VA Medical Marijuana Patients: Are You Immune to COVID if You Use Marijuana?
A study recently published in the peer-reviewed Journal of Natural Products, concluded that specific cannabinoid compounds may help prevent and treat COVID. Medical marijuana patients in Virginia may be thrilled at the news, but this does not mean that it’s time to drop your mask or skip that booster shot.
Cannabis may be our favorite plant—and the list of conditions cannabis can treat is long—but, unfortunately, we can’t just vape our way out of the pandemic. No matter how hard we try.
Despite the disappointing fact that Super Lemon Haze buds aren’t going to get us back to life as we knew it before the pandemic, this study has enormous implications for public health, public health policy, and cannabis research.
Will COVID End Because of Marijuana?
In the race to find a cure or prevention for COVID, everyone from expert health officials to your neighbor who runs a dog grooming business out of his basement has something to say. And many of us are willing to try just about anything to avoid the dreaded virus.
It’s not really a stretch for anyone to think that maybe cannabis could be helpful in the battle. After all, cannabis has anti-inflammatory properties effective in treating pain and neurological diseases, and some studies indicate that cannabis has antiviral properties as well.
As a matter of fact, the current study everyone is talking about is not the first study that focused on how cannabis may be an effective weapon against COVID-19 and other infectious diseases, and (thankfully) it certainly won’t be the last! .
What is the Cannabis COVID Study?
Some very smart researchers from the University of Oregon wanted to find out if they could use compounds found in hemp to create a more hostile environment for the SARS-COV-2 virus (COVID) when binding to human cells.
Specifically, they were looking for a way to block the infamous spike protein that seems to be more effective at invasion (but far less melodic) than The Beatles. And they thought that maybe some compounds in cannabis could do the trick.
The researchers used a fancy sciency technique called affinity-selection mass spectrometry, which basically allows scientists to experiment with thousands of compounds at once, to look at all the compounds found in hemp and how they interacted with SARS-COV-2. Researchers were able to quickly narrow down and identify three compounds that bind to the SARS-COV-2 spike protein: CBD-A, CBG-A, and THC-A.
A For Effort! What Does the A in CBD-A, CBG-A and THC-A Stand For?
The “A” following all your favorite cannabinoids refers to these cannabinoids in their raw form, as an acid. This is how they are found in the plant, and the “acid” part of the cannabinoid is lost through a chemical transformation called decarboxylation.
CBD, CBG and THC do not have the properties that we generally associate with them until decarboxylation happens, which is usually achieved through heating the cannabis products. For example, THC-A has no psychoactive properties, but once it’s heated through smoking, vaping, or making cannabutter to prepare for DIY edibles, you’ve got a completely different effect.
Does This Mean That the Cannabinoid Acids in Raw Cannabis are Useless?
Absolutely not! Scientists are still figuring out exactly what kinds of effects cannabinoid acids have and how they differ from the decarbed versions. However, we know that cannabinoid acids are good for us too. And this fact has been solidified with the COVID study by our Oregon researchers.
But it might be good to think of your cannabis consumption like spinach consumption:
Cooked spinach is full of iron and wonderful healthy vitamins; but raw spinach has some completely different health benefits, and we love to stick it into our smoothies and salads because of the way it makes us feel when we keep it crunchy! Each is good for you in its own way.
What’s the Difference Between CBD, CBG and THC?
CBD, CBG and THC are all cannabinoids found in cannabis plants, though hemp contains little to no THC. These cannabinoids interact with different receptors in the endocannabinoid system to help regulate your bodily functions, and maintain balance. For an in-depth explanation of cannabinoids and their effects, check out our sister site’s resource: Ohio Marijuana Card’s Guide to Cannabinoids.
CBD is the darling cannabinoid in the US right now, and it has generated lots of enthusiasm because it’s abundant in hemp—which is Federally legal—and it generally doesn’t cause impairment. CBD is great for anxiety and mild to moderate pain, and lots of people swear by it to treat their insomnia.
CBG is believed to be the base of all other cannabinoids. Essentially, cannabinoids start out as CBG, and they transform into THC, CBD, CBC, CBN and others as plants mature. CBG is currently being studied for its antifungal and anticancer properties, but its anti-inflammatory properties may be the most useful in preventing or fighting COVID.
