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



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.

Sarah Sinclair is a respected cannabis journalist writing on subjects related to science, medicine, research, health and wellness. She is managing editor of Cannabis Health, the UK’s leading title covering medical cannabis and CBD, and sister titles, Cannabis Wealth and Psychedelic Health. Sarah has an NCTJ journalism qualification and an MA in Journalism from the University of Sunderland. Sarah has over six years experience working on newspapers, magazines and digital-first titles, the last two of which have been in the cannabis sector. She has also completed training through the Medical Cannabis Clinicians Society securing a certificate in Medical Cannabis Explained. She is a member of PLEA’s (Patient-Led Engagement for Access) advisory board, has hosted several webinars on cannabis and women's health and has moderated at industry events such as Cannabis Europa. Sarah Sinclair is the editor of Cannabis Health. Got a story? Email / Follow us on Twitter: @CannabisHNews / Instagram: @cannabishealthmag


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