Cannabis sales increase across US and Canada as lockdown continues. The population rushes to stockpile cannabis to prepare itself for the long period of self-isolation, due to the spread of the COVID-19 pandemic.
Between the time period of March 16 and March 22, key US markets, including California, Colorado, Oregon, and Alaska, experienced a 50 percent rise in sales of recreational cannabis, and a 41 percent rise in medical cannabis sales, from the same period last year, figures attained from cannabis point of sale and info system Flowhub exhibit.
With the death toll rising to 600 in both countries, several US states and Canadian provinces are issuing stay at home orders, limiting business operations, and closing down borders, in an attempt to actively work to combat the fast-spreading coronavirus.
Although many businesses have been shut down due to the orders of a lockdown, legalized cannabis dispensaries are allowed to continue their businesses despite the current crisis, and have been listed as “essential services” alongside hospitals and other health facilities, even in jurisdictions with the tightest lockdown protocols,
During the intensifying threat of the COVID-19 and increasing sales of cannabis across North America, Bank of America analyst Chris Carey commented that investors could be provided with a defensive move in a market downturn, by the cannabis sector. Carey further talked about the acceleration of cannabis purchases in North America, regardless of region.
Carey pointed out Aphria specifically, boosting its rating to a “buy”. According to the BNN Bloomberg, Carey had reportedly explained how the Ontario-based grower could be expected to see it’s market share in Canada increase.
Aphria and Tilray stocks rose during the same time period. Last week, Aphria’s shares had been reported to move from a low of US$1.97 (C$2.88) to hit US$2.72 (C$3.89), between the time period of March 18th to March 20th. Closing at US$2.51 (C$3.58) last week, they gained slightly more yesterday at US$2.54 (C$3.72) to end the day.
Meanwhile during March 19 to March 20, Tilry shares had risen twice as much, from a low US$2.56 to a high of US$5.03. Yesterday, the stock closed at US$3.85.
According to the OCS Director of Communications Daffyd Roderick, Canada’s most populated province, Ontario, the government-run Ontario Cannabis Store’s (OCS) website experienced escalating online sales in the last two weeks. Last weekend, orders were reported to be more than twice as high compared to two weeks ago.
On Sunday, Nova Scotia was reported to be the latest province to announce a COVID-19 emergency. The province’s liquor commission, that is responsible for the control of sales of cannabis in Nova Scotia, reported a spike of 76 percent in cannabis sales last week.
Sales were also booming in cannabis related beverage companies. One such case was reported by Jamie Pearson, CEO of California-based Bhang Inc, who makes and deals with cannabis-infused beverages, chocolates, and other products. Hence, Pearson is expecting boosted revenue and profits this quarter.
Pearson further claimed the most popular products to be edibles such as gummies, brownies, and chocolates, because of easier storage and accessibility even with precautions such as having gloves on.
Stuart Titus, CEO of California-based Medical Marijuana Inc informed Reuters that the reason behind the boost of Canadian sales was the fear of months of supply disruptions. However, caution is recommended by Titus and others, as they believe that the long-awaited reversal of fortune could potentially be nothing more than a short-lived relief.
Avis Bulbulyan, CEO of cannabis consulting firm Siva Enterprises, explained that even during a global crisis like the spread of the global pandemic, the cannabis industry seems to be recession-proof. Bulbulyan further added that the rise in customer demand is not expected to last very long during a time like this.
The Unsettled Science On The Effect of Cannabis On COVID-19
Cannabis certainly made its mark upon the medical world within the past few decades. Historically shunned, and dismissed as a cheap drug, weed now bears its own therapeutic prowess. Researchers, healthcare experts and experienced users alike all testify to its claimed health benefits and properties. Even when it comes to the terrible COVID-19 pandemic, cannabis gets talked about and undergoes consideration fairly frequently.
However, scientists admit the matter of just how useful cannabis is for use in COVID-19 patients stumps them. Unlike the concept of gravity or climate change, there exists no consensus. Some argue the drug holds several positive health effects, while others that it may worsen symptoms. So, all in all, cannabis still comprises of widely-polarizing evidence that only serves to increase mistrust in it.
Recent studies highlight marked benefits to cannabis when used to treat COVID-19
One of the most exciting, and high-profile, studies that showcase cannabis’s therapeutic potential is this Israeli one. Eybna and CannaSoul, two collaborating cannabis companies, recently launched a joint study into cannabis terpenes and coronavirus. Terpenes, small molecules of organic nature naturally present in the cannabis plant, create the distinct scent of weed. This study found that terpenes proved an effective treatment for COVID-19 patients with ‘cytokine storm’.
