Observational data shows cannabis users have lower infection rates
Cannabis enhances the immune system and may be effective in mitigating the effects of Covid-19. That’s the view of Dr Regina Hurley, co-principal investigator in South Africa’s first clinical trials involving cannabis. Although the trials focus on the potential of medical cannabis to replace opioids in pain management, Dr Hurley says there is a vast area of exploration involving cannabis and Covid.
“Studies in other countries indicate that patients on medical cannabis had lower infection rates. The problem right now is that research is mostly observational data, but it does appear that cannabis may provide a barrier to entry for the virus. But the other thig about observational data is you can see clearly if a patient is improving or not.” Dr Hurley told a medical cannabis webinar on 3 December 2021. “Cannabis enhances the immune system and lowers the viral load so the Covid effect is less severe”.
THC and CBD play different roles in Covid treatment
Dr Hurley said both THC and CBD compounds in cannabis had their uses in combatting Covid. “There’s the massive anti-inflammatory effect of high CBD doses, it seems it may stop a Covid ‘surge’, while high THC medication reduces anxiety and pain. In terms of post-Covid treatment, CBD does well in helping reduce anxiety. A whole spectrum extract enhances the endocannabinoid system”.
“This is very exciting” said Dr Hurley. “The way forward will show unlimited benefits and open up new approaches to medicine. Our way forward is an amalgamation of western and traditional approaches to healing. Cannabis can replace chemical drugs and can act synergistically with other natural medicines.
‘Classify cannabis as a botanical medicine’!
Dr Hurley, who has called for cannabis to be reclassified as a botanical medicine, said South Africa needed to develop its own cannabis framework and not merely follow the lead of first world countries. She said that according to the World Health Organization there were 252 medicines considered essential to humanity, and of these 11% were plant-based.
“Botanical medicines cannot be subject to the same regulations as a pharmaceutical molecule” said Dr Hurley, who said SAHPRA should deschedule cannabis as a matter of urgency.
“Stop over-regulating and allow the masses to benefit” she said.