our doctors will say
that medical cannabis was the most effective thing they've prescribed their patients. scott: you bring that up, i was looking at your team of scientists. because oftentimes we think of, you know, marijuana cultivation and that sort of thing as maybe not being a team of scientists. phd in molecular biology, a phd--two phds in biology, phd in molecular plant pathology, one in cellular biology, and another in neurology. so, you are taking this quite seriously. ronan: absolutely, our science team is of incredible caliber. i mean, our chief science officer is formerly of los alamos national labs, he was responsible for the us biofuels program, the us biosafety program. he's working with nasa to put plants on the international space station and ultimately on mars. like, we're talking incredible level minds working on this. jon swartz: so, this bottle's the equivalent of about five joints approximately? ronan: five to ten joints. scott: this one has thc in it. jon: okay, okay, okay. and what i'm wondering is the influx of drinks like such as
these, what type of influence do you think or impact do you think that would have on the traditional pot industry? and i'm thinking of edibles and i'm thinking of joint-- the traditional joint. ronan: yeah, that's subject to a lot of discussion. but i take the view, along with many people in the industry, that the direction of the industry is going to go towards beverages, at least from a recreational perspective. jon: now, why is that? ronan: because we have a society that, even though a lot of people still use cannabis in traditional smoking joints or vaping, our society is much more comfortable with consuming beverages. going to a bar sitting down, it's a very social way to interact. and i think people are going to adopt cannabis beverages. and the way they adopted to alcohol, once cannabis beverages get to the point where they can compete in terms of quality, consistency, et cetera with alcohol. jon: so, you could conceivably see cannabis bars that would serve alcohol as well as these types of beverages that could be mixed with other--with alcoholic drinks? ronan: absolutely, i think in the future that's definitely the direction, you know? from a public health perspective, the consequences
of alcohol are significant. and while cannabis is not without its potential risks, the overall harm profile of cannabis is much lower than alcohol, so i could definitely see our society moving in that direction. joseph menn: so, i know that cbd doesn't have the getting high quality that's thc, but does it convey any of the munchies drive from--associated with thc? ronan: no, i think the munchies is largely driven by the thc. i don't remember exactly the biomechanics of how it works, but that is a thc element. actually, cbd can be--have the opposite effect. scott: and your company, trait biosciences, has figured out how to get this stuff into the sodas, into the beers, into the wines. it can go in anything. i saw there was coffee that had cbd in it as well. but you've figured out how to do that, and it's more complicated than simply putting something in the water, right? ronan: yeah, absolutely. so, cannabinoids by their nature are fat soluble, which means they dissolve in fats, not into water.
so, if you try and add cannabis extracts into a bottle of water, a bottle of juice, it's naturally going to separate. what our team has managed to develop is water soluble cannabinoids. and it sounds very high-tech, but actually, it's following a very natural process. if you were to consume that bottle, what your body would eventually do as part of the metabolism is attach a sugar molecule to the cannabinoid. that makes it water soluble, and eventually your body can process the cannabis, and essentially you'd pee it out at some point in the future. what our technology does is we can do that to the cannabinoids before you consume, and so we have tobacco cells or yeast cells that can attach the sugar molecule to the cannabinoid, and therefore it's water soluble, so you don't have that separation issue. and there's other challenges that go with fat soluble cannabinoids, the fact it takes a long time. jon: if a soft drink maker decided to mass produce this, would that have a significant impact on their operations and how they produce it on the assembly line, say if like a coke for instance given the complexity?
ronan: no, i don't think so. i mean, the process that we use is a process called glycosylation. that's actually used in a lot of products right now, which is just attaching the sugar molecule. for our particular technology, what we would do is take the fat-soluble cannabinoid oils, 'cause they're typically extracted into medium-chain triglycerides, coconut oil, that kind of stuff, we put it in a fermenter for about 24 hours to 48 hours, and out the other side as water-soluble cannabinoids, so. scott: how far ahead are you on this than compared to other? 'cause there are companies racing to get this done. you get the contract from, and i'm not saying you would, but from coke. i'm not saying coke is even involved. but you get the contract from coke and you're set for life. are you far enough ahead of everyone else that you'll be the one? ronan: i think so, i mean, there are a number of different ways that people are trying to tackle the problems associated with fat-soluble cannabinoids. some people are trying to use emulsification, some try-- are trying to use nano emulsifications. both of those have their limitations. our process is very different, and we're the only one pursuing a glycosylation pathway in terms of doing it in the plant.
