We all heard about the virus emerging in China and watched closely as reports came in suggesting it was a particularly deadly strain that was spreading quickly Eastwards. To begin with we held out hope that it would be contained, but almost overnight we saw the freedom we knew pulled out from under us like some kind of old rug which was ripe for slinging in the trash, and the vast majority of people had no idea of what this change would mean in the months that followed.
Looking back on the initial impact of the pandemic, with the panic buying of antibacterial solutions, long-life foodstuffs and, for some unknown reason, toilet roll I found myself contemplating what impact this situation was going to have on the cannabis scene around the world. At the time of writing, there is limited information available online, so I spoke to a few people and pulled together some information alongside my own experiences to try and shed some light on our collective plight.
Unsurprisingly, one of the first things which people were concerned about was their personal supply. People in countries and states with access to medicinal dispensaries and recreational retailers flocked to stores the moment they heard about potential shortages and widespread lockdowns. This led to a huge spike in sales which showed year-on-year growth of anywhere from 21-44% for some of the stores involved in the period from March through April (even with the expected 420 sales spike) and there was a sense that many people were stockpiling just in case things got worse.
While this was perfectly understandable when people were fighting each other in supermarkets to get the last pack of Charmin, it did send shockwaves through many parts of the population as they contemplated what would happen if the supply chain dried up completely. Fortunately, this sales spike seemed to be pretty short-lived and aside from a few specific instances where stores suddenly found their shelves empty it seems that the majority of people managed to weather the storm and ride it out as time progressed.
In the UK and other areas of the world where possession, cultivation and consumption are still illegal, the problems were amplified by the obvious problems with supply chains which are caused when freedom of movement is limited. This didn’t just have an impact on the people responsible for distribution on the black market, especially in Northern Ireland where authorities reported some humongous busts, but also for consumers who suddenly found themselves under much greater scrutiny simply for being outside of their home at any given moment.
When you can only leave the house to exercise or shop for essential items, the police in many built-up areas became increasingly militant in their approach to the process of ‘Stop and Search’. I, for one, cut ties with one of my main dealers because they live in a major city with a bit of a reputation and a police force who are relatively heavy-handed even at the best of times…I can’t afford to take excess risks, so I give huge thanks to my friends on the internet and the postal service for getting me through this difficult time!Medicinal users with prescriptions had to navigate some hardships in the UK too since many of their usual legal channels became inaccessible.
Fortunately, the UK government saw fit to change the policy for repeat prescriptions and even allowed for cannabis to be sent through the post to reduce the risk for those classed as more vulnerable due to their underlying health conditions. In the US and Canada, dispensaries were widely recognized as being ‘essential’ services and as long as the business owners complied with Covid regulations they were allowed to continue to operate. The fact that many patients would have otherwise been left stranded without access to their strains is at least a small glimmer of hope in these otherwise dark times.
One of the positives to take away from this is that a number of researchers and scientists around the world are convinced that there is a huge potential for a number of cannabis derivatives to be used in the treatment and prevention of the novel Coronavirus that has forced us all into hibernation for a quarter of a year. CBD is already noted for its impact on supporting the immune system as part of a healthy and balanced lifestyle, but there are studies underway which hope to prove that doses of CBD dramatically reduce the severity of Covid-related symptoms and may reduce the virus’ potential to cause additional health problems by limiting its ability to bind to receptors within the body.
Furthermore, some studies believe that THC may have the ability to inhibit the virus even further and could possible even go so far as to kill the virus whilst it attempts to replicate and spread. It’s early days still, but there is certainly plenty to smile about if you look beyond the mainstream media and the increasingly haphazard government briefings.
One of the other concerns I have is that there could be a significant knock-on effect to the supply chain down the line if farms have not been able to crop, cure or ship their products due to the pandemic. I spoke with an old friend in the US who spoke of crops being cut down and trashed due to unfounded fears in some areas. On top of this, many fledgling businesses have felt the pinch and there is a good chance that a number of businesses will go under due to lost revenues or unexpected additional costs associated with following new Covid regulations.
Over the past few years, we have seen a huge rise in the number of cannabis-related businesses springing up around the world and we can only hope that people aren’t too negatively affected by what has happened.As it stands, nobody knows how all this will pan out, but it seems certain that Covid will be a reasonably significant part of our lives for at least the next year or so.
It’s certainly a strange and challenging time for everyone, and the signs of division across society as politics become further muddied by mixed messages and rambling responses are troubling to say the least. This should be a time of unity, of support and of serious self-reflection if we are to come out of all this stronger amd even more resilient than we were before, but it’s not going to be easy. For many of us, all we can do is try to look out for ourselves and those around us while we try to stay safe and take extra precautions to reduce our chances of infection.
Written and Published By Psy-23 Weed World Magazine Issue 146