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The COVID-19 pandemic has undoubtedly caused massive disruptions in our routines. The disease has brought nearly every sector of the global economy to its knees. Schools, colleges, and universities have since shut down. The hotel and tourism industries and the event management sector are counting their losses.
With each new day, major economies and global corporations are continually revising their growth projections downwards. The health care sector is also feeling the pinch. In some countries, patients with other acute respiratory infections are deliberately shying away from seeking medical treatment, fearing that they would be quarantined under suspicion of being COVID-19-positive. Similarly, patients suffering from chronic diseases like cancer and diabetes aren’t getting the attention they need, as most medical professionals are working on the frontline to contain the spread of the coronavirus.
Amidst all the anxiety, there is a ray of hope, at least for some traders. Various governments have issued guidelines on what they term as “essential” services. Basically, these are businesses that can freely continue to operate even in countries that have declared a COVID-19 lockdown. The marijuana industry is increasingly becoming one of the essential services.
The decision to make marijuana an essential service amidst the COVID-19 pandemic was inspired by the numerous documented health benefits of weed. From time immemorial, marijuana has been used to treat a wide spectrum of infections.
First up, it’s important to note that in this post, we’ll be using the word “marijuana” to refer to cannabis. Technically speaking, the two terms do not mean the same thing, much as they’re often used interchangeably.
Cannabis is a plant genus that comprises different strains, also known as species. The four most common cannabis strains include Cannabis indica, Cannabis sativa, Cannabis ruderalis, and Cannabis hybrids. Marijuana is actually a variant of the cannabis plant and is mostly derived from Sativa strains. As we’ve mentioned, we shall use “marijuana” throughout this post to refer to cannabis, and not a variant of the plant. Now, medical experts prescribe marijuana for the treatment of various conditions.
In addition to the above conditions, marijuana can also boost appetite, relieve insomnia, and help optimize workouts. Evidently, there are numerous infections that weed can help to prevent, treat, or manage.
With COVID-19 sweeping across the world, it’s becoming increasingly difficult for patients suffering from any of the above conditions to seek medical treatment. The fact that many countries have since declared a lockdown makes it all the more difficult to acquire weed. Therefore, you can stock up High Supplies feminized seeds in 2020 and grow your own cannabis at the comfort of your home.
It’s against this backdrop that advocacy groups are pushing marijuana enforcement agencies to ensure that medical marijuana patients have access to their marijuana prescriptions amidst the pandemic.
So far, two-thirds of the U.S. have decriminalized marijuana for medical use, with 11 having legalized cannabis for adult use. In fact, the 2018 Hemp Bill legalized cannabis in all 50 states, provided that it has fewer than 0.3 percent of the psychoactive tetrahydrocannabinol (THC). Based on these statistics, it’s clear that the legalization of medical marijuana is not so much of a problem as accessibility is.
Declaring marijuana businesses as an essential service provider during the COVID-19 pandemic will not necessarily mainstream medical cannabis. If anything, medical marijuana is already a mainstream substance by virtue of its legality. The main focus will be recreational marijuana.
Advocacy groups lobbying for higher accessibility to marijuana products argue that regulators should relax their stringent policies on the acquisition of weed for both medical and recreational use. These groups cite the long and tedious procedure involved in acquiring a medical marijuana card. Of greater concern is the challenges that traders would go through in getting officially accredited as medical marijuana dealers.
To ease these logistical nightmares, recreational cannabis businesses can step up and cater to the high demand for marijuana during the lockdown. Fortunately, some states have already appreciated the gravity of the situation and come up with tentative policies to expand access to marijuana.
One of these policies includes the introduction of curbside pickup, which will ease access to marijuana while still adhering to social distancing regulations. In other states like Colorado, doctors can now issue medical cannabis recommendations like Ontario cannabis through telemedicine as opposed to conducting physical examinations.
Telemedicine examinations are of paramount importance here, as they eliminate the need for patients walking physically into a marijuana dispensary. That way, even people who were previously considering incorporating marijuana into their routines but feared stigmatization can now confidently approach their doctors and secure a prescription.
Another viable measure we’re likely to see getting implemented is the automatic renewal of medical marijuana certifications for traders whose permits are due to expire soon.
Skeptics may dismiss the current surge in marijuana popularity as a temporary boom whose success is pegged on the duration of COVID-19. If you analyze the situation objectively, the current mainstreaming of marijuana is likely to have long-term implications, both economically and medically-speaking.
Until a few years ago, marijuana was an illicit substance. That’s despite numerous research findings pointing to the health benefits and safety of weed.
When the pandemic is over, cannabis traders will be smiling all the way to the bank. Most importantly, there may be numerous anecdotal accounts of how marijuana users have overcome the various challenges of the coronavirus, including panic, anxiety, and pain. In the end, there may be more reasons to legalize marijuana compared to the reasons to criminalize it.