Just over a month and a half ago, we saw the majority of activities across the globe close or shutdown due to the coronavirus that took us all by surprise. The corona pandemic has also hit the cannabis industry with cannabis companies like Canopy Growth closing some of their greenhouses in Canada and downsizing their workforce.
Fake news viral memes doing their rounds online claiming cannabis cures corona! We take a look at the research being conducted around the world on corona and cannabis as well as discuss everything cannabis and COVID-19. In this article, we will dig deeper into all these topics and make it a bit clearer as to exactly is behind all this smokey haze!
Is Cannabis An Essential Service?
Mostly all provincial governments in Canada see cannabis as an essential service during the COVID-19 pandemic. Hundreds of licenses have been issued to cannabis retailers to remain open and serve cannabis consumers nationwide. Its a great move by the government to help society deal with the anxiety people face during self-quarantine and social distancing.
Cannabis Corona Industry News
AFP News: Canadians Stock up on Pot
“Montreal residents wait in line to buy marijuana at a dispensary amid a coronavirus outbreak that has infected nearly 600 people across Canada. Residents say that dealing with stress from the news and having an ample supply while under quarantine are reasons they decided to line up.”
We know cannabis is an important medicine that helps with not just many ailments, conditions and diseases, but may also help with the pandemic, corona. Governments and institutions are researching the potential of cannabis and corona, and many of the preliminary results are rather surprising.
However, in the US, the federal government has taken a different approach and rather looking and funding studies that look into the dangers of corona and cannabis. The National Institute on Drug Abuse ( NIDA ) is accepting grant applications from cannabis users that may be affected by Covid-19. Since COVID is a respiratory disease, there is specific interest in the effects of smoking and vaping cannabis.
FakeNews: Cannabis Cures Corona
Cannabis Cures Corona is a #fakenews meme that has been doing the rounds online through social media channels like Facebook and Instagram recently. There is no evidence to back up and support the statement that cannabis cures corona. There is also no confirmed research at this early stage of the pandemic to even remotely suggest cannabis is a cure for corona.
Although cannabis may not cure corona, it certainly can help with the many problems societies and families are now facing due to the corona pandemic. There are hundreds of peer-reviewed studies confirming cannabis has therapeutic and medicinal properties in general and related to diseases like cancer, arthritis, epilepsy, multiple sclerosis to name a few. From anxiety, stress, sleeping disorders through to pain and inflammation are a few of the benefits of cannabis that may be used in society right now through legal access via dispensaries and pot shops.
The Real Research Behind Cannabis and Corona
It’s still early days in the COVID19 pandemic and many researchers are urgently looking into a vaccine for the virus. Rumours of China having a vaccine are not true and No, Bill Gates does not want to depopulate the world with his vaccine either. And it’s difficult to believe the hype around a natural vegetable juice that is considered locally as the cure to COVID on a small island known as Madagascar, just off the east coast of Africa’s mainland.
Locally in Canada, researchers in Southern Alberta have quickly used cannabis data from previous research exercises to put forward a case for a peer-reviewed paper. Olga and Igor Kovalchuk are researchers based at the University of Lethbridge in Alta. They believe after reviewing their data that certain cannabis extracts help reduce inflammation that is experienced by infected patients. They further suggest that cannabinoids help slow down the virus’s spread by activating similar receptors.
“ She says they started to examine the special proteins or receptors, that the virus hijacks to enter the body, and they’ve now submitted a research paper studying the effects of medical cannabis on COVID-19.”
South Africa has taken a unique approach to the pandemic and its an interesting point of discussion. The government had banned all alcohol and cigarette sales during the lockdown enforced weeks ago. They have even banned rolling papers, as it’s not considered an essential service. The citizens of South Africa have quickly backlashed against the abuse of power and the banning of freedoms in a democratic nation.
“We are currently doing COVID-19 Cannabis research and it’s not a cure but we believe Cannabinoid treatments could “calm” the cytokine storms which is what causes people to progress from mild flu-like symptoms to a critical condition needing ventilation. We are confident that we will be able to initiate a clinical trial still year.” Hennie Venter Project Manager Cannabis Grow at the Vaal University of Technology Science and Technology Park, South Africa.
Researchers at the Israel Institute of Technology are conducting two separate studies on the effects of cannabis and Covid-19. The first study explores the effects of cannabis being administered via inhalation as a treatment for the virus, as well as the impact on the immune system. Compromised immune systems are one of the biggest contributing factors and causes of death related to COVID-19 worldwide and this is the reason cannabis could be such an effective treatment. The second study being conducted by the same researchers on our bodies ACE2 receptor which is the viral pathway to our bodies, even though cannabis interacts with it too.
Every day moving forward countries and researchers will be looking at any compound that will delay, treat or cure this viral corona. Cannabis seems to tick a lot of the boxes when it comes to at least alleviating the symptoms somewhat, but it is still early days and studies still need to be peer-reviewed before any conclusions may be made about cannabis treating corona successfully.
Cannabis, COVID and our Immune System
In the worst cases of Covid-19, the virus not only attacks and destroys the tissue in the lungs but also triggers a massive over-reaction in the immune system. This results in dangerous levels of internal inflammation within the lungs of the patient and often results in death. Many patients at this stage are often not able to breathe on their own and are usually attached to the much in demand ventilator systems. The biggest difference between mild and severe cases is dependant on the patient’s immune system and its response to the infection.
This is where cannabis plays a big role. Cannabinoids connect to both our immune and central nervous systems. This is known as your endocannabinoid system or ECS for short. This system is responsible for important daily functions such as movement, mood, memory, appetite and metabolism. The ECS assists our body in regulating it to maintain a healthy balance, this is known as homeostasis. We must also not forget the very viable natural anti-fungal,anti-bacterial and anti-viral properties of cannabinoids, all being used within the ECS to build, repair and strengthen its cells.
Cannabis connects to receptors throughout our ECS. CB1 is mainly located in our brain region while CB2 receptors are more abundant in our immune systems. The cannabinoids found in cannabis connect and agitate these receptors which serve different functions in the ECS. Cannabinoids found in cannabis could be seen as a supplement to what the body already produces. You see cannabinoids found in cannabis are technically known as phytocannabinoids while cannabinoids naturally produced in the body are known as endocannabinoids.
These cannabinoids in conjunction with other compounds found in cannabis like terpenes and flavonoids produce something that is known as the “entourage effect”. Still not completely understood by scientists the “entourage effect” is when all these compounds work in synergy while producing healthy results in patients.
Risks of Using Cannabis During the Pandemic
Those thinking of increasing their intake of cannabis during this crisis should hold their horses. These early promising cannabis test results should be taken with a grain of salt. In particular, a heavy cannabis smoker is more at risk of infection to corona according to health authorities. Researchers agree about one thing and communities that suffer substance abuse problems with related health conditions will be the hardest hit by the virus. This is because it takes quick advantage of weak immune systems. Because corona attacks the lungs it is an especially serious threat to tobacco, cannabis smokers alike as well as people that vape.
One can clearly see that although cannabis may not be the cure for corona, it is definitely providing relief and relaxation to thousands if not millions of people worldwide. The medical benefits of cannabis seem compatible with the symptoms and effects of people infected with Covid-19.
Cannabis will play a role during and after the Covid-19 pandemic, whether directly or indirectly. If it provides just a little bit of relief through a joint to help you relax or assist with helping you sleep at night, cannabis is still one of the oldest and most widely used treatment at the moment.
Israel Institute of Technology: https://www.labmanager.com/news/could-cannabis-be-an-effective-treatment-for-covid-19-22518