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Donald Land

The Power List 2021 – Analytical Heroes

Professor of Chemistry, Forensic Science, and Biotechnology, University of California, Davis; Chief Scientific Consultant, Steep Hill; Consultant, Front Range Biosciences; Expert Witness in Controlled Substances, California, USA; Chief Scientific Consultant, Pure Jamaican

Unexpected career turn: When initially approached to help set up a cannabis testing laboratory, I had limited understanding of the medicinal value. Shortly after we opened Halent Labs, a parent of a young child with Dravet’s syndrome taught me that it could be life-saving – and told me how charlatans would deceive desperate parents (for example, substituting high-THC for high-CBD cannabis oil). I understood then how important it is to have access to reliable test results. It transformed me from an anonymous scientist into a very public advocate and activist for legal access to safe cannabis. At Steep Hill, we had a slogan: “true activism is a science.”

Lessons learned: People in positions of authority and power lie and cheat more than one would hope and the triumphs of truth require great perseverance.

Dream dinner party guests: Louis Pasteur, Jonas Saulk, and Anthony Fauci.

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