Spring Edition “Weed to the Wise”: Medical Cannabis & COVID-19



Welcome to the Memorial Day edition of the curated GRASS FOR GEEZERS  PLAYBOOK! This edition will focus on cannabis and the COVID-19 pandemic. Despite some recent headlines in the news, cannabis cannot cure or prevent COVID-19 (as far as we know). However, its proven application of micro-doses to decrease anxiety and inflammation, are well documented and can still be helpful in our COVID lives. At the same time, there are emerging studies worth being informed about. We know cannabis is anti-pest, anti-bacterial, and supposedly has anti-viral qualities. So what are scientists currently focused on? This edition provides a summary of the most recent reports from around the globe. 

Above: CDC image of an isolate from the first case of COVID-19 in the United States. The viral particles are colored blue.

EMERGING MEDICAL CANNABIS RESEARCH: COVID-19

ASIA

• Can marijuana cure COVID-19?  Dr. Philip S. Chua.

No, at this time, there is no known drug or substance that can cure or prevent COVID-19 infection. Various anti-viral drugs and potential vaccines are currently being tested. Remdesivir intravenous anti-viral treatment – 140,000 rounds might be available by the end of May 2020 and about one million rounds by the end of this year – could be a game changer in this pandemic. The popular heart-burn medication, famotidine (as in Pepcid), is being studied as a potential drug useful in the treatment of COVID-19. HydroxyChloroquine-Azithroymcin combo has not been proven to be fully effective against COVID-19 and found to have a potentially fatal cardiac rhythm side-effect, among others.” Article in the Asian Journal.

EUROPE

• Navigating COVID-19 in the Cannabis Industry, Hannah Deacon.

“Several laboratory studies indicate that cannabinoid compounds – in particular, cannabidiol (CBD) and tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) – are immunosuppressant and may have anti-viral effects. The interplay between cannabinoids and the immune system is intricate, adaptive, and bidirectional. The International Association for Cannabinoid Medicine (IACM), based in Germany, issued a statement on the COVID-19 pandemic saying, “there is no evidence that individual cannabinoids or cannabis preparations protect against infection … or could be used to treat COVID-19”. Clinical trials have been launched in Israel to explore whether CBD’s anti-inflammatory properties can be an effective COVID-19 treatment. Until this has been clinically proven, cannabis businesses must not make unsubstantiated claims.” Article on Health Europa.

ISRAEL

• Research into Medicinal Cannabis for Treatment of Coronavirus, Ananda Developments PLC.

“Dr Dedi Meiri, based at The Technion in Israel, and widely regarded as one of the world’s foremost cannabis scientists…has now commenced a new project to assess whether the anti-inflammatory and anti-viral properties of medicinal cannabis have benefits as a preventative measure and treatment for Covid-19 (and similar diseases). His lab’s research will be focused on four aspects of the potential of cannabis to dampen the hyperinflammatory response, involving the ‘cytokine storm’ (proteins released by cells to coordinate the body’s immune response against infection), to the Covid-19 virus which is believed to cause much of the tissue damage as well as pulmonary edema, fever, and in severe cases ARDS (Acute Respiratory Distress Syndrome), septic shock and eventually multiple organ dysfunction.” Article on Pharmiweb.

• Scientists Investigate Cannabis Terpenes as Possible COVID-19 Treatment, Tibi Puiu.

“In the context of the coronavirus crisis, researchers at the Israel Institute of Technology are testing the therapeutic potential of cannabis terpenes. During previous severe coronavirus outbreaks, such as those caused by the SARS coronavirus in 2002-2003, researchers found that cannabis terpenes reduced disease severity and impact in both in-vitro and in-vivo. In a 2007 study published in the Journal of Medical Chemistry, Chinese scientists concluded that the terpenes blocked a certain protein that allows the virus to replicate its genetic material. Meiri and colleagues hope that the terpenes might modulate the effect of cytokine storms –– the overreaction of the body’s immune system that can cause complications and multiple organ failure. The novel formulation is designed to be administered by direct inhalation.” Article on ZME Science.

Other related research in Israel is ongoing at the Ichilov Medical Center in Tel Aviv, Tel Aviv University, and the Technion Institute of Technology in Haifa.

CANADA

• Coronavirus: The Tide is Coming for Medicinal Cannabis, Zulfikar Abbany.

