Cannabis and Coronavirus: an optimistic look at a post-COVID world.

cannabis and coronavirus
April 14, 2020

The COVID 19 pandemic has changed everybody’s life. It has changed the way we view tragedy, it has changed the way we view scientists and politicians and it has changed the way we view each other. Global disasters reshape society in many ways, ways impossible to predict while sat in the eye of the storm. This article will look at how COVID-19 could change things for the cannabis community, and whether some good could actually come of this terrible pandemic.

Cannabis and consumers.

The experience of being on lockdown has forced us to re-evaluate our behavior as consumers, with empty shelves showing us there are things we actually CAN live without. We don’t need frozen pizza, we don’t need a cupboard full of canned asparagus and we don’t need squeezy cheese. Toilet paper, on the other hand… It used to be normal to buy fresh ingredients and cook meals with the family, freezing homemade soups and broths for the coming months… now it’s being championed as a ‘fun new way’ to beat the boredom of lockdown. It ain’t new, but it is fun.

Retail in general could suffer as consumers ask questions like: do I really need to buy these? Maybe eighteen pairs of shoes is enough…This new mindset will change the way we purchase and consume cannabis, too. Instead of asking: is there any reason to grow cannabis at home? We will instead struggle to justify the (sometimes very long) drive to the dispensary. Shop-bought weed is expensive. You don’t know what chemicals went into producing it. You don’t know what sort of carbon footprint it has. You don’t really know what it is or why you’re paying up to $300 MORE per ounce than quality, homegrown cannabis.

To be fair to them, most dispensaries have stayed open during lockdown, with staff risking their lives to make sure patients get their medicine. These same patients have been confronted with a grim reality: having their own, homegrown medicine would have greatly reduced the risk to themselves AND the brave dispensary staff.

When the worst of this is over and things return to normal, the specter of future pandemics will hang over us all. It’s time to be more self-sufficient. We should ALL learn to grow our own cannabis. It will see us better prepared for next time and will genuinely enrich our lives.

Faith in science.

There has been a worrying trend in recent years towards a mistrust of scientists and experts. From Trump’s weaponization of ‘fake news’ to populist attacks on climate scientists… professionals and experts from all walks of life have been sneered at and abused. Outlandish conspiracy theories abound, and the voices of reason are continually shot down by ranting, bull-faced news anchors and schoolyard politicians. The COVID-19 crisis could see this all change. 

The whole world has been forced to accept that scientific truth and expertise matter. The people truly responsible for saving our lives and keeping us healthy are not lobbyists, reality-TV stars (even those promoted to president) or media magnates. They are doctors, nurses, health workers, farmers, shop workers, delivery drivers, police and anyone with heart enough to put themselves before others during this crisis.

If we can plot a course away from anti-truth and towards a new seriousness, we could see great things for the cannabis community. COVID-19 could see renewed investment into cannabis research, seeing new cures and treatments for millions of people. Cannabis could end the opioid crisis single-handedly, rescuing huge numbers of Americans from a life of addiction and misery.

We would be far wiser if we listened to scientists and doctors about marijuana, rather than sensationalist politicians with misguided and self-serving agendas. If we work together to unleash the true medicinal power of cannabis, we shall make the world a happier, healthier, greener place.

Digital community.

The forced realization that many jobs can be done from home will be a difficult genie to put back in the bottle. Ditching the daily commute (some workers spend hours driving to and from work) can have enormous benefits to employees and their families. Of course, not all employees can work remotely, but those who can, should. Even one day a week without the commute will lower traffic, reduce pollution and ease the burden on public transport, meaning health benefits for everybody. Home-working shouldn’t be feared by employers, it’s an opportunity to save money AND increase productivity (not every employee will spend their commuting time playing Solitaire).

COVID-19 has also highlighted the benefits of telemedicine, remote appointments with doctors for minor complaints and general advice. Any steps that can lessen the burden on hospitals and reduce the spread of disease (think packed vs empty waiting room) will undoubtedly save lives. 

The concept of remote learning has also been reinvigorated. Many schools and universities already offer online courses, seeing the financial as well as the environmental benefits of home-schooling, but the COVID crisis could see more people looking to the web for education. More and more people are using sites like the Homegrown Cannabis Co for free education and tutorials. This sense of neighborliness and group support is what the cannabis community is all about. Online guides, free customer support and forums with community members helping each other for the sake of just, helping. 

Big pharma is not the future.

The COVID crisis has exposed the frailties of market-based systems of healthcare and the dangerous risk of putting profit before health. Whether this leads to positive changes to the way we care for our sick and vulnerable is open to debate, but those in the cannabis community have long espoused the benefits of free medicine for all. Because this is EXACTLY what cannabis can be! It doesn’t matter what you use cannabis for, whether it’s glaucoma, depression, inflammation, PTSD, arthritic pain, migraine, insomnia, anxiety, stress, cramps, fatigue, spasms, nausea, seizures (I think you get the picture), cannabis is natural and cannabis is cheap. The experience of growing at home is therapeutic in itself and far more economical than spending money in dispensaries – especially if you’re lucky enough to grow outdoors in full, Californian sun.

Growing your own medicine can relieve the pressure on our health providers AND your wallet, meaning you can save those trips to the doctor or the dispensary for when you really need to go.

Finally… is a haircut more important than your health? 

Self-isolating and social distancing can feel like an attack on personal liberties, but exceptional circumstance call for exceptional measures. It’s on all of us to ride this out as best we can. Resist the urge to kickback against guidelines that are in place to keep us ALL safe, whether you’re happy with your bangs or not.