In March 2020, developments on the subject of the newly discovered virus COVID-191 became the focus of interest for all levels and in all areas of society here in Germany too. At that time, very little was known about the virus, either nationally or internationally, and there was also hardly any experience in relation to well- suited treatment options in the event that infection actually triggers illness. Amidst this crisis-driven feeling of helplessness, many initiatives arose from many sides with the aim of introducing observational studies and everyday experience into the search for solutions to these dilemmas. Attention also fell on cannabis and its use as a medicine. The scientific findings available on this subject at the time already indicated that targeted use of cannabis in association with COVID-19-related precautions, prevention, treatment and aftercare could yield promising results (cf. Excursus).
An “Interdisciplinary Cannabis Research Network” has been developed and managed at the Hochschule Merseburg for many years. This network brings together expertise on the subject of industrial hemp along with research into the medicinal use of cannabis. Thus, as part of a research project for many years we have been collecting and assessing a pool of case reports on patients who have, on their own initiative, integrated cannabis into the treatment of suffering and disease states (hereinafter referred to as “self-care”). This was the starting point for the idea of investigating the question as to whether persons who had been given a positive test result for COVID-19 or who had even developed symptoms of the disease after infection were using cannabis in a targeted manner to manage their situation and if so, what experience they gained with that.
In view of the fact that hardly any research funds were available at the time, the aim of this project could only be to initiate an exploratory study to follow up on the observational experiences of those affected. The question was whether the practical application of cannabis by those affected gave any indication that cannabis lent itself to use as an agent for prevention, treatment or aftercare in relation to COVID-19. We were interested to know if there was practical experience which could underpin the already existing pharmacological and infectiological studies on the subject of “Cannabis and infectious diseases” and in this way provide indications about what the search strategies should be in future, more sophisticated studies.