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How cannabis extracts could play a role in fight against Covid-19

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Animal and human studies still need to be conducted before any conclusion into the effectiveness is made

More research is suggesting that cannabis extracts could play a role in the treatment and prevention of Covid-19 – which could be a boon for those in the beverage space.

After facing scrutiny last spring, new research suggests that using cannabis to help treat and prevent Covid-19 isn’t so far-fetched after all.

Researchers at the University of Lethbridge are advancing to clinical trials after study results revealed that certain cannabis strains might help prevent COVID-19 patients from experiencing acute respiratory distress (ARDS).

At the same time, Michigan State University professor of pharmacology and toxicology Norbert Kaminski is working with GB Sciences, a biopharmaceutical company, to develop a drug that prevents the lung inflammation that some experience after contracting COVID-19 that can lead to trouble breathing and death.

The positive test results from these various studies bode well for cannabis companies that have a stake in the edibles and extracts sector, such as industry giants Canopy Growth, Tilray and and plant-based extraction company Pure Extract Technologies.

In January, Pure Extracts Technologies took advantage of low biomass prices by entering into a substantial purchase agreement in order to scale-up production of both its THC and CBD extracts. The company agreed to purchase 220 kilograms of high-potency cannabis dried flower from a large Canadian licensed producer and 1,000 kgs of high-potency CBD biomass from a top Western Canadian cultivator.

Less than a month later, Pure Extracts Technologies announced its first commercial sale of its 85% pure CBD distillate, which is ideally suited for cannabis 2.0 products like edibles, vape pens, and cannabis-infused beverages.

While Pure Extracts Technologies is targeting the recreational adult-use cannabis market with its 34 proprietary formulations of ‘Pure Pulls’ full spectrum oil vapes and its new line of ‘Pure Chews’ edible gummies, the high-purity oil could be a good candidate for medical cannabis developments, including cannabis mouthwash that could potentially help in the fight against COVID-19.

In April 2020, pandemic panic sparked several sensational claims that cannabis could cure COVID-19, which were quickly chalked up to hearsay. However, more research is pointing to the plant’s potential role in the fight against viral outbreaks like the coronavirus.

For the last four years, University of Lethbridge biology professors Igor and Olga Kovalchuk have been working with cannabis strains around the world to create new hybrids that have certain therapeutic properties. In February 2021, the pair revealed that the results from their research demonstrate that certain high-CBD cannabis sativas have the potential to become a useful and safe addition to COVID-19 treatment and could be developed into preventative treatments in the form of mouthwash, inhalers, or throat gargles.

While the professors still need to conduct animal and human studies to test the efficacy of the strains, the initial results are very promising. If cannabis mouth rinses prove to be a success, it could bode well for companies already involved in the infused beverages space.

Canadian pharmaceutical and cannabis company Tilray entered the cannabis beverages space in 2019 through a joint venture with the world’s largest brewer and Budweiser’s parent company Anheuser-Busch.

In December 2019, the JV announced that it would be launching CBD-infused teas in Canada, with non-alcoholic sparkling drinks to follow in 2020. In December 2019, their company Fluent Beverages launched its first 98 percent pure CBD-infused beverage.

Canopy Growth entered the cannabis beverage space in 2020 when it received backing from US alcoholic beverage giant Constellation Brands.

The company launched its first THC-infused drink to the Canadian market in March 2020 and has continued to roll out its North American strategy. In November, Canopy expanded its beverage portfolio with a CBD-infused beverage line, which is now being launched in the US.

Molson Coors Canada and Quebec-based cannabis producer HEXO Corp announced a similar partnership in 2019 and finally launched their cannabis-infused beverage to the market in August 2020 under the brand name Truss Beverage.

In January 2021, Truss announced the US launch of Verywell, a new line of non-alcoholic sparkling CBD beverages, which will be available in Colorado.

It’s unclear whether or not cannabis beverage producers will have the opportunity to develop infused drinks with therapeutic properties, but with growing research and development surrounding the potential benefits of cannabis, it could very well become a reality.

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Weekend digest: Six big stories from the cannabis world you might have missed

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Another week, another rollercoaster in the fast-moving world of cannabis.

At Cannabis Health, our in depth coverage of the ongoing growth of cannabis as a medical and wellness product continues

Meanwhile, over at Cannabis Wealth, we’ve been following all the big industry and policy news in a week which has seen some important developments..

Been busy and want to get caught up in a hurry?

Here are the six things you need to read to stay in the loop this week.

1. Products pulled from shelves

Two batches of medical cannabis products have been recalled by regulators as investigations are carried out, following reports they may be contaminated with mould.

Medical cannabis pharmacy, Dispensary Green and the Medicines and Healthcare products Regulatory Agency (MHRA) have issued a ‘precautionary’ product recall since being made aware of ‘defects’ in patient’s medication.

Concerns were initially raised after a number of medical cannabis patients spotted what they believed to be mould spores in their prescriptions.

Full story here.

2. NFL turns to medical cannabis

The National Football League (NFL) in America is providing $1 million in funding for research into pain management and cannabinoids.

The NFL is funding research into medical cannabis.

The pain management committee of the NFL and the NFL Players Association announced it would stump up the funding on Tuesday 8 June.

According to the organisation’s news platform, the move is the next step in a shifting attitude towards players who use medicinal cannabis to manage pain from injuries.

You can read more here.

