Few things fuel more heated debate than the topic of vaccination, even long before COVID-19 times.
These days, the discussion of a vaccination still brings up heated discussions – whether you’re for or against it, and whether or not it may bring about ill side effects. However, officials are urging the general public to try and get their vaccines as soon as possible for the safety of the overall population.
In Washington DC, some activists under the name DC Marijuana Justice (DCMJ) have come up with a creative way to encourage the people to get vaccinated: by offering free bags of cannabis at various vaccination locations around town. The project, called Joints for Jabs , hopes to use the incentive to bring in people who are afraid or skeptical of the vaccine. They also intend to use this opportunity to educate people. However, instead of actually offering free joints, they will be utilizing volunteers that are dressed with the proper pandemic-safe attire (gloves and masks), handing out individual bags.
It’s also interesting to note that DCMJ are the same people behind initiative 71 passed 6 years ago, which was instrumental in legalizing the possession of cannabis.
DCMJ also wants to get the message across that for people to share a joint safely without risking the spread of the virus, everyone must be vaccinated. Though the District of Columbia’s Department of Health has yet to name the vaccination sites, DCMJ will follow through on the initiative by releasing their Joints for Jabs site, dates available, and the hours of operation. In a press release, they stated that “this community effort aims to highlight the need for further local and national cannabis reform while also advocating for equitable distribution of the critical vaccine.”
“We are looking for ways to safely celebrate the end of the pandemic and we know nothing brings people together like cannabis,” explains Nikolas Schiller, DCMJ co-founder. “DCMJ believes that cannabis should be consumed safely and responsibly, and the pandemic has made this incredibly difficult for many adults to share their homegrown cannabis. When enough adults are inoculated with the coronavirus vaccine, it will be time to celebrate – not just the end of the pandemic, but the beginning of the end of cannabis prohibition in the United States.”
“To celebrate this momentous occasion and thank people for getting vaccinated, dozens of DC home-growers will lawfully distribute free bags of cannabis outside vaccination centres as soon as the general public is able to get vaccinated,” adds a release from the group.
“I want people to get the shots and to know they are appreciated for doing so,” Eidinger writes to VICE Motherboard on an email. “We also see the vaccination center as a place for education and outreach as well as to mobilize people to let lawmakers know they want to protect and even expand home grow rights in the District and to allow adults to buy and sell cannabis. We want to end the intense policing of Black communities too as it’s completely connected to marijuana enforcement to this day,” he says.
They have also announced that the giveaways will be postponed until the summer months at the very least. This is because they don’t expect that enough citizens will be vaccinated by January 20, 2021 which is when President Joe Biden was sworn into presidency. “While no legislation is perfect, the MORE Act addresses many demands that DC Marijuana Justice has been making for years,” says DCMJ co-founder Adam Eidinger, who also proposed Initiative 71. “We asked Presidents Obama and Trump, and now we are asking President-Elect Biden to take executive action on cannabis reform within the first 100 days.”
Timely Joint Partnership
It makes sense to pair cannabis with COVID-19 vaccines; after all, cannabis has shown to be promising in the search for a cure or treatment for this horrible virus.
There have been several studies showing the potential of marijuana for treating the virus and its symptoms, and these studies shouldn’t be ignored. A recent one conducted by researchers from the University of Lethbridge in Canada together with cannabis research firms Swysh Inc and Pathway RX discovered that extracts from the Cannabis sativa plant may be helpful in preventing infection from the virus. They found that these extracts impact the expressions of proteins known as ACE2 and TMPRSS2, which act as the virus’ entry points. “While our most effective extracts require further large-scale validation, our study is crucial for the future analysis of the effects of medical cannabis on COVID-19,” they write. “The extracts of our most successful and novel high CBD C. sativa lines, pending further investigation, may become a useful and safe addition to the treatment of COVID-19 as adjunct therapy.”
“The key thing is not that any cannabis you would pick up at the store will do the trick,” explains one of the researchers, Olga Kovalchuk tells CTV News. What’s important is that you use strains that are particularly high in CBD, which is famous for its anti-inflammatory properties.
Meanwhile, other studies show that cannabis is beneficial in addressing a hallmark fatal indicator of the disease, the cytokine storm. “Cytokines will normally help to create inflammation to fight off infections,” says Emily Earlenbaugh, a co-founder for Mindfulness Cannabis Consulting and a contributor at Forbes. “But in these extreme cases, you see so much cytokines being released into the system that it creates a cytokine storm. You might see high fever, inflammation, severe fatigue and nausea, and in serious cases, it can lead to death through organ failure,” she tells CBS News.
Certainly, we do need more studies but these are terrific starting points and scientists are already underway working on more that we are sure to see later in the year.