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Natural Remedies 

A new conference looks at how plant-based medicines can relieve pain, reduce PTSD and treat other ailments

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Trying to find out more about natural healing through cannabis and psychedelics, but unsure about the accuracy of online information? Fear not, there's a natural medicine conference coming to answer all your questions.

The inaugural AZ Plant Medicine Conference is coming to the Tucson Convention Center Dec. 6 through Dec. 8. The conference will feature discussions by alternative medicine professionals who treat issues ranging from anxiety and depression to glaucoma and arthritis with psychedelics, cannabis, CBD and more. The convention will also feature a vendor fair with non-medicated edible samples, CBD samples and information on various psychedelic treatments on Friday, Dec. 6, and Sunday, Dec. 8, only.

"This conference is for people that are curious but might be intimidated about these topics," said event organizer Dan Horner. "The point of this is so we can have a real discussion for people interested in learning more about alternative healing."

Speakers will be discussing various mental and physical treatments with cannabis, CBD, ayahuasca, peyote, mushrooms, MDMA, DMT, ketamine...to name a few. Conversations with Dr. Sue Sisley, director of Scottsdale Research Institute and one of the nation's leading researchers on cannabis as medicinal treatment, along with Dr. Joe Tafur, researcher and advocate for ayahuasca healing therapy, are highly anticipated, said Horner.

"I'm looking forward to Dr. Joe Tafur from Phoenix, who has been traveling to Peru to study ayahuasca shamanism for over a decade," Horner said. "He's seen tons of healing western medicine can't do much for."

Rick Doblin, founder of Multi-Disciplinary Association of Psychedelic Studies (MAPS) is expected to give a discussion via Skype on the benefits of MDMA for mental health treatment. Doblin's research has helped MDMA get closer to being approved by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) to be prescribed by a psychiatrist.

"The body of research is really growing," Horner said. "People are getting a lot of benefits from (plant medicine) and research is starting to back up what indigenous people have known for a long time."

Horner expects people from all walks of life to attend the conference due to the legalization of medicinal cannabis in Arizona and decriminalization of certain psychedelics across the nation.

"This isn't going to be a bunch of hippies talking about drugs they've done," said Horner. "Let's broaden this conversation to retirees in Oro Valley and folks who have experienced trauma and are getting through it."

Trinity Houk, coordinator of medical cannabis and CBD vendors for the conference's vendor fair, says her focus has been on education to help dispel the stigma associated with cannabis and psychedelics.

"Even some (cannabis/CBD) vendors didn't want to be advertised on the flyers," Houk said. "I had to explain the focus was going to be on education and treatment, not getting high."

Houk says there will be several medical marijuana doctors at the fair to answer questions and get those who qualify registered for an MMJ card.

"There are a lot of people who want to get their medical marijuana card but don't know how or if they qualify," Houk said. "We're just trying to provide information and education."

Many of the medicinal cannabis vendors will be distributing free, non-medicated samples of baked goods and candies as well as CBD products, according to Houk.

"We're expecting lines like I saw at the Southwest Cannabis Conference last year in Phoenix," said Houk, who also helped organize that event.

In addition to medical cannabis education and CBD vendors, the fair will also include booths from the Ketamine Wellness Center and various psychedelic and shamanic retreats operating in Mexico.

Around 40 million Americans are affected by anxiety disorders each year with 7.7 million Americans suffering from post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), according to the Anxiety and Depression Association of America.

The 2018 Pima County Community Health Assessment reports 13.5 percent of the Pima County Medicaid population was treated for depression in 2015. The local assessment also identified new mental health issue trends emerging in veterans who have experienced mental and physical trauma and the elderly.

"If people are having ailments that they can't fix with traditional medicine, this is a great place to come," Horner said. "If they're not able to get past their PTSD or depression, this is definitely where you want to be."

The conference begins Friday, Dec. 6 through Dec. 8 from 9:30a.m. to 6:00 p.m. daily. Tickets for Friday and Sunday's vendor fair are $5 and conference tickets range from $15 to $90. For more information and daily schedule check out plantmedicineconference.com.

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