3. More medical cannabis evidence

Researchers have found that the cannabinoids CBD and CBG, when used in combination, are beneficial for treating inflammation in the lungs.

Scientists at King’s College London, working in collaboration with Sativa Wellness Group have published the first results from a study into the impact of cannabinoids on respiratory diseases.

It aimed to investigate the anti-inflammatory effects of the two non-psychotropic cannabinoids alone and in combination, in a model of pulmonary inflammation.

Full details here.

4. Germany to vote for reform?

Germany’s national election on September 26 could be a landmark moment for Europe’s cannabis industry.

As Chancellor Angela Merkel prepares to leave the stage, the European Union’s most influential country looks destined for a political shakeup.

Annalena Baerbock could become Germany’s first pro-drug reform Chancellor.

It could mark a huge moment for the cannabis industry as Germany’s parliament might swing in favour of legislation.

Here’s everything you need to know about it.

5. Adapt or fail

The pro-drug reform lobby must accept it has failed and change to push its agenda ahead, leading experts have warned.

Speaking at a Global Cannabis Intelligence event about the state of advocacy in the UK, three leading policy advocates set out how they think greater access can be achieved.

The discussion comes week after the 50-year anniversary of the passage of the The Misuse of Drugs Act.

Read the full story here.

6. Isle of Man steps up

The Isle of Man government has declared it is open for business to the medical cannabis industry.

In a big to create 250 new jobs and generate £3m a year for the island, policymakers want it to become ‘a world-leading exporter’.

Applications are now open for licences to produce and distribute treatments on the island, as well as to use it as an export base.

Full details here.

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New tracking app launches for UK medical cannabis patients

Through the app patients will be able to monitor their own symptoms and medication usage

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The free health monitoring app is already being used elsewhere in the world.

UK medical cannabis suppliers Grow Pharma have teamed up with an Australian tech firm to launch a new app for patients.

The partnership with OnTracka will see them launch Calyx, a free health monitoring app already being used elsewhere in the world.

Users will be able to monitor their own symptoms and medication usage, speak securely with their doctor and contribute to gathering evidence about the use of medical cannabis.

The app will also be available in Ireland and the Channel Islands after successful launches in Australia, the US and South America.

Users will be able to monitor their own symptoms and medication usage

Pierre Van Weperen, CEO of Grow Pharma said: “Grow Pharma is currently fulfilling around a third of all prescriptions for the UK’s medicinal cannabis patients.

“Our prominent role gives us a significant advantage to building data insights into how patients are managing their health.

“This is integral to pave the way towards increasing access for patients in the UK through providing doctors with confidence around the safety and efficacy of these products.

“Using the app will generate important insights to provide real-time evidence to doctors and regulators.”

Grow Pharma hopes the app will help ‘rapidly accelerate an understanding of the safety, quality, and efficacy’ of medical cannabis.

Insights gained via the app will ‘advance the industry forward in the service of patients, shaping future legislation and policy based on patient experiences’ by providing real-world data to regulators.

Grow is in the process of raising £6 million worth of capital via a private funding round expect to be completed later this month.

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Isle of Man launches medical cannabis export sector

The Isle of Man is open for business to the medical cannabis industry.

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The move could 250 new jobs and generate £3 million a year for the island

The Isle of Man government has declared it is open for business to the medical cannabis industry.

In a big to create 250 new jobs and generate £3 million a year for the island, policymakers want it to become ‘a world-leading exporter’.

Applications are now open for licences to produce and distribute treatments on the island, as well as to use it as an export base.

The island’s regulator – the Gambling Supervision Commission – has set out conditions for the licensing of high-THC cannabis and hemp.

Enterprise minister Laurence Skelly said: “The growing global medicinal cannabis market provides significant opportunity for economic development in the Isle of Man, and the new regulatory framework and guidance will offer stringent and flexible licensing of a broad range of cannabis products, which ranges from outdoor grown industrial hemp to indoor grown medicinal products.

“The Isle of Man Government has every confidence that the GSC will provide a world class regulatory structure required to regulate this new and complex industry.

The Isle of Man wants to be a major player in Europe’s growing medical cannabis industry.

“I am delighted to welcome licence applications and look forward to attracting quality businesses to the Island, transforming the cannabis export sector into a key contributor to the Isle of Man’s post-Covid economic recovery.”

The self-governing British Crown Dependency, which has a population of 83,000, approved new medical cannabis laws in January.

The island’s parliament – the Tynwald – moved to attract the industry to its shores after a public consultation showed 95 percent of residents were in favour of the policy.

Mark Rutherford, director of policy at the island’s regulator, said: “The GSC already has a sophisticated framework for supervising gambling.

‘We have worked carefully to apply the best of that framework to the risks in the new sector and we have educated ourselves in the technical areas that are new to us.

“What we now have will ensure that all stakeholders will be competent, crime free and capable of building a sector that is safe, trusted and efficient.

“As regulators, we aspire to put our regulatory umbrella above as many consumers as possible so that they can benefit from regulations that are well thought out and properly supervised.

“Years of prohibition mean that the markets in which our licensees will be participating are still in their infancy and still contain many uncertainties.

“To address this situation, it is our aim to ensure that consumers who purchase Isle of Man products will be able to understand exactly what their product contains through accurate labelling and independent testing.

“The GSC recognises there are many stakeholders in this newly created field and intends to extend its ethos of cooperation with other government authorities into its approach to cannabis regulation.”

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