so, we're by far the leader when it comes to that particular pathway, and we think it's the best because with emulsions, you're going to get cloudy products that separate like salad dressing. with nano emulsions and nano technologies, they address some of the issues with emulsions, but there's a lot of health concerns that go with nano technologies. you know, you can have dna damage, cytotoxicity, nano particles can cross into the brain, which is something you don't necessarily want. nano particles have a purpose in medicine as an effective way to deliver medications to the body, but if you're looking at recreational cannabis products, then you really got to question whether you want to be putting that into your body just for fun. scott: i'm going to grab the last question, and that is that coca-cola had reportedly been talking to aurora about doing this. and coke, again, has said, "this is just something we're looking at." but obviously that'd be huge if coke started to create cbd soft drinks, et cetera. they started talking to aurora about it.
your company's ceo used to be at aurora, so too did the president, and so did two members of the board, that actually includes you as well. ronan: that's correct, yes. scott: so, let me ask, is coke going to go with aurora? 'cause you would know, wouldn't you? ronan: i would not know. and if i did know, i'm not sure i could comment. but listen, aurora is one of the big players in the industry. the biggest challenge that a company like coke would face is getting out enough supply of cbd to put in products to fulfill a global market. and so, my guess is if they're going to do a deal with anybody, they're going to look at some of the largest players, of which aurora is one of the top three. scott: fair enough. and we've seen molson coors and inbev and couple of wines as well talk about it as well. ronan levy is a cso at trait biosciences. thanks for being with us this morning. ronan: my pleasure. scott: well, doctors using virtual reality when "press:here" continues. ♪
here's a video conference between doctors in the bay area and doctors in cameroon. the nonprofit health4theworld uses video, apps, and vr to spread knowledge. now, it's hard to show video--virtual reality on television, but here's a glimpse at what doctors and patients are looking at as they work to understand stroke. dr. bhavya rehani is ceo of the nonprofit behind this effort, health4theworld. thanks for being with us this morning. bhavya rehani: thanks for having me. scott: so, you are a professional doctor, you are a professor at ucsf, and you run a charity as well? bhavya: that's right. scott: and find the time to do all those? bhavya: it's amazing. it's so fulfilling that it's worth it. scott: what originally inspired this? bhavya: so, you know, i used to visit my granddad in a small village in india, and he had no access to doctors. and he suffered a huge stroke, and it was sad to see that he did not have access to basic medical services. so, growing up, i wanted to do something to bring health to people who do not have access to doctors
in villages around the world. so, that inspired the formation of health4theworld, to bring health to people who do not have access to doctors. jon: so, i want to ask you, i'm maybe taking a quantum leap, but can vr eventually be used in real life surgery? bhavya: it eventually--it can. you know, right now, i think the way it has progressed in the last few years, utilizing vr for robotic surgeries, it's certainly in the horizon, so it can. jon: the reason why i ask you that is i--there was a--there's a documentary that just came out about ai. and one of the examples they show is an actual surgery taking place involving an ovary. so, i'm just wondering, in the case of vr, would it be kind of very limited in its scope of use and kind of typical scenario, what type of surgery it might be used? bhavya: so, you know, it can be used for surgical planning, like for example for pediatric fractures. you know, you know, to see the fractures in three dimensions and to see, you know, what's the best approach to take towards a fracture.
it has already been used for separation of conjoined twins, so you know, to see the anatomy better of how the twins are joined and, you know, and to understand, you know, how to operate, you know, without causing the least damage. joseph: i'm sorry, in the example that you were giving of in pediatric surgery, is that something where you can upload from the site the actual data from the specific patient to the site so it can be used remotely by doctors here in the us or somewhere else to-- bhavya: yes, yes. so, you can upload the 3-d model of the patient, of the fracture, of the bone. and then once you upload it on the website or on the web platform, you can actually share that with doctors, discuss it with video conferencing, what the best approach, surgical approach would be, and then go from there. scott: you're also using vr headsets to teach patients in these remote locations, 22 countries, right? bhavya: yes, yes. scott: in 22 different countries about their own health and stroke recovery, that sort of thing.
