Cannabis and Coronavirus: Industry Offers Essential Services, Crucial Research

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PHOTO: Nhemz/Shutterstock.com.

Ed. Note: This story is part of a continuing series about the cannabis industry’s humanitarian efforts during the coronavirus, COVID-19 pandemic.


As global pandemic “safer at home” protocols approached the six-week mark, the cannabis industry continued to provide essential services to consumers in the U.S., Canada, and abroad. Some companies stepped up humanitarian efforts while others engaged in potentially life-saving research to aid in the search for effective coronavirus treatments.

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Cannabis employment agency Vangst launched new website features to help employers upload available job information, as well as connect them with qualified job seekers using more seamless, time-saving, cost-cutting tools. The new features will be offered for free on Vangst.com, for “as long as needed.”

According to the company, employers utilizing the new features can expect “more successful matches through Vangst-Verified, a unique screening process that ensures each candidate is personally endorsed by a Vangst team member for quality and commitment.”

The features, Vangst said, are part of a previously planned website redesign that was fast-tracked because of the COVID-19 crisis. With pandemic restrictions scheduled to lighten by mid-May and already being loosened in some states, those left unemployed by the pandemic now face daunting job searches, which is where Vangst hopes to help.

“While we’ve been planning our new feature offerings and our Vangst.com digital refresh for quite some time now, the effects of the coronavirus pandemic on our industry and economy are what catalyzed our decision to accelerate our launch schedule and also provide the new digital talent matching services for free. We feel we have a responsibility to ensure our candidate community has access to as many jobs as possible, and that is why we are allowing cannabis businesses to post any job, completely free, no strings attached,” Vangst Chief Executive Officer Karson Humiston told mgRetailer.

“We plan on keeping this service free for as long as we can to help the cannabis industry get back on its feet as the economy slowly begins to reopen. While there may be changes to our product and pricing strategy down the road; for the immediate future our focus is on ensuring we’re making these tools as accessible as we can to the cannabis job seekers and employers who are responsible for powering our industry,” Humiston continued.

Canadian cannabis producer Neptune Wellness Solutions, Inc., parent company of Biodroga, announced that the companies have enabled their facility to produce one million units of hand sanitizer in 2oz, 4oz., 6oz., 8oz., 16oz., one liter, and one gallon sizes. Neptune said scaling up production will allow the company to supply increased demand for hand sanitizers in North America.

“I could not be more proud of how our entire team has mobilized to leverage our collective expertise in procurement, manufacturing, product innovation, supply chain management and regulatory affairs to bring significant and continuous supply of hand sanitizer gel to market ahead of schedule during this critical stage in the battle against COVID-19,” said Neptune Wellness Solutions Chief Executive Officer Michael Cammarata.

“We are rapidly responding to the needs of North Americans and playing a key role in meeting customer demand for safe and effective hand sanitizer to help prevent the spread of germs and protect consumer health,” Cammarata said.

Israel-based medical CBD developer Stero Biotechs Ltd. has collaborated with its main partner and shareholder Mor Research Applications, to conducted small-scale clinical trials of a CBD formulation that may help boost steroidal treatments for patients suffering from coronavirus.

“Steroid treatment is usually the first or second line of treatment for hospitalized patients. CBD enhances the therapeutic effect of steroid treatment and treats the bio-mechanism affected by the virus. The initial study will evaluate the tolerability, safety, and efficacy of the CBD treatment, for hospitalized patients with COVID-19 infections,” Stero Biotechs said in a press release.

“We estimate that our CBD-based treatment can enhance the current treatment of those patients who are in life-threatening conditions. Hospitalized COVID-19 patients are mostly being treated with steroids and our study is planned to demonstrate the benefit of a combined solution with steroid treatments. We are hopeful that this study will lead to faster benefit for the growing number of COVID-19 patients in Israel and around the world,” said David Bassa, founder and chief executive officer at Stero Biotechs.

The company hopes that when the first trial (with ten study subjects) is completed, it can then move to trials with an increased numbers of patients. The first trial is scheduled to take place at Rabin Medical Center Golda HaSharon Campus.

Similar studies are taking place in Tel Aviv, which would evaluate the effectiveness of medicinal CBD formulations in treating inflammation caused by coronavirus. Professor Dudi Meiri of Technion, Israel Institute of Technology, will lead the trials, in partnership with Cannasoul Analytics Ltd.

“Our lab has been approved to operate as a coronavirus lab, and we are currently promoting two studies based on existing cannabis studies,” Professor Meiri, who is leading the Technion’s team, told Israeli news platform Calcalist.

“First, we will try to identify the plant’s immune cells that are capable of suppressing the immune response to the coronavirus, which causes inflammation and disease. Cannabis plant molecules have the ability to lower the immune system response without suppressing it entirely, thereby providing better complementary treatment than steroids, which completely suppress the immune system,” Meiri explained.

Israel-based InnoCan Pharma Ltd., also will fund CBD-based, COVID-19 drug research at Tel Aviv University. The company will donate $450,000 for research and development related to CBD formulations that could treat lung inflammation caused by the novel coronavirus.

In March, Israel-based cannabis producers Cannbit Pharmaceuticals Ltd. partnered with research firm Migal Institute (The Galilee Research Institute) to develop coronavirus treatments utilizing Cannbit’s CBD-rich cannabis oil extract.

Migal Institute was successful in formulating a vaccine for coronavirus in poultry, which apparently has many of the same characteristics as coronavirus in humans. In late February, Migal Institute Chief Executive Officer David Zigdon, said the company hoped to have a coronavirus vaccine for humans ready within ten weeks.

Israel has evolved as a hub for research and development in cannabis medicine since the 1970s, when esteemed biochemist Raphael Mechoulam first discovered cannabinoid compounds in cannabis, including psychoactive cannabinoid THC.

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