Article by Sam Riches, Growth Op
Toronto-based Cannalogue, an e-commerce medical cannabis platform, has submitted an application to Health Canada to study the impact of cannabis on coronavirus. They believe compounds in the plant may be able to reduce the severity of COVID-19 symptoms.
Dr. Mohan Cooray, the CEO of Cannalogue and a gastroenterologist at the Michael Garron Hospital in Toronto, says the company has been in contact with Health Canada since December to expedite the trial.
“We’re really focusing on trying to reduce the severity of symptoms and maybe hoping to impact some of the fatalities that are happening, especially locally,” Dr. Cooray told The GrowthOp. “So I would hope that it’s going to be short and exceptions are made given the urgency and the priorities that we’re talking about here.”
Dr. Cooray says they are focusing on the impact medical cannabis, and CBD specifically, could have on coronavirus once it binds to CB2 receptors in the immune system.
“The naturally occurring immunomodulatory property of cannabinoids may dampen the signals that produce the exaggerated inflammatory response from the host in response to COVID-19,” he says.
Little is known about how cannabis interacts with coronavirus, but immediate speculation suggested that THC may make symptoms worse for those infected with the disease.
“We know that the epidemiology of COVID-19 is similar to the influenza virus and has a similar disease presentation,” Julie Armstrong, CEO of Aurelius Data, said earlier this month. “And we know that in studies where THC was administered to mice with influenza, we saw an increase in viral loads and a decrease in the immune system to fight off the virus.”
CBD is different, however, and it warrants further investigation, Dr. Cooray says.
“Nobody’s saying here that medical cannabis is effective against any viral infection, let alone COVID-19. However, under the circumstances, where a mortality rate is hovering around 4.4 per cent and potentially, just based on the severity that we’re seeing, could go towards five per cent and beyond, we’re talking about hundreds of millions of deaths globally,” he says.
“Under these circumstances, what we’re really saying here is that it does merit scientific exploration in an expedited fashion, where we don’t make any claims until we are able to support it.”
Cannalogue launched earlier this month and its origins trace back to Dr. Cooray’s post-graduate studies in internal medicine at McMaster University, where he first noticed the therapeutic potential of medical cannabis.
“When I started my practice, over five years ago, I was very skeptical about the role, if any, of cannabinoids in digestive diseases. I didn’t think this stuff worked at all,” he says.