i'm imagining somebody in cameroon putting on a vr headset for the first time, because anybody who puts a vr headset for the first time just thinks it's the coolest thing in the world. you must get funny reactions, where you're trying to teach them something and it's like, "well, hold on." what's the reaction when they put on that vr headset? bhavya: it's amazing, they love it. you know, it's so cool, and they laugh, and they smile because it's so interactive and immersive, you know? so, the first time we gave a vr headset to a stroke patient and, you know, it was a vr video of a beach. and we said, "imagine yourself walking on this beach and imagine touching the water." and so, he looked up, he looked at the sky, he looked down, he looked at the sand, he looked on the side. and then, you know, the mind exercises were coming up, you know? and it was amazing. scott: now, why do you have a stroke patient imagine on a beach? is it a stress sort of thing? bhavya: it's based on the scientific principle of motor imagery. so, if a stroke patient--imagine a stroke patient who cannot move his body, who's paralyzed from head to toe. and if the only--the only thing the patient can do
is actually imagine an action. so, if you give a patient a vr headset and say that, "okay, imagine that you're going to walk on this beach or imagine you're going to touch the wave," that actually stimulates the motor cortex in the brain. so just--so, that's the power of imagination, and that's a scientific concept of motor imagery. and what vr does is it immerses the stroke patient into that environment and helps them do this mind exercise based on motor imagery. joseph: now, is that just good for the health of their brain, or does it actually help them move again? bhavya: that's a very good question. it actually helps them move again because it stimulates the motor cortex in the brain, so it stimulates those neurons, so it actually helps in regaining mobility over time. jon: what can vr do that maybe traditional training for a medical student can't? i mean, what dimension does it bring? how does it change maybe the way they learn or the process in which they learn? bhavya: that's a very good question. so, i worked with some medical trainees, and they told me that medical anatomy is so boring, you know?
you're trying to learn it from two-dimensional books and these are three-dimensional structures in the body. and so, they said, "we want to learn three-dimensional anatomy," you know? so, what vr does, which is different from traditional teaching, is for example, if you have a brain aneurysm and you wear a vr headset, you can actually walk around the aneurysm. you can see what arteries attach to the aneurysm. you can understand the brain anatomy. you can flip the aneurysm and see, you know, if there's a daughter aneurysm. so, it just understands--it makes, first of all, anatomy very exciting. and also it helps in deeper understanding of the anatomy rather than a two-dimensional book. scott: bhavya, i've got about a minute left. i want to squeeze one more question in. there's 22 countries, cameroon i mentioned was one of them. how do you pick where to send this technology and who to interact with? bhavya: that's a great question. we look for local champions. we look for local doctors, or neurologists, or primary care practitioners who are really passionate about improving stroke care. so, then we contact them, and they have to be in a low
resource setting, and working in the rural areas to help the--who needs the care the most. once we get in touch with them, we ask them, "do you want to work with us?" and that's how we decide, you know? scott: and let's not throw this opportunity away 'cause you are a 501(c)(3). if somebody wants to give you some money, i assume they're allowed to. bhavya: yes. scott: how would they go about that? bhavya: you can visit our website, health4theworld.org, and you can donate directly. we are completely volunteered-driven organization and driven by the passion of the volunteers. scott: dr. bhavya rehani is with the charity. thank you for being with us this morning. bhavya: thank you. scott: well, will rising interest rates kill crypto currency? the future of bitcoin when "press:here" continues. ♪ ♪
as a podcast on itunes. scott: welcome back to "press:here." bitcoin just turned ten years old. now, i've spoken about cryptocurrency on this show before, and i'm still not convinced. that said, there are those who take it seriously, and i'm willing to listen. economist and financial analyst robert leshner knows far more about it than i do. he runs compound, a bank for cryptocurrency that actually pays interest. he has some interesting takes from how the fed's action can hurt crypto coins to the future of bitcoin