Cytokine storm refers to a serious feared complication seen in some younger patients infected with COVID-19. Normally, the body releases cytokines as mediators of immune response. Thus, moderate levels of cytokines play a vital role in immunity. However, in some patients the immune system flares up so severely that excess cytokines release into the blood. This phenomenon leads to inflammation, fever, gastrointestinal disturbances, respiratory issues and even death. Hence, the study’s findings proved game-changing, and even seemed more effective than dexamethasone.
However, evidence also shows cannabis intake may severely hinder essential immune responses
Despite the previous study, scientists also investigate the side-effects of cannabis use and links to COVID-19. They found recently that cannabis may hinder immune responses even in uninfected patients. This is best explained by the way weed works on the body’s endocannabinoid system, which regulates sleep, immunity and other functions. Because combating infections requires an initial surge in immune response, cannabis users may make themselves more open to coronavirus infections.
Furthermore, a recent study that called into question cannabis’s negative effects in immunotherapy patients. To treat certain cancers, immunotherapy seeks to destroy cancerous cells. And ideally, the body’s innate immune cells should take as little damage as possible. Unfortunately, given marijuana’s tendency to reduce immunity, users on immunotherapy get weakened results. Hence, researchers now suggest users with suspected COVID-19 symptoms hold off on the pot.
Despite mixed results with treating COVID-19, medicinal cannabis still holds a wide array of therapeutic benefits
Let’s face it, cannabis still doesn’t get the attention and respect it deserves. In the medical field, however, it gets harder to ignore weed’s influence and popularity. Dentists and surgeons now use it for post-operation recoveries due to its painkilling effects. Its ability to smooth out brain waves makes it ideal for juvenile seizure patients. And lastly, what better drug to ease anxiety and depression patients?
So therefore, it seems a minor side effect of COVID-19 may leave users unsafe. As experts recommend, abstaining just until the COVID-19 vaccine comes out might prove safe. In the meantime, let’s hope more and more healthcare providers turn to prescribing cannabis where appropriate.
Exposure to Marijuana during pregnancy linked to mental disorders in children
Children born to expectant mothers who used marijuana during pregnancy are at a higher risk of developing mental disorders. The results were discovered in a recent study published in JAMA Psychiatry which analysed around 11,489 children for research purposes. The spectrum of disorders included a number of problems like autism, psychotic-like behaviors, and ADHD among many others.
The children were part of the Adolescent Brain Cognitive Development study which is considered as the largest long-term study of brain development and child health in the United States.
Findings of the study
Out of the 11,489 children who were studied, almost 655 were exposed to marijuana during their gestational period. The negative effects were magnified in women who continued using marijuana through out their pregnancy and also while breastfeeding their infants. “Use of cannabis despite knowledge of pregnancy might represent a preexisting and more severe form of cannabis use,” the authors wrote.
Marijuana usage and Mental Disorders
The increased decriminalization and evolving legal acceptance of marijuana is leading to an escalation in its usage rates.
Compounds in marijuana bind to cannabinoid receptors in the brain and induce side-effects like intoxication, euphoria and cognitive delays. This is the main reason for its classification as a Schedule 1 drug at the federal level in the United States. For states where it is considered legal, the medicinal benefits attached to some of its non-psychoactive compounds are valued above the side-effects.
In general, the risks of addiction and other associated side-effects increase with the concentration of THC (psychoactive compound). The negative consequences can be more detrimental if the exposure happens at an earlier developmental age. This is why the incidence of marijuana use and mental disorders is higher for children who get exposed to it in the womb.
According to a research published by U.S Surgeon General Jerome Adams, the concentration of compounds in marijuana have changed overtime. The marijuana available today is much more stronger and THC concentrated as compared to what it was earlier. THC concentration in marijuana crops has increased by three-folds between 1995 and 2014.
In addition, according to his research, marijuana products sold in legal dispensaries may contain THC concentrations ranging between 17.7% to 23.2%. This is separate from the other class of concentrated products that are exclusively designed for recreational use. These products tend to contain between 23.7% to 75.9% concentration levels of THC in them.
The National Institute on Drug Abuse has reported that the usage rates of marijuana had more than doubled between 2002 and 2017 among pregnant women. Most of this use was recreational rather than medicinal in nature. Surprisingly, there are mothers who used marijuana because they considered it safer as compared to prescription medications.
Side-effects of marijuana on fetal development
THC affects the fetal brain via the mother’s bloodstream. It disrupts the mother’s endocannabinoid system, affecting fetal brain development. Outcomes of this early exposure to dangerous levels of THC and leads to anxiety, agitation and psychosis in children.
Some newborns exposed to marijuana have also reportedly experienced withdrawal symptoms including tremors, crying and sleep deprivation. Furthermore, some of the risks during gestation include lower birth weight, preterm labor and increased risk of miscarriages.
In addition to this, studies conducted by Duke University Medical Center have shown a clear link between autism and marijuana. It was a first study to highlight the changes in sperm genes that occur with a man’s cannabis intake. These changes in the sperm of marijuana users have been found to trigger autism in their offspring.
