To battle the COVID-19, the population is majorly relying on the health care workers. Consequently, interacting with patients suffering from a contagious virus, leaves them as the most vulnerable. 20% of the globally infected cases (1,701) during the SARS coronavirus epidemic in 2003, were health care workers.
While age is a focal risk factor for the COVID-19, health workers of any age are extremely vulnerable. Hazardous consequences of the virus do not limit itself to the individuals infected. The capacity of the health care system is incredibly affected after every case of COVID-19 in a healthcare worker.
Health workers consequently risk exposure to viral particles more than the general public, and can possibly result in worse cases. For this reason, a large number of younger Chinese doctors have died.
Moreover, with the number of patients increasing, protective equipments are facing shortage. Meanwhile, less developed parts of the worlds, have fewer and/or inadequate health care facilities, along with overburdened staff that result in exceptionally high risks. The added stress and long duty hours only increases the vulnerability of the immune systems of health workers. Eventually, hospitals turn into a hub for the transmission of COVID-19.
Numerous doctors in Wuhan died due to the COVID-19, but were the first to raise the alarm, despite being silenced by Chinese authorities.
However, many institutions can fail in providing protection to their health care workers. Two nurses IN Dallas, were infected with Ebola in 2014, and while CDC had claimed it to be a result of breach in protocol, the nurses explained how there were no established protocols in the first place. The CDC repeated this with a Californian nurse who requested a test after developing symptoms of COVID-19 after dealing with an infected patient.
China had insisted that 13 was the number of infected doctors, causing everyone to think that the spread within hospitals could be prevented by the standard protocol and was not a concern – for six weeks.
However, on the day of February 14th, the number had jumped to 1,716 and by February 20th, the World Health Organization had reported 2,055 lab-confirmed COVID-19 cases among health workers only. The estimated number had come up to 3,200 by March 3rd.
On the contrary, Italy had been reporting high rates of infected health care workers. They reported about 8.5 percent of their total infected cases, to be health workers, which would be 20 percent of their health care workforce. Meanwhile in Spain, over 4,000 infected cases had been found in the health care workforce.
Unfortunately, no matter what circumstances, the risk factor, less or more, will always exist for health care workers due to the nature of their job and workplace environment. Performing certain tasks like CPR, intubation, ventilation, and resuscitation, require the worker to maintain less than a safe distance between them and the patient. Hence, the best of circumstances do not exist.
Even today, there is a shortage of N95 masks, gowns, suits, and goggles, causing an increase in risks and uncertainty for the health care workers.
A shortage of staff (either the infected victims or the ones unwilling to take substantial risks) could cause redundancy of perfect supply chains, with more beds, more hospitals etc. Even If health workers were the only one to receive vaccines, it would still lessen the risk of the collapse of the health systems. However, CEO of a vaccine company has told the financiers that a potential vaccine for the COVID-19 is expected to be available to some health workers.
When there will be no doctors to treat, and no nurses to care, the death rates will increase exponentially – from COVID-19 along with the other usual killers.
Here’s Why Tommy Chong is an Active Advocate for Cannabis
Tommy Chong is a well-known face around the world for more than one reason. He is an actor, writer, director, musician, comedian, and most prominently a very famous cannabis advocate. His legalization efforts have continued for a good part of his life and were expressed intently through his music, films, and other creative works.
Starring alongside Richard Cheech in the Grammy Award-winning comedy flick ‘Cheech & Chong‘, Tommy Chang has been quite vocal about his love for marijuana. His stand-up shows with Richard Chee were quite impactful during their time, speaking volumes about their support for the cannabis movement. They were so successful that most of their shows were sold out in the 1970s – a time when the ‘war on drugs’ was at its peak in the entire world.
What Does Tommy Chong Believe About Cannabis Criminalization?
Hailing from immigrant families himself, Chong sternly believes that the war on drugs has its roots in xenophobia.
According to him, “Marijuana prohibition has been a racial law right from the get-go. It followed the path of the Chinese opium law. Britain actually almost ruined China with the opium trade and so America, when they wanted to demonize a race of people, they would outlaw their habits – that’s what prohibition was all about. Prohibition was just basically a racist law.”
If we are to weigh his words and match them with reality, disagreeing with him would be hard. Here’s why:
Up until the early 1800s, there were no federal restrictions on the usage, retail, or possession of marijuana in the U.S. Hemp fiber derived from it was used to make products like clothes, paper, and rope. In addition to this, medicinal usage of the drug was also very common. It might sound ironic, but at the time of its prohibition, tinctures containing cannabis traces were present in probably every medicinal cabinet in the United States. It was used to treat various diseases like malaria, stomach ache and even ‘absentmindedness’.
