What Role Can Medical Cannabis Play In Addressing The Mental Health Repercussions Of The Pandemic? Hint: A Big One!

By: Tommy Huppert – CEO, Founder at Cannatrek

A few years back I met a first responder at an international trauma conference. The meeting stuck with me for the simple fact that when I told him what industry I was in, he responded “I wish I could use cannabis to help manage my stress, but first responders get drug tested, so it’s not an option. I could lose my job.”

I recall this encounter as I contemplate the many people affected by the repercussions of the COVID pandemic, together with the ongoing lockdown situation in Melbourne, Australia – those suffering from stress, anxiety, diminished health and mental wellbeing. Health workers and first responders are most obviously the front line, but they’re not alone. In this pandemic, our collective front line includes education, transport, essential service and logistical workers. Some of us are in lockdown at home and others are working double-overtime. We have all been stretched beyond our limits one way or another, as we wade through our first worldwide pandemic.

Psychological support workers have been inundated. As has Cannatrek’s hotline. The rise in stress levels, depression, anxiety, sleeplessness is very real and recognised. International experience reveals that the COVID 19 virus can have negative health aftereffects for many people, now known as long COVID.

I’ve heard a lot about the problems, from lowered productivity to increased hospitalisations.

I haven’t heard enough about the solutions.

The problem doesn’t simply disappear when physical freedoms return.  Vaccinations are no cure for the psychological effects of the hidden traumas being experienced which can appear at any time. Long COVID is a condition that we are only beginning to understand.

In the absence of a road map for managing the longer-term psychological and mental health implications of the COVID pandemic, I want to step forward on behalf of the cannabis industry to offer some hope. Medical cannabis companies provide regulated products available and authorised for therapeutic use. Medical Cannabis can legally be prescribed by any doctor in Australia for eligible patients. 

A good night’s sleep goes a long way to mitigate stress and anxiety in many people’s lives.

With increasing real-world evidence, such as that being collected through the Cannatrek personal monitoring app about to be launched, our knowledge on how best to individualise cannabis treatment is being refined. We have resources at our fingertips.

I’m looking forward, as much as the next person, to ending the lockdowns. But there is bigger problem at hand. Let’s not wait until after the direct health crisis has waned to start remedying the secondary fallout of the pandemic on people’s health and wellbeing.

My company and many others are ready and waiting to assist doctors, patients and governments in managing immediate and longer-term consequences of this pandemic on people’s wellbeing using our knowledge of cannabis therapy.

The medicinal cannabis industry is right here, sitting on the bench, waiting to be called up. So to all Australian healthcare professionals out there – put us on the field. We’re built for this.

Sustainable Cannabis Is Transforming The Industry

By: Tommy Huppert – CEO, Founder at Cannatrek

Australia’s new policy of net zero emissions by 2050 is not just a moral ambition but a seismic economic and cultural shift. All industries will have to adapt previous practices to the new world order which will have a high emphasis on circular economy, innovation for sustainability as well as ethical investment. Those who are slow to jump on the wagon will be dragged behind it.

In the cannabis industry we are (again) poised to lead the field for a number of reasons:
  1. 1. Our investments have often involved long term thinking, seeing the bigger picture rather than just short-term gains.
  2. 2. As relative newcomers, adaptation and change is less burdensome. We have overcome many barriers in actualising our vision and we are resilient.
  3. 3. The cannabis industry and innovation are already good friends.
  4. 4. Working with the miracle of plants, many in our industry hold a relatively high sense of responsibility to mother nature.

In practice this means the cannabis industry, from growers to product manufacturers, need to not only mitigate, but transform any harmful aspects of our industry, like soil degradation, waste disposal, energy costs and packaging.

Here’s how the transformation can look. Cannatrek is launching its Shepparton operation which ticks all the boxes. The Shepparton operation is energy independent, aiming for 100% renewables. Relying on a mix of clean solar energy and future energy hydrogen, pollutants like diesel are stored as back-up only, so we have completely upended the energy equation.

We implemented a circular economy in the facility by taking side-products and waste for reuse and producing plant-based packaging. The pharmaceutical industry has a long way to go to convert from its religious reliance on single use plastics.

Plants replacing plastics is the future, but hemp cellulose-plastic is in fact not new. Diverse use of the ancient cannabis plant is undergoing a much needed renaissance. If in 1941 Henry Ford had already investigated the ways that hemp could be used in the production of a motor vehicle, then in 2021 it could and should have been in widespread use and saved us countless environmental damages.

Location is essential for sustainability. From transport to soil use, the implications for the planet of not just what and how we grow, but where we grow cannot be understated. Access to rain water and clean water for agricultural production was the reason to build our new facility in the Goulburn Valley, the fruit capital of Australia.

As a cannabis industry leader in Australia, we have built sustainability into our business model from day one.

But where does that leave us in relation to the global cannabis market?  World leaders are increasingly on the same page and the commitments that many countries have taken to the UN Climate Summit called COP26 will translate into national policies across the globe, for example by including emission costs and penalties in international trade agreements.

I feel lucky to be in Australia where we have the ability to jump on the wagon early and teach others how it’s done. We’re not perfect but we’re getting there.