COVID-19 pandemic response elevates cannabis to mainstream
Dozens of states including California designated licensed cannabis providers as an “essential service” during stay-at-home mandates. Photo by Anne Wernikoff for CalMatter
By Paul Armentano, Special to CalMatters
How Cannabis Might be Able to Help You During COVID-19 or Any Pandemic
We know what you’re thinking: “Another damn article on this damned pandemic.” Like it or not, COVID-19, aka, the Coronavirus, is THE biggest publicized issue in the world right now. Ultimately, there will be millions of cases, and sadly, hundreds of thousands of deaths, or more.
It will have a devastating impact on lives, families, and society as a whole. Unfortunately, it will also prove a breeding ground for con men who will multiply almost as fast as the virus. Prepare to read a lot of unsubstantiated nonsense on what can ‘cure’ COVID-19. Expect to see charlatans selling ‘miracle’ creams and potions.
IGNORE IT ALL!!!
You will also read articles from people claiming that cannabis, hemp, THC, CBD, and other cannabinoids will help with COVID-19. Indeed, the title of this very article suggests that we’re about to jump on the bandwagon.
Trust us; we are not!
Instead, we will focus on how weed can help you in other ways. Perhaps the herb can help you relax and not freak out about the pandemic. Maybe the process of keeping calm will ensure your immune system stays healthy enough to combat the effects of the Coronavirus if you get it. There is even the possibility of cannabis providing jobs working remotely. It is potentially a case of ‘finding opportunity in crisis.’
What we won’t do is follow the lamentable path of other, less reputable websites. We won’t make promises or claims based on scanty or non-existent evidence. So, let’s tackle the major query first.
Can Marijuana or CBD Help Prevent, Treat, or Cure COVID-19?
Let’s not waste any time: The answer is NO! Ignore every single thing that suggests otherwise. There is absolutely no evidence of this whatsoever! How could there be? COVID-19 has only come along to ruin our lives recently. There is no available vaccine, and we must likely wait until 2021 for one. We hope that an antiviral will come along this year to help ease the burden on our healthcare systems.
Scientists simply haven’t had enough time to research any possible ways to alleviate the Coronavirus. This is sadly why COVID-19 cases and fatalities attributed to the virus continue to grow. There are thousands of studies that show promise regarding marijuana and other medical conditions. However, there are relatively few clinical studies.
Bear in mind that research, however limited, on cannabis has been ongoing for decades. Research into any solutions to the Coronavirus puzzle is a couple of months old. Indeed, it is incredibly unlikely that any scientific research worthy of the name will occur regarding cannabis and COVID-19.
Think about it: Researchers find it hard enough to attain funding for any form of marijuana research. Why on Earth anyone thinks this will change during a global emergency is a mystery. Practically all COVID-19 research will involve searching for faster and more effective testing, finding an antiviral, and of course, creating a vaccine.
At WayofLeaf, we firmly believe that cannabis can help an awful lot of people. However, when it comes to the Coronavirus, we must allow the best scientific minds in the world to find the answers we desperately need. Cannabis will NOT be that answer.
Beware of Scammers
NORML has already confirmed our fears about COVID con artists. America’s oldest marijuana reform organization has warned consumers about duplicitous companies looking to profit from the crisis. These despicable companies have polluted the internet with dangerous misinformation and lies.
Most notably, the notion that cannabis, and especially CBD, can help cure or protect against the Coronavirus. These brands send emails and publish nonsense on websites where they sell snake oil. They tend to target marijuana consumers in a pitiful attempt to make money from suffering.
The FDA has already sent warning letters regarding medical claims attributed to cannabis, hemp, and CBD. The government agency must now work overtime to clamp down on scammers. Once again, neither cannabis nor hemp is proven to help with any symptoms attributed to COVID-19. If you use either plant, don’t expect it to help with the virus. There is simply no scientific evidence to suggest it.
Here’s What Cannabis Users Should Do Regarding COVID-19
The Brexit campaign resulted in Britain leaving the European Union. It was a fractious affair with misinformation, lies, and propaganda, greatly exceeding useful information and truth. During one risible interview, pro-Brexit Michael Gove, the current Minister for the Cabinet Office, made a startling claim. Gove suggested that “people have had enough of experts.”
In one throwaway line, he effectively dismissed the expertise of countless people who have dedicated years to a field of research. Amusingly, Gove is among those to have performed a volte-face during the COVID-19. Now, it is ‘imperative’ to listen to healthcare professionals. At least they got that right!
Michael Backes is one of the top cannabis pharmacology minds in the United States. He is an expert on marijuana. As such, he has some vital information for weed users. According to Backes, you should give your cannabinoid receptors a little break by abstaining from weed for a few days.
He suggests that smoking the herb, in particular, slows down your first line of defense against any virus. Backes also said that when the body gets a virus, it immediately introduces interferons locally. Smoking cannabis slows down this necessary response because THC is immunosuppressive.
In general, it is wise for marijuana users not to share joints, bongs, or blunts. We all love the camaraderie involved when we ‘puff, puff, pass.’ However, COVID-19 is exceptionally contagious. Therefore, passing around a joint is not a sensible plan. If one person has the virus, everyone in the group could get it.
Marijuana & Anxiety
There’s no question that this virus has caused anxiety to tens of millions of people. The exact number of cases is unknown, so the mortality rate of COVID-19 remains a mystery. It is likely going to be below what was initially feared. Nonetheless, this is little comfort for those who have lost friends or family members to the virus.