in the eventual recession. robert, thank you for joining us. i saw you on another television show and you said compound is the protocol built on the ethereum blockchain. if you say that here, i'm going to show you the door, you understand, okay? robert leshner: i'll simplify it. scott: please do. so, not all cryptocurrency is bitcoin, and not all bitcoin--well, all bitcoin i suppose is cryptocurrency. but there are lots of them out there, and you deal with several of them, is that right? robert: that's right. so, bitcoin was the first cryptocurrency, and it just recently celebrated its tenth year anniversary from when the original white paper was published. and in ten years, we've learned as a society a little bit about how a new money supply can work. the idea behind bitcoin is that anybody can transfer value anywhere in the world relatively quickly and relatively cheaply, and it's been successful so far. scott: well, and i want to ask you about that because we have to note that it fell below $6,000 just a couple of days ago. has it been successful in the sense that it has been moving all over the place as far as value? robert: well, it's been successful in that it's proven a concept that people can move money
anywhere in the world very easily. the value of bitcoin is extremely volatile because there's still a tremendous amount of uncertainty about whether it's going to eventually take off as a currency that gets used globally. and i would say it's still very early in the same way that it took 20 years for the internet to be proven out and to become mainstream. we're at the same point in bitcoin's history. jon: didn't marc andreessen, i think he made his prediction, within five years it would be a major form of world currency? that's what i was always wondering about, is it still--there's still a debate over its longer-term future? robert: yeah, there's still a lot of uncertainty. there's people who believe that it's going to become the global currency, and there's people that are skeptical. and there's still a wait and see period that we're in, where it's slowly continuing to gain adoption, and there's a lot of uncertainties left. joseph: so, there are always issues around regulation. i mean, there are big issues around regulation. the initial coin offerings are getting a dim view from
some regulators, who were kind of slow to wake up. if your company is paying interest on this, are you dealing with banking regulators or state financial supervisors? what sort of regulatory interface are you dealing with? robert: yeah, so we're--we've created a open source marketplace on the decentralized ethereum blockchain that participants can interact with directly. as a platform, it's not actually controlled by a company, it's not actually administered by us, which is what makes it very different from traditional organizations. it's actually run autonomously by the ethereum community. scott: robert, you're getting dangerously into--basically, people have to park their cyber coin somewhere. they can park them a lot of places. you'll pay interest on ethereum, which is a type of cyber coin, while they park it there. robert: so, we let people earn interest from other users borrowing their cyber coin. scott: okay, just like a regular bank would. one of the things we talked about was--or i introduced you
with was the fed could increase interest rates, and that could affect cyber currency in what way? robert: so, like any asset, it's susceptible to interest rates. interest rates are the opportunity cost for crypto assets, just like they are for stocks or bonds. and so, in a rising rate environment, crypto assets become less desirable because they're not yet interest-bearing. they're less attractive than the interest rates that are going to be increasing and available to us investors. scott: endless money sloshing around as well to invest into different commodities. robert: that's exactly right. scott: fair enough. jon: do you every worry about volatility of this market, given all the factors like regulation, interest rates, the fact that it fluctuates so wildly? i mean, there was talk of it going down to $5,000. robert: yeah, the volatility is both healthy and unhealthy. the reason why it's healthy is that it's because it allows the community to see a lot of different scenarios, and it enables more price discovery.
the reason why it's unhealthy is it creates too much of a focus on the prices themselves as opposed to what it's actually being used for. there's a lot of teams and businesses building innovative projects with crypto assets, and it's very easy to focus on the prices and not, you know, how it's actually being used. scott: there is--a recession has to come at some point, right? we are ten years from the previous recession. ironically, we're ten years away from the creation of bitcoin, so we've never seen bitcoin in a recession. what does a cybercurrency, and obviously you're going to have to speculate, what does a cybercurrency do in a recession? robert: well, historically crypto has been very uncorrelated to existing financial markets. and i think the same is going to hold even in a recession. i think it's still going to have its own price behavior that's decoupled. and while in a recession, you know, you would expect that most assets are going to suffer, crypto may be an exception. it's just too early to tell. scott: robert leshner is the ceo of compound, which pays interest on ethereum, correct?
hello. and welcome to "communidad del valle." i'm damian trujillo. it's that time again. wreaths across america. kntv presents, "communidad del valle." we begin with world aids day. i have guests here to talk about this. welcome to the show. world aids day. been happening for awhile. we keep celebrating it. >> our city is joining multiple cities around the world. world aids day established in 1988, the height of the hiv/aids epidemic.