Covid-19 and cannabis – Black market supply is more dangerous to patients than ever.

Alex FraserThoughts

Patients with certain chronic conditions should rightly be concerned about the outbreak of Covid-19. Many of the patients we work with at Logist fall into the more vulnerable groups with regards to the threat from the virus. We can only guess what number of the estimated 1.4m patients using illegally sourced cannabis also fall into this category. 

I am in a fortunate position to know the finer details of both illegal and prescribed supply of cannabis to patients. Stuck self-isolating at home, I have had much time to think about the impact of Covid on patients who consume cannabis for medical purposes and, again and again, I keep coming back to the same concern:

How can vulnerable patients sourcing cannabis illegally, via the black market, ensure that these products are not contaminated and are safe for consumption?

Black market cannabis is, by definition, unregulated, inconsistent with regards to quality and supply and nearly always from a source unknown to the end consumer with an unknown number of individuals involved in the supply chain. All of this presents a risk for patients even in “normal” times. During the outbreak of Covid some, if not all, of these risks are amplified. Combined with the risk of directly contracting Covid from illegally-sourced product, patients would be foolish not to consider alternatives.

Fortunately, Logist are here to help. We put a huge amount of effort and time into ensuring our medicines are uncontaminated and securely delivered to patients. Our pharmacy partners IPS have over 150 procedures to comply with, all to ensure safe, clean and consistent supply.

The Basics:

  • We strictly import only medicines which meet strict EU GMP criteria. 
  • We perform a full content analysis of all products to ensure none contain contaminants or heavy metals or are above the permitted limits of bioburden (bacterial content). 
  • All manufacturing of medicines is done in “cleanrooms” with sterile laboratory conditions and all personnel are required to wear protective clothing including face masks. 
  • All products are stored under controlled temperature and delivered the same way passports are delivered – by secure courier. 
  • We can deliver straight to your door so you can continue to self-isolate inside.
A sneak-peek at our pharmacy staff hard at work.

Illegally sourced cannabis is a completely different story. Even the best growers cannot ensure that their products are completely safe and clean. Most small time black market cultivators grow at home in a spare room, outdoors or in garages. Although I can’t confirm, I doubt many wear protective equipment despite an extensive process the cannabis must go through before it is ready for sale, most of which is done by hand. This includes the potting and growing of the plants, harvesting, drying and trimming before allowing them to cure (a process that can take weeks). 

Black-market cannabis being trimmed by hand.

On the prescribed side of cultivation, plants are grown in large-scale GMP facilities and these processes are nearly entirely done by machines. You can watch Cam Batley from Aurora (one of our exclusive licensed producers) taking a quick tour of their Canadian grow facility in this short clip :

Please bear in mind this clip was filmed a year prior to Covid-19. All of our producers have since significantly increased their measures to avoid contamination. Also worth knowing that our UK supply is not shipped from Canada but from one of Aurora’s european facilities.

The dark side of the black market.

Many patients who purchase through the black market have no idea where their cannabis comes from or how many hands it has passed through before reaching them. Tragically, the darker sides of this supply chain sees child slaves working in cannabis farms, often the victims of human trafficking from east Asia. Other patients report resorting to contacting sellers on the dark web, alongside sellers of various illicit pornography and weapons or meeting dealers on the street where they are vulnerable to mugging. All this before we even begin to discuss patients being scammed by dealers and fake suppliers, an issue on which I could (and probably shall) write another lengthy piece. Needless to say, these are all issues that are entirely absent from the pharmaceutical supply chain.

Secure supply – reduced cost.

Of course, Covid presents a threat to many supply chains, we have all seen what happens when the media generates fear of scarcity in products deemed essential such as toilet roll. You can be certain that we are doing all we can to ensure consistent and timely supply of medicines for all of our patients. We have experienced a few minor delays, but have no reason to believe our supply chains will be interrupted throughout the lock-down. Whilst the Grow Biotech team stays home to minimise spread of Covid, our pharmacy partners IPS are still in the office ensuring the supply of the many essential medicines they provide.

At Logist, we can also promise no increase in cost, in fact, quite the opposite as we continue to reduce costs for patients. It will likely be no surprise that the black market is already seeing the beginnings of a drought, something not unheard of pre-Covid. This has led to black market sellers increasing prices, taking advantage of the scarcity, much like those hiking the price of hand-sanitiser. 

Another issue for patients during this time is that their doctor may be busy dealing with the Covid outbreak and unable to see their patients. When a patient is issued a prescription of cannabis medicines they are required to undertake a consultation every 28 days to follow up and so the doctor can reissue the prescription. This means that patients on these medicines will be able to have regular contact with their specialist doctor throughout the lock-down. Due to Covid these consultations are now entirely done over the phone and many clinics have reduced the cost of these consultations to further assist patients at this difficult time.

At Logist we understand these are worrying times for patients and we want to make sure that patients looking to access cannabis medicines feel confident that they are in the best hands and that their supply of medicine is secure, clean and will not be interrupted. We hope that this, and our many other articles on our site are helpful for patients, but if there are any questions or concerns unanswered we are here for you. Please get in touch via phone or email using the details at the bottom of the page.

For more information on the Covid-19 virus and what this means for patients please check the NHS website.