Why then was cannabis criminalized and banned?
Just as Tommy Chong pointed out, cannabis was prohibited in an attempt to degrade and ‘demonize’ Mexican immigrants.
The early 1900s was a time when thousands of Mexican immigrants began seeking refuge in the United States. While smoking marijuana recreationally was not very common in the U.S, Mexican immigrants were quite fond of this practice.
This was seen as a great opportunity to instill ‘reefer madness’ among the people. Politicians were quick to substitute the term ‘cannabis’ with ‘marihuana’ to make it sound more authentically Mexican in order to create more prejudice. It worked of course. Newspapers were soon labeling Mexican cannabis use as a ‘marijuana menace’. In the words of Harry J. Anslinger, first Commissioner of the Federal Bureau of Narcotics, marijuana caused “insanity, criminality, and death”.
Here is a quote from a New York Times story from 1927:
“A widow and her four children have been driven insane by eating the Marihuana plant, according to doctors, who say that there is no hope of saving the children’s lives and that the mother will be insane for the rest of her life,”
Going Back to the Future With Cannabis
With the increasing recognition of the therapeutic benefits of cannabis and its derivatives, laws surrounding it are slowly relaxing. The racism that has long haunted the drug is also vanishing slowly.
Tommy Chong compares this with the phenomena of going back to the future. He says that with more acceptance of the drug, society is going back to the beginning days. It is returning to days where there was no stigma attached to the drug.
According to him, one of the major challenges now faced by the industry is its federal prohibition. Businesses are unable to obtain finances for the fear of being prosecuted. This has led to a major part of the industry operating on cash transactions creating problems for them as well as regulators. Depending upon cash means that cannabis dispensaries are at the forefront of robberies and burglaries when civil unrest arises.
Cannabis is equally beneficial for the mind and body
Chong is a firm believer in the therapeutic benefits of cannabis. He has made a mention of its religious sacrament and its soothing impact on the mind and body.
“A lot of sports people that I’ve known are big marijuana advocates because it doesn’t tear you down like alcohol does or make you crazy or addicted like cocaine and heroin. So, marijuana is really the perfect stuff for everything including medicine.”
Cannabis reforms in Mexico – Will it join Canada and Uruguay?
The Mexican Senate has finally granted approval to cannabis reforms in the region after stalling the debate for almost two long years.
Earlier this month, senators were circulating a draft bill on the issue in hopes of getting these cannabis reforms moved to the full Senate floor for approval. Luckily for them, a joint hearing session was finally held today after being delayed for months due to the pandemic.
The Senate floor has cast 82 votes in favor of the bill, while 18 votes were cast against it. Moreover, about 7 senators abstained from voicing their opinion on the issue.
Although a big accomplishment for legalization advocates, the bill still has to surpass major hurdles before reforms can be fully implemented. Upon success, these changes will make Mexico the third country to fully legalize adult-use marijuana after Uruguay and Canada.
Many legalization advocates are hoping that lawmakers would now use this opportunity to devise policies that could have positive impacts on society. According to some, this move can be a ‘historic opportunity’ to ‘repair the harms of prohibition’ inflicted upon the residents of the community.
Moving forwards, the legalization bill still has to gain approval from the lower legislative chamber and get signatures from President Andrés Manuel López Obrador. This will only be possible if the President doesn’t have any reservations about the legislatures proposed through the bill and signs it into the law.
Supreme Court issues deadline for cannabis reform implementation
In October of 2019, the Supreme Court had granted an extension to legislators to thoroughly review the issue. When senators were unable to reach a consensus, the new deadline was moved to April 2020. However, due to restrictions on in-person meetings, the process was delayed once again and another extension was granted.
For now, the new deadline set by the Supreme Court is December 15th. Senate President Eduardo Ramirez is hopeful that this time the legislative reforms would be achieved within the due date set by the court.
Cannabis Legalization Efforts in Mexico
The issue of cannabis legalization was brought to light when President Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador assumed office in 2018. According to Senator Olga Sanchez Coredo, the prohibition of marijuana has claimed thousands of lives, fed violence, and magnified poverty in the nation. “We don’t want more deaths. It will be a major contribution to bringing peace to our beloved country.”
This announcement was in line with Supreme Court rulings that lifted the legal ban on the drug. Prohibition of the drug was deemed unconstitutional after this ruling. All other courts had to follow suit because as per Mexican law if the chamber of the Supreme Court has the same ruling on any matter five or more times, the decision becomes a compulsory precedent for all other courts and judges.
Proposals Made in the Cannabis-Reform Bill in Mexico
Although the legislative process has been distraught with a lot of delays, it has made some noticeable progress nonetheless.
