Cannabis News Week: Can Cannabis Prevent Covid Infections?
Researchers from Oregon State University are expected to present evidence that cannabis is an even greater miracle drug than previously known.
After decades of suppression, the medical benefits of cannabis are well known and are often used by advocates to push for more freedom for both recreational and medicinal users
But there are new studies being conducted constantly, and the medical community may just be scratching the surface of understanding the benefits of marijuana.
Researchers at Oregon State University are expected to present information on using natural products, including hemp, to treat covid-19 at a virtual event called “Natural Products and Hemp: Under-appreciated Sources for Covid-19 Therapeutic Agents” on Dec. 6.
This event comes about a year after the school published a study that found that compounds in cannabis could prevent the virus that causes covid from infecting human cells.
Richard van Breeman, a professor of pharmaceutical sciences at Oregon State and a team of researchers found that a pair of cannabinoid acids bind to the SARS-CoV-2 spike protein, which then blocks a critical step in the infection process
The findings were published in the Journal of Natural products and, according to the university, set records for downloads and online views when it was released.
So, apparently there is an appetite for this type of research.
Righting an SBA Wrong for Cannabis
Access to capital has hampered the cannabis industry immensely even while state’s move to make the drug more legal than it has ever been in the United States.
Capital, especially for potential small business owners looking to get into the business, is nearly impossible to get due to the federally illegal nature of the drug.
But U.S. Senator Jacky Rosen (D-NV) has a plan to right some of those wrongs.
Sen. Rosen introduced legislation that would make regulated cannabis businesses eligible for loans and other programs from the federal Small Business Administration under the Fair Access for Cannabis Small Businesses Act.
The legislation will give proprietors access to the popular SBA 7(a) loans that other small businesses have access to, as well as disaster loans, microloans, and the Small Business Investment Company program.
“The unfair barriers to basic federal support and resources have hurt our state’s legally-operating cannabis small businesses,” said Sen. Rosen.
“This legislation will level the playing field so that cannabis small businesses… have access to the same federal resources and loans that other legal businesses are entitled to.”
Rosen’s legislation, when paired with the oft-discussed SAFE Banking Act, would create a regulatory framework that would ensure a diverse pool of players in the cannabis industry, according to Khadijah Tribble, CEO of the U.S. Cannabis Council.
“Senator Rosen’s landmark legislation would help advance equity and innovation in the cannabis industry by leveling the playing field for independent cannabis operators,” Tribble said.
A Decade of Recreational Cannabis
We all know the tropes. Weed smokers are lazy stoners with little motivation and the constant munchies.
While the tropes have some basis in reality, cannabis can definitely relax a person to the point where they don’t want to move, but new research from the University of Colorado Boulder suggests that the tropes don’t tell the whole story.
Angela Bryan, a professor of psychology, and Brian Keegan, an assistant professor of information science, recently debunked some of the most prevalent misconceptions following the 10-year anniversary of recreational cannabis’ legalization in the Centennial State.
Data suggests, according to the researchers that pot smokers “tend to use cannabis in conjunction with exercise in some form or fashion and that’s either using before exercise or using it after exercise for recovery purposes,” said Bryan, according to CPR.
“We also have larger epidemiological data, not collected by my lab, but where we see patterns such that cannabis users have lower rates of type two diabetes, better waist-to-hip ratios and better insulin function,”
For decades, marijuana has had an image problem — of which the most prominent has been the “lazy stoner.”
Sunken into the couch, the marijuana user only gets up from their comfortable spot between commercial breaks to raid the fridge and pantry in search of munchies. Or so it used to be believed.
Today, liberalization of marijuana laws across the United States and changing attitudes about the drug have also helped to change what the image of a marijuana user looks like.
Furthermore, increasing interest in cannabis from the medical and scientific communities has provided valuable insight about the drug’s potential.
Recent research has consistently indicated that cannabis users are less likely to be obese and have a lower BMITrusted Source than the average American.
As for the munchies, a study published in March of this year found that over a three-year period, marijuana users put on less weight than those who didn’t use marijuana products.
Now, in a new study from the University of Colorado (UC) in Boulder, researchers are asking a bold question: What if instead of making people lazy, marijuana could actually get users to engage in more physical activity than they normally would?
The study, published in the journal Frontiers in Public Health, looked at self-reported data from more than 600 marijuana users in states where the drug has been legalized.
The average age of users was 37.5 and was split almost down the middle in terms of sex, with slightly more males than females.
The vast majority — more than 80 percent of respondents — endorsed using cannabis in some form either directly before or directly after exercise.
Getting high and exercising also resulted in more physical activity as well.
Even after controlling for demographic factors like age and gender, co-users (those who used marijuana before or after exercise) on average took part in 43 more minutes of aerobic exercise per week and 30 more minutes of anaerobic exercise, such as weightlifting.
And co-users also surpassed the American College of Sports Medicine’s recommendations of a minimum of 150 minutes of aerobic exercise per week by nearly 10 minutes.
“The average cannabis user in our study was exercising a lot more than your average American,” said Angela Bryan, PhD, a professor of psychology and neuroscience at UC-Boulder and one of the study’s authors.
“It seemed that not only were cannabis users in general exercising quite a bit, but they were combining cannabis and exercise behavior at pretty high rates,” she said.
While it’s unclear why this association appears, the study does offer some clues.
Co-users frequently cited marijuana as increasing enjoyment of exercise and aiding in workout recovery. Less frequently, they said that it helped with motivation and physical performance.
According to Dr. Bryan, it’s possible that co-users were just having more fun.
“That can help people do it for longer as well. If you’re more motivated and you’re having more fun while you’re doing it, you’re enjoyment is higher. And we know from decades of exercise work that that’s going to be associated with more physical activity,” she said.
However, the study is far from demonstrating any clear causal relationship between marijuana use and increased physical activity.
Others have weighed in saying that the self-reported nature of the study makes it hard to draw any real conclusions.
“These results may be more reflective of the fact that marijuana is a more significant part of these respondents’ overall lifestyle.” Paul Armentano, the deputy director of the National Organization for the Reform of Marijuana Laws (NORML) told Healthline.
“It would be interesting to know if many of these respondents would similarly report that marijuana provides increased enjoyment with other routine activities, as well, such as eating dinner, watching television, playing video games, etc,” he said. “My presumption is that a similar trend would emerge if these questions were asked.”
Other confounding factors, which the authors point out, include the fact that states where marijuana is legal are “without exception more physically active than the national average.”
In short, there’s plenty of work still to be done on the issue.
But from a public health perspective, if marijuana is in fact helping some users get up off the couch instead of lounge on it, then ultimately that’s something worth investigating.
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