A preliminary study in the Journal of Cannabis Research suggests cannabis users have lower rates of ICU admission for COVID-19.
The study says: “Active cannabis users hospitalized with COVID 19 had better clinical outcomes compared with non-users, including decreased need for ICU admission or mechanical ventilation.”
Even though the study was retrospective and thus limited with its conclusions, its results are certainly promising. Enough for the researchers to suggest performing further studies that elucidate the effects of cannabis in COVID-19 patients.
People with COVID requiring ICU (intensive care units) and ventilators strained health care systems worldwide in 2020 and 2021. And in countries like Canada, the system hasn’t recovered.
So, should governments promote cannabinoid therapy as a way of combating COVID-19? Especially with the flu season approaching? First, let’s look at what the study said.
Details of the Study on Cannabis and COVID-19
Researchers from the David Geffen School of Medicine at the University of California looked at two hospitals in the Los Angeles area.
Out of the 1,831 COVID patients in the study, 69 patients, or 4%, reported regular cannabis use.
The researchers performed what is called a retrospective analysis of patient data. A retrospective analysis (or study) is a research method used when the outcome is already known.
In this example, researchers knew there were patients in the hospital for COVID-19. The research aims to determine what factors may have led to needing an ICU or ventilator versus recovering without one.
The main advantage of this type of research is answering a question quickly. Someone else has collected the data already. Retrospective analyses are helpful as pilot studies before springboarding into a more extensive, controlled study.
In the cannabis and COVID-19 study, researchers compared cannabis and non-cannabis users in NIH COVID-19 severity scores. They also compared intensive care unit admission, ventilator use, length of hospitalization, need for supplemental oxygen, and in-hospital death.
The study says, “Cannabis users had significantly better outcomes compared to non-users as reflected in lower NIH scores (5.1 vs 6.0), shorter hospitalization (4 days vs 6 days), lower ICU admission rates (12% vs 31%), and less need for mechanical ventilation (6% vs 17%). ICU admission was 12 percentage points lower and intubation rates were 6 percentage points lower in cannabis users.”
Why Does Cannabis Help Combat COVID?
This study isn’t the first to suggest cannabis plays a role in combating COVID-19. Earlier this year, promising research indicated CBD could reduce or stop a COVID infection.
Other studies have also suggested that CBD has a significant role in reducing COVID infections. One study found the CBGA and CBDA cannabinoids block COVID from entering cells.
The authors of this most recent study suggest cannabis’ anti-inflammatory effects are the reason for its success.
The study says, “Patients with severe COVID-19 have elevated clinical inflammatory markers,” before going on to say:
“Cannabis users were more likely to have lower inflammatory markers levels on admission compared to non-users. This effect was sustained during their hospital course, with cannabis users continuing to have lower inflammatory markers compared to non-users.”
Cannabis’ role in reducing inflammation is well known and well studied.
Suppose severe COVID infections result from a person’s higher inflammation levels. In that case, it makes sense that someone who regularly consumes cannabis (a herb known for reducing inflammation) will have an easier time dealing with COVID.
Cannabis Mandates Coming to Canada?
It’s no secret that Canada’s health care system did not survive the pandemic. For two years, the Ontario government routinely shut down a province of 13.6 million people because the system couldn’t handle more than 2,300 people in an ICU at a time.
One year into the pandemic, 1,400 ICU beds were occupied by non-COVID patients, leaving only 900 for COVID patients.
And that is in March 2021. They had one full-year to prepare. Ontario‘s government could have allocated more resources to the health care sector instead of arbitrarily shutting down private businesses.
But the most significant consequence of the last two years is the two-tier society governments felt comfortable imposing on the population.
Until the Freedom Convoy scared provincial governments into removing their restrictions, COVID vaccine passports were the norm in Canadian life.
Suppose you didn’t have proof that you received two shots of an experimental mRNA gene therapy. In that case, you couldn’t do basic things like eating at a restaurant, watching a movie, working out at the gym, seeing a sporting event, gambling at a casino, etc.
The propaganda was so intense that some would gaslight and bully their friends and family members into taking the shot.
But now that the consequences of these experimental shots are becoming known, and the fact that they don’t prevent transmission or infection – the idea of domestic passports has lost its allure.
But why? “Public health” was adamant these vaccine mandates and passports were for our own good.
Following their authoritarian logic, why not have cannabis mandates?
If we’re in a war, and COVID is the enemy, then all our principles of a free society no longer apply, evidently. Thus, public health can demand that governments force everyone to consume cannabis to fight COVID-19.
Cannabis & COVID – Controlled Studies When?
As much as we’d like to promote cannabinoid therapy as a way of combating COVID-19, the fact is, there haven’t been any double-blinded placebo-controlled studies on the subject.
Until then, we can promote this study as it confirms our bias. But what about the observational research suggesting people with “substance use disorders” are more likely to experience adverse outcomes of COVID-19?
Research of this type only reveals the bias of the researchers.
But given the promising preliminary studies on cannabis and COVID, we think it’s only a matter of time until conclusive evidence confirms that cannabinoid therapy reduces the severity of a COVID-19 infection.
After all, cannabis does treat inflammation. And suppose lower inflammation is a significant indicator of how likely it is you’ll survive a flu virus. In that case, governments should push cannabinoid therapy as hard as they did for vaccinations.
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