Effect of marijuana exposure later in life of children
According to Dr. Compton there is enough retrospective data to show an association between marijuana usage and the onset of psychotic symptoms. “Adolescent/premorbid marijuana use is not only a risk factor for the later development of primary psychotic disorders (which has been shown in prior studies), but is also a risk factor for an earlier onset of those disorders.”
Can the damage be controlled?
Camille Hoffman, MD, MSCS, is an associate professor of maternal- fetal medicine in University of Colorado School of Medicine. He has conducted a detailed study on the negative effects of marijuana on fetal development. His studies have found that maternal marijuana use begins to negatively impact the fetal brain at an earlier stage in pregnancy. However, some dietary measures can help to curtail these damages. “We also found that eating choline-rich foods or taking choline as a supplement may protect the child from potential harm.”
Is cannabis an effective sleeping aid?
Among the various options available for better sleep management, cannabis and its related products are slowly but surely expanding their market share. With so many modern choices available at hand, can one consider cannabis as an effective sleeping aid? If yes, what strains of cannabis work best?
Lets take a look at what research has to say.
Sleep deprivation is a common modern day problem
“I literally slept like a dog last night”.
Many of us can only wish to say that in the morning following an emotionally or physically challenging day. Contrary to this wistful thinking, a staggering percentage of adults is becoming a sleep deprivation victim with each passing day.
The research findings of the National Sleep Foundation have indicated that about 50 to 70 million adults in the United States suffer from sleeping disorders. It is estimated that almost 30 to 40 percent of individuals will combat insomnia, and 10 to 15 percent will suffer from chronic insomnia in their lives.
These statistics are a clear indication of how getting a sound sleep is getting difficult for a considerable size of the population. In response to these statistics, the global market for sleeping aids is expected to climb to $84.9 billion by 2021. This is a jump from the previous $66.3 billion in 2016, representing a compound annual growth rate of about 5.1%.
Cannabis as a sleeping aid
The sleeping aid market is composed of a variety of products ranging from mattresses, CPAP devices to prescription medications. Among these remedies for improving sleeping patterns, a controversial cure is being hailed as an effective solution by marijuana physicians.
This controversial option involves using cannabis and its related products for managing sleeping disorders. Among the advocates of this idea is Dr.Matt Roman, a medical marijuana physician. “Marijuana is an effective sleep aid because it restores a person’s natural sleep cycle, which so often falls out of sync with our schedules in today’s modern lifestyle,” he says.
Although policies surrounding cannabis have evolved greatly, there is still a federal ban on it in USA. This has obstructed detailed researches on the drug as federal funding is denied for researches on Schedule 1 drugs. This is mainly why many doctors shy away from prescribing it to their patients despite of being aware of its benefits.
How cannabis effects sleep cycles?
The chemical structure of cannabinoids found in cannabis is very similar to those found in the human body. This allows the chemical compounds of cannabis to react effectively with the endocannabinoid system (ECS) of the human body.
According to experts, the ECS plays an important role in regulating a number of physiological processes. Some of the process managed by it include sleep, mood, appetite, anxiety and memory.
Among the various cannabinoids found in the cannabis plant, CBD and THC are most commonly discussed. CBD is a non-psychoactive compound of the plant. It is widely used by patients and is suggested by physicians due to its medicinal properties.
As opposed to this, THC is the psychoactive compound of the cannabis plant. It gives a euphoric feeling to its users, causing them to become addicted to it at some point. This may lead to serious side-effects in some cases, causing some countries to impose a ban on the compound.
When it comes to sleep regulation, both of these compounds have their own set of benefits. Although some benefits maybe short-term in nature, individuals still use cannabis to help with their sleeping disorders.
Cannabis gummies for sleep management
Experts that suggest cannabis for sleep regulation do so for two main reasons.
Firstly, the drug addresses stress and anxiety – two biggest enemies of a peaceful night’s sleep. Secondly cannabis improves sleep latency – the amount of time needed to fall asleep after the lights have been turned off.
In order to arrive at a dosage that works best for an individual, specialists have suggested some tips. Incorporating edibles like gummies slowly into the night routine is one of them. To start off, individuals will do better by starting trials on a weekend. After experimenting with different dosages and brands, the one that works best can then be used during work days as well. In addition, gummies made with indica strains can be a helpful start for new users.
Patients of sleeping disorders can try CBD gummies, THC gummies, or a product that contains a preferred ratio of both drugs. It is recommended to start with a the range of 1-2.g mg of THC and then adjusting the dose according to personal tolerance levels.
Most experts suggest that in order to benefit from the entourage effect, it will be beneficial to try products that contain different strains of cannabis compounds in them. For example, gummies like Kiva’s Camino Midnight Blueberry contain THC and CBN. It is being investigated further by researchers for its effectiveness on regulating sleep patterns.
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