Can cannabis treatment for coronavirus?

Stephen Silver

The news with potential to make a lot of people very happy, some research out of Canada is showing that some strains of Cannabis sativa —the plant used in the production of marijuana—have potential to combat the COVID-19 coronavirus.

Scientists from the University of Lethbridge, working in conjunction with cannabis research firms Pathway RX and Swysh, say that they have “found that specific Cannabis sativa extracts show promise as an additional treatment for COVID-19.” The study finds that some of the strains prevent the coronavirus from entering host cells.

However, like a lot of the academic and drug company work that has been reported in the last two months in relation to coronavirus, the research has not been peer-reviewed, nor has it even been officially published. The authors of the study say in the announcement that they “recently submitted a paper about their research study… to a journal for publication and their manuscript has been uploaded to Preprints.”

The authors also admit that their most successful extracts “require further validation in a large-scale analysis and an animal model.”

This isn’t the first time the question has been raised of whether cannabis can have a role to play in the treatment of the coronavirus pandemic. An April article in Leafly quoted one expert, Donald Tashkin of UCLA, as stating that “smoking anything increases risk.”

While experts quoted in that story agreed that cannabis-derived products have anti-inflammatory properties, they cautioned it is too early to determine whether such products have a role to play in combating the pandemic.

In early April Kyle Turley, a former NFL player who now runs a marijuana dispensary in California, was warned in a letter by the Food and Drug Administration and Federal Trade Commission to stop claiming that CBD oil could cure the coronavirus.

“Your website offers cannabidiol (CBD) products for sale in the United States and that these products are intended to mitigate, prevent, treat, diagnose, or cure COVID-19 in people,” the letter said. “We request that you take immediate action to cease the sale of such unapproved and unauthorized products for the mitigation, prevention, treatment, diagnosis, or cure of COVID-19.”

Turley has since removed certain claims from the company’s website, according to the Press Enterprise, but he’s continued to advocate for CBD on social media as a coronavirus treatment. Following the president’s much-derided comments last month about disinfectant, Turley tweeted “CBD IS WAY BETTER THAN SHOOTING UP WITH LYSOL!”

Stephen Silver, a technology writer for The National Interest, is a journalist, essayist and film critic, who is also a contributor to Philly Voice, Philadelphia Weekly, the Jewish Telegraphic Agency, Living Life Fearless, Backstage magazine, Broad Street Review and Splice Today. The co-founder of the Philadelphia Film Critics Circle, Stephen lives in suburban Philadelphia with his wife and two sons. Follow him on Twitter at @StephenSilver.

National Interest

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