Earlier in March, a joint meeting was held between the members of Justice, Health, Legislative Studies, and Public Safety Committees. During this meeting, the Mexican Senate Committees signed off the bill that made the following proposed cannabis reforms:
- There would be separate regulations on THC products that would not be applicable to hemp and CBD.
- Adults 18 or above can possess and cultivate marijuana for personal use. The possession limit is set at 28 grams, although holding up to 200 grams is still decriminalized.
- Public consumption of the drug would be legal, provided it is carried out in completely smoke-free zones.
- These adults will be allowed to grow up to 20 registered plants; provided the cumulative yield stays under 480 grams per year.
- Medical marijuana patients will be allowed to cultivate more than 20 plants upon proper request applications.
- There will be a 12% tax imposed on cannabis sales, with part of the proceeds allocated towards substance abuse treatment.
- The Mexican Institute of Regulation and Control of Cannabis would responsible for moderating and licensing marijuana businesses.
Although the legislative changes depict significant flexibility of law, advocates demand more to be done. One of their major concerns is the high level of penalties that will be imposed on individuals for rule violations. They are also pressing for ensuring equal opportunities in the industry for all.
Are cannabis tours and tasting rooms next up in Canada?
Canada has been quite a progressive country when it comes to legalizing marijuana. It is amongst the very few nations that tolerate both recreational and medicinal usage of the drug in their jurisdiction. Within the country, the percentage of marijuana usage varies greatly between different provinces. A close examination shows that Ontario’s cannabis market is probably the largest out of all the provinces in the country. Next up are Alberta and British Colombia. With varying consumption patterns in these areas, experts have been warning of an upcoming saturation point in the next few years. Therefore, in an attempt to keep the market live and attractive, a recent trend of offering cannabis tours is gaining momentum.
Providing cannabis tours to customers is going to give rise to a unique form of marketing technique known as farm gate marketing. In general, this sort of marketing practice involves the direct sale of products to consumers on the site of production. Even though farm gate marketing has been a very common custom for agricultural products, the cannabis industry has yet to explore the avenue.
From the farm to the table
For those familiar with the touring facilities offered at wineries and breweries the concept of taking a cannabis tour can ignite a great deal of excitement. Having lived the experience before, in a slightly different setting, is relatable nonetheless. Therefore, if Canada is able to provide a wholesome cannabis tour experience, users will have a chance at a memorable experience.
It will allow them to visit facilities and farms, taste the product and interact with it in pretty much the same way as any other farm gate product. For customers who haven’t had any similar opportunities before, the idea of a cannabis tour can be a renewing experience. It can provide an insight into the technologies used by businesses that help in bringing the final product to life. In addition, visitors will be able to see and gauge safety standards, the level of research and development involved, and of course taste the products on site. All of this is going to help customers enjoy the experience rather than just the product
While it will enhance the tourism side for the cannabis industry, the support it will provide to small growers will be phenomenal.
Small growers like Kieley Beaudry, who are struggling to compete in a competitive market are hoping for necessary legislative changes to take place in the market. Co-founder of Parkland Flower Inc, many small-scale businesses like hers are waiting for laws that would eventually permit direct cannabis sales to consumers.
According to her, “The way the players in the craft wine industry have been able to differentiate themselves is through tourism. It’s through being able to create an experience and have people pay for that experience as opposed to just a product. I’d love to see it go that way.”
Brtish Colombia devices legislative changes to support cannabis tours
British Colombia is one of the main provinces that has already started putting legislation in place that could encourage the cannabis tour industry. According to Mike Farnworth, Minister of Public Safety and Solicitor in General in B.C., this is being done to encourage people to buy local.
The province has already set up legislation that will allow growers to directly sell cannabis to customers. The proposed legislations are due to be implemented by 2022.
In addition to benefitting small-scale businesses, the move to offer farmgate stores will also benefit large businesses. Although the magnitude of benefits will not be as huge as it will be for smaller businesses, it will surely be noticeable.
Enhancing Opportunities for the Local Market
As mentioned earlier, Ontario is one of the biggest markets of the cannabis industry within Canada. This is probably the reason why marketers in their industry plan way ahead of their fellow counterparts.
While other provinces are still in the process of picking up a suitable legislative procedure for the farmgate system, Ontario has already finalized one. The framework does come at a cost to LPs however. It requires producers to sell their products to Ontario Cannabis Store and then buy it back at an increased rate.
Last winter, southern Ontario was presented with its first farmgate sales via Brock business professor Michael J. Armstrong at LP production sites.
With these moves already in progress, farmgate sales and cannabis tours are inevitable. Whether or not these will provide tasting rooms is still not very clear.
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