Depending on which side of the fence you’re on, THC is the cannabinoid that will either save or end the world, and there isn’t much in between. THC is the compound responsible for the Reefer Madness that convinced politicians (and the general public) that the 1937 Marihuana Tax Act—and later the War on Drugs—were good ideas. THC’s psychoactive properties aside, it is known to be a powerful anti-inflammatory. When combined with CBD, the effects are even stronger.
What Does the COVID Cannabis Study Mean for Public Health?
Here’s the thing about this study: Cannabis policy in the US is sticky, and not like those GMO Cookies buds you just bought at a Virginia dispensary. There is currently only one cannabis-based drug approved by the FDA for use by the public. Epidiolex is for severe seizure disorders and contains only pure CBD.
Because marijuana’s Federal legal status is still a Schedule I controlled substance, it’s nearly impossible to get funding for research, and no marijuana or hemp products are likely to be approved by the FDA to prevent or treat COVID anytime soon.
According to the lead author of the Oregon Study, Richard B van Breemen, they weren’t able to get funding, so they paid for it themselves.
Are We Going to Use Gummies to End COVID?
Van Breemen sees a possible future for COVID management as one that includes supplements in the form edible gummies containing CBD-A, CBG-A and THC-A, along with FDA approved vaccines and treatments that we already know work, and the development of additional preventative and therapeutic drugs.
However, in order for our future healthcare policy to include cannabis supplements, the Federal Government is going to have to do something about its relationship with weed.
What’s Next for Cannabis Health Research?
You may be surprised to know that Israel is way ahead of the US when it comes to research on the medicinal value of cannabis. Researchers in Israel have been able to do research using marijuana for years, and there are plenty of studies we dismiss in the US because they are not American studies.
Cannabis research in the US has been limited due to marijuana’s Federal legal status. Researchers have struggled to get authorization, funding and products, creating a dearth of scientific advancement when it comes to harnessing the healing power of cannabis.
However, Federal policies are loosening, and the Oregon study, titled, “Cannabinoids Block Cellular Entry of SARS-CoV-2 and the Emerging Variants,” may be the final push we need to convince our politicians that it’s time to take marijuana out of legal purgatory and move plant medicine into the spotlight where it belongs.
Does Medical Marijuana Make You Immune to COVID?
No. Medical marijuana will not make you immune to COVID. But cannabis can make life a lot more tolerable as we continue to live through this pandemic.
Also, we aren’t saying you should go out and buy medical marijuana gummies to protect yourself from or treat COVID. But we are saying that you can find gummies at Virginia dispensaries that contain the raw forms of the cannabinoids mentioned in the study.
This does not mean that you should in any way count on medical marijuana to protect you or treat your illness. If you get any benefits from cannabis against COVID, it should just be seen as an added, unexpected bonus.
The surest way to protect yourself from serious illness from COVID, is to get vaccinated, wear a mask, and keep your distance in indoor public settings. For more information about how to stay safe, check out the CDC’s most updated COVID guidelines.
Can COVID Patients Get Medical Marijuana in Virginia?
If you’ve had COVID, you may wonder if having had COVID or Long COVID qualifies for medical marijuana in Virginia. While we would love to say that patients living with symptoms of Long COVID can get a doctor’s recommendation for cannabis in Virginia, you’ll probably need to come to us with another qualifying condition in order to use marijuana to treat the exhaustion, pain, sleep disorders, anxiety and depression, that seem to show up in some patients after they’ve been infected with COVID.
Fortunately for Virginia residents, the list of conditions that qualify for treatment with medical marijuana is long. As of right now, the most common conditions MMJ patients in Virginia experience as a result of COVID stress are PTSD and chronic pain caused by anxiety-related diseases.
It doesn’t matter why you have chronic pain or PTSD—they both qualify for treatment with medical marijuana in Virginia.
The patient support team and doctors at Virginia Marijuana Card are compassionate and understanding, and we specialize in helping through every step in the process of getting medical mariuana to treat your symptoms in Virginia.
If you are considering cannabis to help you get through these tough times, you may qualify. Give us a call at (866) 457-5559, or simply schedule an appointment with one of our Virginia licensed medical marijuana doctors online now!
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At Virginia Marijuana Card, our mission is helping everyone achieve wellness
safely and conveniently through increased access to MMJ. Our focus on
education, inclusion, and acceptance will reduce the stigma for our patients by
providing equal access to timely information and compassionate care.
Call us at (888) 633-5808, or simply book a medical marijuana evaluation to start getting relief you can trust today!
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