Could it be that something like a pandemic is what ushers Cannabis to its next level of normality, respect, and fairness? Looking at the connection between Covid and Cannabis, it may go deeper than you think. True to the Spirit of the plant – unconditionally generous, compassionate, and inclusive – Cannabis is proving to be a lifesaver during these unprecedented times for a variety of reasons. Cannabis is helping us through these times, from the day to day to the month to month. During the Depression, the things that sold the most were potatoes and vodka. Potatoes proved to be the cheapest way to fill the belly and vodka, the easiest way to numb the pain. When COVID hit, we saw a surge in the cheapest flower sales along with the most affordable hash, which mirrors those conditions of the great Depression. As most Americans went into a time of financial strife and worry, they began purchasing more of the cheapest and most potent cannabis items to “numb the pain” and stretch the dollars. When we were all instructed to stay inside, Cannabis and edibles became a very useful tool. When we think of people’s behavior at a bar consuming alcohol, they are hanging on each other, loud and laughing, making out, and participating in other activities that do not support shelter-in-place protocols. Alcohol also weakens the immune system. However, when people consume Cannabis, especially in the way of an edible, it allows them to sit back, enjoy a movie or some music, and even enjoy sheltering in place. Cannabis is extremely helpful during these times in that it actually mellows people out and helps them get rest. Our ECS (Endocannabinoid Receptor System) also governs our immune system, and certain studies point to it helping our immune system, in contrast to alcohol which is proven to weaken the immune system.
Since Cannabis is federally illegal in the United States, we usually look to other countries like Spain or Israel for real data, as we are not legally allowed to perform studies on Cannabis here in the US. As
usual, information is extremely limited and obviously takes time. Because COVID is such a recent occurrence studies are being conducted as we speak. Worth referencing and noting is one study of people with compromised immune systems from the University of Miami. The university, in partnership with Pathway RX, Swysh, Inc, and the University of Lethbridge in Alberta, Canada, found that certain cannabis sativa extracts could be used in treatments to prevent infection with SARS-CoV-2 (the virus that causes COVID-19). They found that the extracts affect the expression of ACE2 & TMPRSS2, which are proteins found in human cells that research has shown to be the entry point for the virus (clinicallabmanager.com). Although the findings need more research, it is a beginning and offers hope on one more truly valuable therapeutic offering of the Cannabis plant. Much more research must be done but scientists are suggesting by using Cannabis even as a throat gargle or mouthwash, it can be helpful in preventing COVID-19 (clinicallabmanager.com). “Specifically cannabinoids that lock and key with CB2R, a type of Cannabinoid receptor, have shown promise for reducing the acute inflammatory response in experimental sepsis and some of these could be useful in patients with SARS-CoV-2 infection,” the company Tetra Bio Pharma reported. Similar research and findings have been recently discovered in Israel with the company InnoCan Pharms Ltd finding that when CBD is inhaled it releases exosomes, which are small particles created when stem cells are multiplied. These exosomes act as “‘homing missiles’ targeting specific damage to organs and have an important role to play in cell to cell communication. When the cell healing properties of the exosomes are combined with anti- inflammatory properties of CBD it is expected to reach high synergetic effect” (clinicallabmanager.com). These studies follow other studies conducted in 2003 with the SARS outbreak as well as 2007 in China.
As well as relieving pain and helping us eat, sleep, and feel good, this research seems to point out that Cannabis can help us on a much deeper level by getting to the root of the problem and preventing the virus from making its way into our system. Of course more research must be done and only time will tell, but these findings are extremely promising and optimistic. If Cannabis is already making us feel good and enhancing our life under the current conditions, why not treat it like a super food to enhance the immune system as well? Taking it one step further, how about combining Cannabis with other nutrient dense ingredients that have immunity boosting properties as well as antibiotic properties like raw honey, elderberry, echinacea, vitamin C, leafy greens, and more.
