The global pandemic has taken a toll on people’s mental health. Adding to the fear of contracting the COVID-19, people have also been stressed over job insecurity, being separated from their loved ones, and adjusting to a new lifestyle. Facing new realities of telecommuting, homeschooling, and the lack of staying indoors most of the time, people have become inventive in coping with stress and mental exhaustion. While others turn to develop hobbies, some turn to cannabis to de-stress and blow off some steam.
Increased Cannabis Consumption during Pandemic
The growing number of countries that legalize marijuana has encouraged people to smoke weed recreationally. More so, regular cannabis users are consuming more frequently. Cannabis Center of Excellence and UMass Dartmouth’s surveyed 346 people. The study showed that 49% use more cannabis since the pandemic began. Respondents shared that cannabis helps deal with mental issues such as anxiety and depression as well as chronic and severe pain. From those surveyed, 7% revealed they contracted the virus, while 12% had manifested the symptoms. Over 60% shared feeling worried about getting the virus and 36% feeling anxious about losing their job. In a separate study, more than one-third of Canadians who are cannabis users have upped their consumption during the pandemic.
According to a new Statistics Canada report, 34% of those who had previously consumed marijuana has shared they increased their usage during the pandemic. They revealed that stress, boredom, and loneliness were among the reasons they increased their usage. More so, they also shared that convenience, ease of access and declining health conditions have also led to increased consumption. Sales of regulated cannabis have increased by 120% last year compared to the sales in 2019.
The Risk of Cannabis Consumption during the Covid 19 pandemic
According to the American Lung Association chief medical officer, marijuana users are exposing themselves to possible Covid 19 complications. Even smoking occasionally can improve the risk of complications from Covid-19. Regular marijuana smoking can damage the lungs over time. The lungs could look like having chronic bronchitis, AKA Chronic Obstructive Lung Disease or COPD. It may be hard for the doctor to diagnose your symptoms, especially when you cough from cannabis smoking. Since dry cough is one of the Covid-19 symptoms, any cough could be attributed to Covid-19, making it hard to diagnose. More so, people with COPD, lung diseases and asthma are more vulnerable to experiencing severe illness from Covid-19.
Can cannabis help treat COVID-19?
Although it’s been said that marijuana users are more vulnerable to the risk of Covid-19, scientists have explored the possibility of cannabis in treating the virus. It is important to note that cannabinoids found in cannabis can either help or harm Covid-19 patients depending on the stage of the disease. Patients should have an immune response to fight the virus in its early stages. For patients in the late stages of Covid-19, they develop a cytokine storm. Cytokine storm is when the body goes through an extreme surge in proinflammatory cytokines. A type of cannabis called
C.Sativa was found to reduce multiple cytokines and pathways connected to inflammation and fibrosis. The cannabinoid-prompted bronchial enlargement along with the endocannabinoids found in the respiratory system suggest a potential therapeutic effect in treating respiratory diseases including Covid-19. In the study conducted, CBD showed partial or total reversal of the lung damage including scarring, swelling, and tissue overgrowth. Consequently, whole-plant cannabis extracts have also been found to minimize blood coagulation in animals. Cannabis may be useful in managing altered blood coagulation as part of the Covid-19 symptoms. The pain-relieving and anxiety reduction therapeutic properties of cannabis can also help Covid-19 patients cope with the virus.
Cannabis has therapeutic properties that could potentially help Covid-19 patients cope with the virus. However, further research is still needed to support cannabis’ role in treating coronavirus.