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CBD no cure for Covid, but pandemic ‘will boost sales’

CannAfrica’s CEO says the CBD market is primed for exponential growth in the face of the Covid-19 pandemic. Herschel Maasdorp says international CBD sales have soared since the world began a series of lockdowns in 2020 and is confident that CannAfrica’s store roll out in South Africa is well-timed.

Maasdorp is the man in charge of Cannafrica’s expansion in South Africa, which began with its first store opening in Cape Town in October 2020.. 

Related: CannAfrica CBD store roll-out begins in Cape Town.

‘Beware snake oil peddlers undermining CBD’s credibility’

Maasdorp says although Canadian research has shown that certain cannabindiols may potentially lower the risk of contracting Covid-19, more studies are needed before this can be claimed with any certainty.  He warned that zealots claiming that  CBD was a ‘cure-all’ could undermine the advances made in the public acceptance of medical marijuana.

“I would caution anyone – specifically those within the industry – against suggestions of this nature, and to be extremely wary of filling the vacuum of fear wrought by the pandemic with unfounded claims. Appearing as snake-oil peddlers undermines our hard-won credibility; something that the global industry has fought for, and is still battling to establish among certain stakeholder groups”

The South African Health Products Regulatory Authority (SAHPRA) bars CBD companies from making claims that a product can ‘diagnose’, ‘cure’, ‘treat’, ‘mitigate’ or ‘prevent’ any medical conditions. These guidelines are in line with international standards. In addition, CBD manufacturers and distributors are required to adhere to strict guidelines when, developing marketing content related to CBD products.  The Google advertising policy still prohibits brands from promoting CBD products to online users.


Read about CBD in Southern Africa


CBD retailers recovered rapidly after lockdown

Maasdorp says that “while certainly no cure for Corona, there’s substantial evidence in support of CBD’s anti-bacterial, anti-anxiety and anti-inflammatory properties, making it highly attractive in the midst of a global pandemic. Along with virtually every other business, the CBD industry took a knock during South Africa’s initial hard lockdown in March, as consumer spending ground to a halt in the face of the proverbial rainy day, which had suddenly materialized. However, CBD retailers have experienced a rapid recovery – particularly those with e-commerce platforms, as many consumers continue to give brick-and-mortar outlets a wide birth.

Pandemic has placed a premium on wellness and self-care

Maasdorp says there are two reasons for CBD’s rise in popularity:

  • In a disease pandemic, wellness becomes a high-value currency and self-care has taken on a whole new meaning: having finally outgrown the sheet mask, it now encompasses the full spectrum of mental, emotional and physical health, cementing its place in society. CBD has shown that it may contribute towards promoting homeostasis by boosting endocannabinoid activity, leading to a growth in demand as consumers seek to enhance their immunity;
  • Secondly, there has been a sharp spike in conditions such as depression and anxiety in South Africa. While wide-scale unemployment has risen across the globe, the deep fissures that already exist in our country’s socio-economic fabric have been exacerbated by the pandemic. The South African Depression and Anxiety Group (SADAG) recently reported that the number of calls to mental health and suicide hotlines had more than doubled since the beginning of lockdown, and were climbing every day.

“In short, the post-COVID landscape is a fertile breeding ground for increased chronic stress, anxiety, depression, alcohol dependence, and self-harm” says Maasdorp.

CBD effective in stress management and anxiety relief

“Stress management is an area where CBD shines. One study that investigated cannabidiol as a potential treatment for anxiety disorders showed that systemically administered CBD lowered acute increases in heart rate and blood pressure. CBD conclusively demonstrated its efficacy in mitigating anxiety related behaviours relevant to multiple disorders, including post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), generalized anxiety disorder (GAD) and seasonal affective disorder (SAD), among others, with a notable lack of anxiogenic effects”.

He says that with consumers under mounting pressure, there’s no disputing that CBD has a valuable role to play in a post-COVID world. 

“This places an even greater responsibility on us, as an industry. It is vital that we avoid making unverified or grandiose claims. We must commit to ongoing education that will empower our customers, while adhering to the parameters laid out in the regulatory framework. Remaining transparent and ethically accountable will ensure our industry’s long-term viability, in a world forever changed by this pandemic”.

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