It is helpful to consider that full health and high functioning immune systems might be a combination of many different actions combined into one lifestyle. By omitting harmful chemicals like hydrogenated oils and other processed foods as well as commercial nicotine and heavy alcohol consumption, one’s health can be improved significantly just by omission. Eating organic fresh produce that is naturally bright in color, having balanced meals, 20 minutes of movement per day (even if it’s just a slow walk or stretching), vitamin D through diet and the sun, adequate hydration and water, foods and vitamins that support immune system, healthy daily practices like meditation and other joy promoting activities, as well as, of course Cannabis. Our ECS governs our most vital human functions, of which our immune system is one. Keeping our ECS saturated is a way to keep our immune system functioning at its highest level. Many people come to healthcare providers wondering why they are sick when they are not exercising or eating properly. Just engaging in a few health promoting activities is enough to bring your quality-of-life up significantly.
I can only speak from my personal experience when I say I cannot imagine life without Cannabis let alone a shelter in place due to a pandemic. The stress levels on humanity are at an all-time high and people have been instructed to stay inside. There is no other more healthy tool or superfood than Cannabis to promote this activity. Especially edibles and tinctures which saturate our vital organs in a systemic way because we ingest them. When Cannabis is ingested either by eating or even by asuppository, sublingual, or cannabis bath, a much more sedating effect is experienced. All edibles and ingestibles lead to more of an ‘Indica’ effect because when Delta-9 THC enters the liver it is converted to Delta-11 THC. Delta-11 THC is a very sedative cannabinoid that is only found when the body converts it in the liver and is not found naturally in the plant.
Another silver lining for Cannabis during these times is that our “federally illegal” plant was deemed essential in California and other legal states during the pandemic. Anybody who works in Cannabis or is a long time consumer understands the stigma involved with Cannabis use. When Cannabis was deemed essential, in my opinion it changed the way Cannabis is and will be viewed and perceived forever. Already challenged businesses were forced to pivot in a whole new way to cater to our new reality. Businesses remained open, employees kept their jobs, manufacturers and cultivators kept producing, and the people had safe access to their Cannabis. What a relief considering no Cannabis business would be eligible for any type of federal relief as we are still considered federally illegal. If we were not deemed essential it would have truly wiped out the Cannabis industry as a whole, starting with independent businesses. What a waking moment to actually be given a little bit of space and respect to be a real businesses. What a relief to medical and recreational consumers statewide to have safe and consistent access to the tools that help us shelter in place and pass through these trying times for humanity.
We must take this time to thank the activists who worked so hard to lobby this reality for us. Without them we would not have been deemed essential and our voices would not have been heard. History has been changed forever and Cannabis has now seen a new light. Only the future will tell how much data will prove that Cannabis is in fact a superfood and a nutrient dense gift for all mammals to enjoy. Prohibitions are powerful and so is misinformation. Remember that we have more than 200 receptors for this plant all over our body beginning under our tongue and in our mouths. When looking at the hazards and downsides of cannabis, it is more dangerous to consume Cannabis that has been sprayed with chemicals than it is to consume cannabis itself. It is not the Cannabinoids that are dangerous but some of the practices associated with it. For example, a joint burns at 1200° while we usually vaporize around 400° and most dabs are taken between 5 and 600°. If you are sourcing clean cannabis that passes pesticide and mold tests, the negative effects disappear which is one of the reasons that safe and consistent access is so crucial as well as education. Edibles, tinctures, and topicals are great ways to enjoy the benefits of Cannabis without inhalation.
So what is the conclusion? As usual more research must be done. But the research that has been done is extremely promising. Let us all listen to our own intuition and find our own connection to this plant. The high is a side effect that is desired by many but not by all. Some people are candidates for lifelong CBD or topical use and that is perfectly amazing. Other people love large amounts of THC and our needs may switch and shift throughout time as we are fluid individuals. This beautiful plant also can shift and flow with us over time and adjust to our wants and desires. Make sure you are sourcing quality clean cannabis that is grown with organic practices and enjoy Cannabis as a superfood, something that we keep saturated in our body every day so things like our immune system, appetite, mood, and digestion can always function at the optimal level.
Maya Elisabeth, the founder of Om Edibles since 2008, has won seven High Times Cannabis Cup awards, and enjoys a growing reputation as one of the best creators of medical cannabis products in California. Om Edibles™ is an all-female run company dedicated to providing the highest quality of Cannabis products to legal patients and people ages 21 and up in California.