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Webinar: Leafwell & PotGuide Discuss The Impact of COVID-19 on Mental Health & Why Cannabis Can Help

Emily Fisher
Emily Fisher - CEO

May 13 2020 - 6 min read

Leafwell and PotGuide Hosted a Webinar on Medical Cannabis for Mental Health During the Coronavirus Pandemic

Landscape Poster for Webinar - Cannabis for Mental Health with Leafwell and PotGuide on Wednesday 20th May, 2020
Cannabis for Mental Health, with Leafwell and

Tune in on Wednesday May 20th @ 5pm PDT/  8pm EDT

Busting Myths and Challenging Misconceptions

The chance to get your questions answered by doctors and patients.
How to use cannabis for depression & anxiety


Feel free to check out, like and share more about Leafwell and PotGuide here:

Table of contents
  1. Introduction – Medical Cannabis and Mental Health
  2. COVID-19’s Impact on Mental Health
  3. Medical Cannabis for AnxietyMedical Cannabis for Depression
  4. Medical Cannabis for PTSD
  5. Additional Benefits of Medical Cannabis for Other Mental Health Issues
  6. Could Medical Cannabis Help Treat COVID-19?
  7. Conclusion

Introduction – Medical Cannabis and Mental Health

One of the most overlooked health issues when it comes to being cooped up indoors all day is the impact such a lifestyle has on mental health. Cabin fever is a very real phenomenon, and can lead to a sense of claustrophobia, irritability and restlessness. Because of this, Leafwell is teaming up with to look at how and why cannabis could be a very useful treatment for the stress, anxiety and depression staying at home all day can cause.We will ask both doctors and patients on how best to use cannabis for mental health concerns during lockdown.

Here’s the details of the event …

COVID-19’s Impact on Mental Health

For those with anxiety, depression, PTSD, substance misuse disorders or dementia, the impact on mental health of having to Shelter in Place is magnified. The ability to keep in contact with support networks, spend time outside in nature and take part in sports and other social activities are restricted. The usual coping skills are taken away and ultimately mental health issues are made worse.

There are some interesting preliminary findings (data is still being collected) on COVID-19’s impact on mental health, including an increase in the reported rates of depression and anxiety. Key findings from Healthline’s survey and YouGov’s polls so far show that:

  • 3 out of 5 U.S. adults are afraid of contracting the virus.
  • 49% of U.S. citizens are experiencing elevated levels of anxiety and depression, with 21% being in the moderate to severe range.
  • Common concerns include dealing with isolation, who is at higher risk of suffering from the virus, and grief & trauma counselling.


There is also “anticipation” anxiety – worry and stress about what the future holds. Many are worried about jobs, their friends & family, and whether or not there will be more waves of the pandemic.

Whilst we do not have too many definitive statistics on the impact of COVID-19 on mental health at the moment, we can certainly look at past events and say, “This will more than likely have an impact on short- and long- term mental (and physical) help.” To give an illustration:

“5% of the population affected by Hurricane Ike in 2008 met the criteria for major depressive disorder in the month after the hurricane; 1 out of 10 adults in New York City showed signs of the disorder in the month following the 9/11 attacks.2,3 And almost 25% of New Yorkers reported increased alcohol use after the attacks.4 Communities affected by the Deepwater Horizon oil spill showed signs of clinically significant depression and anxiety.5 The SARS epidemic was also associated with increases in PTSD, stress, and psychological distress in patients and clinicians.6 For such events, the impact on mental health can occur in the immediate aftermath and then persist over long time periods.”

How Cannabis Can Help with Mental Health During COVID-19

Many states declared medical cannabis an essential service, and the start of the pandemic saw many people stocking up on their cannabis supplies. One of the given reasons for doing so for many is for the calming, anti-anxiety effects needed when being stuck indoors everyday. Many also need it as a way of treating pain, nausea and insomnia. Another is that cannabis acts as an alternative to alcohol – a way in which to “switch off” at the end of a stressful day with less of the addiction potential and hangover!

Depression; cannabis for depression; medical condition; cannabinoids.

Here’s more on why cannabis can help for anxiety, depression and PTSD.

Medical Cannabis for Anxiety

  • CBD may improve regional cerebral blood flow, helping reduce anxiety.
  • Anxiety is often comorbid with conditions such as depression and bipolar disorder, and also plays a part in IBS.
  • Affects approx 40 million adults (18.1%) in the U.S.
  • Antidepressants, in particular SSRIs, are often used for anxiety.
  • In some instances, benzodiazepines are prescribed.
  • Cannabinoids could be an ideal alternative to benzos in particular.
  • Low amounts of THC may reduce anxiety, whilst high amounts of THC may increase anxiety.
  • Linalool, borneol and beta-caryophyllene also help reduce stress.

Medical Cannabis for Depression

  • Depression is the most common health problem in the U.S., affecting just over 26% of the population. Those with recurrent depression can expect their life expectancy to be shortened by 7 – 11 years.
  • Depression can also dampen the immune system and make one more prone to illness.
    SSRIs are often prescribed, and there is a lot of debate on whether or not they work for depression.
  • Many different types of antidepressants may need to be tried before an effective one is found.
  • Cannabinoids have a more immediate effect, so patients can gauge more effectively if it works.
  • Cannabinoids have antidepressant-like qualities, increasing the amount of serotonin available in the body.
  • Small amounts of THC may be of particular use, as could pinene, beta-caryophyllene and limonene.
  • CBD may also help due to its anxiolytic effects.

