Contributor: JOHN A. COLLINS
Covid-19 has impacted various industries, some quite significantly. Consumer behaviour, business operations, and finances have changed within a short span. Partial lockdowns, furloughs (unpaid, paid or partially paid), loss of income, and social distancing have impacted the social and economic fabric worldwide. The global pandemic is changing a lot, shaping what could be the new-normal even after its containment. Cannabis could also prove to be very useful in battling COVID-19, if we learn how to use it properly.
Home entertainment, online shopping, telemedicine, and working, for instance, have seen a huge boost as the new normal necessitates online and digital access. While online shopping had been gradually growing prior to the lockdown, the pandemic has accelerated their growth as it is no longer a matter of preference but out of necessity. After the pandemic, we are likely to see more people sticking to online access since they offer some benefits, and many become accustomed to doing things this way.
For instance, you no longer have to commute to get a medical card as you can do it online without wasting a day and at the convenience and comfort of your couch. The changes will affect the cannabis industry in various ways, and below is a look at what we can expect.
Greater Acceptance of Medical Cannabis
Cannabis acceptance has grown significantly over the past 10 years, mainly owing to greater understanding of cannabinoids like cannabidiol (CBD), offering the therapeutic effects of cannabis with less of the “high” associated with tetrahydrocannabinol (THC). CBD-infused products, owing to their numerous health benefits, have facilitated the acceptance of cannabis.
As more people continue to be health cautious and adopting holistic approaches, cannabis use will continue to grow. Amidst the Covid-19 pandemic, many people are looking for healthier and safer ways to improve their health. With the readily available information on cannabis and its health benefits, we are likely to see its consumption and acceptance rising as misinformation and stigmatization gradually lessens.
Many states are also seeing the advantages of legalizing cannabis for employment opportunities and tax revenues, as well as ways of reducing the health impact of excessive alcohol consumption (or, indeed, the consumption of more addictive, illicit substances). Cannabis legalization is one way in which states and countries may be able to achieve this.
There is also some promising research going into the COVID-19 prevention capabilities of some cannabis varieties. This is because CBD may be able to inhibit the expression of the receptor, ACE-2, which is the main site the COVID-19 attaches to. Cannabis’s anti-inflammatory properties may also help regulate the immune system and prevent cytokine storms, which is when the immune system goes out-of-control and the inflammatory processes become more damaging than beneficial.
Growing Your Own Cannabis and Self-Sufficiency
In this context, home-grown cannabis is likely to rise, especially with more states legalizing it. Its affordability and readily available information will also enhance the course progress, and in a few years, home-grown cannabis is likely to be a norm.
Streamlined Medical Cannabis Dispensary Operations
“Out of adversity comes opportunity”. If there were a perfect moment such an expression to take root, this would be it, primarily as more dispensaries among other stakeholders work to streamline their systems to eliminate inefficiencies. As online shopping gets a significant boost amidst the pandemic, more stakeholders are likely to merge, with smaller players more likely to be bought by bigger enterprises as they can’t afford to operate in such a market.
This will significantly benefit some types of operation, with deliveries and curbside pickups being among the big winners as consumers enjoy less friction in their shopping quests. With enhanced technology, the changes are inevitable, only that the pandemic will force the players’ hands to fast- track the process to keep up with the new normal.
As states strive to gain a balance after Covid-19, cannabis could be among the big winners, with more investments in medical research being a priority, as well as tax revenue streams being considered for financial stability. We could see significant increases in cannabis research funding, as well as legalization, to create more revenue streams.