“The coronavirus needs a ‘receptor’ to enter a human host. That receptor is known as an ‘angiotensin-converting enzyme II,’ or ACE2. ACE2 is found in lung tissue, in oral and nasal mucus, in the kidneys, testes, and gastrointestinal tracts…And the theory is that by modulating ACE2 levels in those ‘gateways’ to the human host, it may be possible to lower our susceptibility, or vulnerability, to the virus. It could basically reduce our risk of infection…The Alberta-based researchers, meanwhile, have focused on strains of the plant, Cannabis sativa, that are high in an anti-inflammatory cannabinoid, cannabidiol (CBD) — one of the other main chemicals in cannabis, aside from THC. They have developed more than 800 new Cannabis sativa variants, with high levels of CBD, and identified 13 extracts which they say modulate ACE2 levels in those humans gateways.” Article on Eco Watch.

• Cannabis Shows Promise Blocking Coronavirus Infection: Alberta Researcher, Bill Kaufmann.

“After sifting through 400 cannabis strains, researchers at the University of Lethbridge are concentrating on about a dozen that show promising results in ensuring less fertile ground for the potentially lethal virus to take root, said biological scientist Dr. Igor Kovalchuk. ‘A number of them have reduced the number of these (virus) receptors by 73 per cent, the chance of it getting in is much lower,’ said Kovalchuk. ‘If they can reduce the number of receptors, there’s much less chance of getting infected.’ Employing cannabis sativa strains over the past three months, the researcher said the effective balance between cannabis components THC and CBD—the latter more typically associated with medical use—is still unclear in blocking the novel coronavirus.” Article on the Calgary Herald.

MISCELLANEOUS LINKS

• Roots of the marijuana plant have powerful anti-inflammatory qualities. Marijuana Could Prevent COVID-19 Infections. Article on Explica.

• Summary of good and bad news. Here’s the Latest Good (and Bad) News About the Coronavirus, Eric Levitz. Article on New York Magazine.

The good:

  1. People who recover and then test positive again don’t appear to be infectious.
  2. People who recovered from SARS had neutralizing antibodies for years.
  3. SARS antibodies appear to inhibit COVID-19.
  4. First trial of a vaccine (by Moderna, n=8) triggered an immune response with no side effects.
  5. Cases in US are declining.
  6. Fatality projections through August 2020 cut.
  7. Masks seem to help a lot.
  8. Dogs don’t need masks.
  9. Infection and hospitalization may only have a temporary impact on your mental health.
  10. Vitamin D may help prevent your immune system from overreacting.

The bad:

  1. Herd immunity is probably far off in the future.
  2. COVID-19’s fatality rate may be 13 times higher than the seasonal flu’s.
  3. Social distancing by six feet might not be enough in some situations.
  4. Infected people can contaminate others before showing symptoms.
  5. There is an unusually high rate of kidney problems in those hospitalized in NYC.
  6. COVID appears to cause serious cardiovascular problems. Remdesivir and hydroxychloroquine might make these worse.
  7. Warmer weather this summer won’t save us (we have no immunity).
  8. Infected kids might spread the virus at the same level as adults.
  9. Airborne, virus bearing droplets can hang in the air for up to 14 minutes.
  10. The reports of weed stopping infection are greatly exaggerated. (This said, I am aware of small-scale human trials that indicate vaping bud may be an effective treatment for some pandemic-related ailments, such as cabin fever and “being only halfway through Tiger King and already bored.” Ha!)

 

LIVING WELL: SELF-CARE DURING the COVID-19 CHAOS

• Eight Powerful Phrases Leaders Need to Say in a Time of Crisis, Josh Steimle. Article on Entrepreneur Magazine.

  1. You are understood.
  2. You are safe.
  3. You are remembered.
  4. It will work out.
  5. Here are the facts.
  6. Here’s the plan.
  7. Good will come of this.
  8. You are loved.

Live for Your Eulogy, not Your Obituary, Emily McDermott.

“If an obituary tells people that you lived, a eulogy tells them how well. The purpose of a eulogy is to share memories, stories, qualities, quirks, and characteristics of the deceased. How did the person impact others? What will be missed about them? What is their legacy?” “Most of the time, a eulogy is written by a loved one after someone’s death. I have found, however, that writing your own eulogy is a powerful exercise in intentional living. By writing down what you want people to say about you at the end of your life, you are reverse engineering your current life so you can live in alignment with what is most important.” Article on N/S.

How to Design your Post COVID Life, Stephanie Vozza.

Maybe you discovered over the last couple of months that you aren’t interested in going ‘vertical’ at work. The suggestion here isn’t to find balance or even integrate all of your competing interests, but to think like a curator in a museum; What are the works you want to focus on? Are there any fakes? Which ones go in a side gallery? What should be eliminated? Consider yourself “Composing a Further Life” as Mary Catherine Bateson suggests in her book by the same name. Article on Fast Company.

Hope, Trust, and Truth: How the Pandemic Will Change Us, Jonathan Haidt and David Brooks. Interview on Aspen Ideas Now.

Stay safe out there!

 

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