Medical Cannabis for PTSD

  • Approximately 5% of Americans – around 13 million people – have PTSD at any one given time.
  • PTSD usually arises after witnessing and/or experiencing a traumatic event. It is estimated that approximately 8% of adults, or 1 in 13 people, in the US will develop PTSD during their lifetime.
  • PTSD is associated with an increased risk of suicide and drugs abuse.
    Benzodiazepines are often prescribed for PTSD, despite that they can make PTSD worse.
  • Night terrors are common in those with PTSD THC can help a patient get more restful sleep.
  • THC, CBD, CBG and CBN may be of particular use for PTSD.
  • Limonene, bisabolol, myrcene, pinene, beta-caryophyllene and humulene may be helpful.

For ideal efficacy of cannabis treatment for mental health, it needs to be integrated with other effective treatment methods. This includes following a healthy diet, exercise, maintaining social relations (in particular actually speaking to someone and hearing their voice), maintaining hobbies that challenge the mind like playing instruments, art, reading, playing games etc., and online group and/or individual therapy via telehealth.

Additional Benefits of Medical Cannabis for Other Mental Health Issues

Dysregulation of the endocannabinoid system is implicated in the development of many neuropsychiatric disorders, including depression, anxiety and schizophrenia.

Whilst THC  may not be useful for mental health problems associated with psychosis, CBD may have antipsychotic properties.

Cannabis contains many terpenes that have anxiolytic and antidepressant effects, including myrcene, limonene, pinene, linalool and many more. The cannabinoid-terpene Beta-caryophyllene has an affinity for CB2 receptors and can help reduce pain, inflammation, cravings for alcohol, and improve mood.

Anti-inflammatory effects of cannabinoids can help in exercise recovery.

Could Medical Cannabis Help Treat COVID-19?

This is a question we explore in more thorough detail here. The answer at the moment is “unlikely”. Here’s a little bit more on how cannabinoids may (and may not) be of use:

Inflammation can be a beneficial response to beating viral infections. Cannabinoids’ anti-inflammatory properties may prevent viral infections from being beaten effectively.

Smoking cannabis is not an ideal method of ingestion, especially as COVID-19 is a lung infection.

Cannabinoids’ anti-inflammatory properties could potentially be useful in helping treat the overreaction of the body’s immune system (“cytokine storm”) once the initial infection has been beaten. Researchers in Israel are looking at CBD and various terpenes for the treatment of COVID-19 for this very reason.

The anxiolytic, appetite-promoting, stress-beating, sleep-inducing effects of cannabinoids can help keep the immune system ready to battle infections.

Cannabinoids like cannabigerol (CBG) have antibacterial properties that could potentially help prevent secondary infections.

An Alberta researcher has found that using certain strains of cannabis may ensure a less fertile ground or COVID-19 to take root. This is because cannabinoids may block the ACE-2 (angiotensin converting enzyme-2) receptos, which is the entry point for SARS-CoV2. ACE-2 receptors are found in the lungs, arteries, heart, kidney and intestines and play an important role in protecting the lungs and other organs. Peer review and clinical trials are needed to find out more about the efficacy of cannabis for COVID-19.

Should the results from these studies prove positive, mouthwashed and inhalers may be developed with specific terpene and cannabinoid profiles for help in clearing the lungs and airways.

Inflammation is a part of almost every disease state or injury. In different conditions, different inflammatory pathways are activated. In some instances, cannabinoids may help; in others it may hinder. More studies need to be done in order to find out which inflammatory pathways are involved in the development of different conditions, and how cannabinoids affect these pathways.

There are few studies looking at the impact of cannabinoids on specific types of virus. We do not know enough about the novel Coronavirus COVID-19, let alone how cannabinoids (many of which are federally illegal) interact with an entirely new type of viral infection!

Image by Gerd Altman from Pixabay.


Cannabis is potentially very useful for treating a variety of mental health issues in adults during the COVID-19 crisis. However, for cannabis to be truly effective, it is important to keep up with other forms of therapy that are being undertaken. Doing the basics like eating, sleeping and exercising properly will also help, and cannabis can help with all of these. High THC cannabis varieties and products may not be ideal for some kinds of mental health issues, but others may find some use in small doses of THC. CBD, meanwhile, seems to have significant therapeutic benefit for many kinds of neuropsychiatric disorders.

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Article by Dipak Hemraj – Head of Research, Leafwell.

Written by
Emily Fisher
Emily Fisher - CEO

Emily is an entrepreneur and medical cannabis patient. In 2016 she began working with medical clinics in California and met with hundreds of patients who used cannabis to help them in their daily lives. Fascinated by its effectiveness and versatility as a medicine, she realized more research and education was needed to help patients. In 2019, Emily founded Leafwell, which aims to improve patient access to medical cannabis.

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