Its symptoms seem to disproportionately cause harm to the elderly and individuals with underlying symptoms. This revelation has led to some abhorrently selfish behavior. View the spectacle of young adults partying during Spring Break as an example. Interviews with these individuals revealed that they were only thinking of themselves. Yes, a young, healthy adult likely won’t suffer, but they could pass the virus on to a more vulnerable person. Also, there are now a handful of reports of youths with no underlying conditions dying from the illness.
Cannabis won’t cure, treat, or prevent the Coronavirus. However, it could help alleviate the anxiety you feel. A study by Cutler et al., published in the Journal of Affective Disorders in August 2018, looked into the issue. The researchers analyzed data from the Strainprint app. They looked at almost 12,000 tracked sessions. Approximately 3,100 for depression, 5,100 for anxiety, and 3,700 for stress.
MMJ users perceived a 58% reduction in anxiety and stress and a 50% reduction in depression. Those who suffered from anxiety found that two puffs of a joint were enough to feel a positive change. The users tried high CBD (9.5%), low THC (5.5%) and high THC (26.5%) and high CBD (11%) strains. The former was preferred by those with depression, while patients with stress and anxiety liked the latter.
Weed Is Potentially a ‘Chill Pill’
If you choose cannabis for anxiety during this crisis, keep the THC to CBD ratio low. There is ample evidence to suggest that excessively high THC consumption can increase anxiety. The Cutler study also found that cannabis use for depression could exacerbate the condition over time. Interestingly, females benefitted from a more significant reduction in anxiety from weed use than males.
The use of marijuana to help with stress and anxiety goes back millennia in all likelihood. Research into the practice is also decades old. In 1986, Johnston and O’Malley found that 72% of daily cannabis users consumed the herb to relieve tension or relax. In June 2016, Sexton et al. published a study in Cannabis and Cannabinoid Research. The researchers found that the following were the most frequently reported conditions. The percentage relates to the proportion of people who used MMJ for that issue:
- Pain: 2%
- Anxiety: 1%
- Depression: 3%
- Headache Migraine: 5%
- Nausea: 4%
- Muscle Spasticity: 4%
A growing number of MMJ programs allow the use of cannabis for anxiety, though it is far from universal. Those who live in adult-use states have no such issues. Therefore, you may find some solace in using cannabis during the COVID crisis. If you feel anxious or stressed out, a couple of puffs of a mid-THC, mid-CBD strength strain could help.RELATED ARTICLEThe Best 1:1 THC to CBD Cannabis StrainsThe best balanced strains at your fingertips
It’s the Economy, Stupid!
At present, the majority of investors are feeling foolish. Stock markets around the world were utterly destroyed as the severity of the Coronavirus became known. On March 16, 2020, the Dow Jones lost 2,997 points in a single day, an unwanted all-time record. Indeed, the six largest points drops ever all came due to the COVID pandemic.
The markets have ‘recovered’ slightly, primarily due to a ridiculous level of Quantitative Easing. For those who don’t know what that means, let us explain. QE is the process of printing money and introducing it into the existing supply. In this instance, the United States has decided to keep the printing machine rolling. It will have a phantom effect and ultimately cause economic chaos due to inflation. We may possibly see hyperinflation due to the current fiasco.
Countless businesses are shutting down, and millions of people around the world are now unemployed because of the Coronavirus. What it may do is provide an opportunity for people capable of working from home. We anticipate a rise in remote working roles in the near future. Whether they will prove lucrative to more than a small percentage of people is another matter.
What About Cannabis?
The marijuana industry is also affected by COVID-19, but is likely to weather the storm for the following reasons:
- An unstable medical system may lead to more investment in cannabis.
- In many states, dispensaries are classified as ‘essential’ businesses and are staying open. This is excellent news for the future.
- Small-business spending is decreasing as entrepreneurs brace themselves for an economic hit. The growth in anxious individuals seeking MMJ for assistance is inevitable.
- Investors may look towards the cannabis market as a safer place to invest than many other industries.
- Marijuana suppliers and dispensaries are coming up with innovative ways to overcome supply-chain disruption.
- The global travel ban won’t hurt an industry that is classified as ‘hyper-local.’
- Job losses in the cannabis industry as a whole will likely be below average.
- The stimulus legislation has deferred payments for various forms of tax. This will help significantly with cash flow issues.
- Organizations such as WayofLeaf can continue hiring talented staff to work from home.
Final Thoughts on Marijuana and COVID-19
Hopefully, we didn’t scare you away with the title, and that you read to the end! The Coronavirus is causing chaos, and the impact will be far-reaching. People will sadly die, and others will have severe lung damages that cause them issues for the rest of their lives. Businesses will close, jobs will be lost, and the economy will crumble. A considerable number of people will fall into unmanageable debt and end up homeless. An exacerbation in mental health issues will undoubtedly see an increase in cases of depression.
The above are the unmistakable effects of a catastrophe the world hasn’t seen since World War II. Unscrupulous, immoral companies will try to make money amidst the chaos. One such ‘trick’ is to claim that cannabis or hemp can cure COVID-19. There is no evidence of it, and we likely won’t uncover any.
However, cannabis could help you during this dark time in many other ways. Perhaps it will help alleviate anxiety and enable you to reduce your understandable stress levels. It may even provide you with an unexpected employment opportunity.