Can Cannabis Prevent and/or Treat COVID-19?

A mural of the character Spock from Star Trek has a surgical mask someone has attached which is fluttering in the breeze.

A recent study has many asking if cannabis may be useable in the prevention, treatment, or as a cure for COVID-19.

Before anyone gets too excited, let’s explore if cannabis is truly a Super Silver Haze bullet against the pandemic.

The buzz about this leads back to a study performed by legitimate, educated and degreed Canadian researchers.

This means discounting any and all theories about cannabis and COVID-19 that may come from Facebook, Instagram, YouTube, or your buddy who gets super baked before sharing super half baked theories about science, technology and extraterrestrials.

The researchers produced a non peer-reviewed paper entitled “In Search of Preventative Strategies: Novel Anti-Inflammatory High-CBD Cannabis Sativa Extracts Modulate ACE2 Expression in COVID-19 Gateway Tissues”.

For those of you who don’t hold a medical degree, thus bitterly disappointing your parents yet again, here’s a translation.

Extracts made from 13 strains of high CBD cannabis, developed by the researchers, have shown anti-inflammatory properties. Those extracts make it more difficult for the virus to attach to the tissue cells the virus uses to enter our system.

The researchers posit that extracts from these proprietary strains could be used as a preventative measure. From their abstract:

“The extracts of our most successful and novel high CBD C. sativa lines, pending further investigation, may become a useful and safe addition to the treatment of COVID-19 as an adjunct therapy. They can be used to develop easy-to-use preventative treatments in the form of mouthwash and throat gargle products for both clinical and at-home use. Such products ought to be tested for their potential to decrease viral entry via the oral mucosa.”

(You can download the paper here.)

This is good news. However, it’s not an endorsement to start pulling tough on mad amounts of high CBD strains in the hope of replicating the researcher’s results.

They write that “we have developed over 800 new Cannabis sativa lines and extracts”, meaning that you won’t find anything they used, anywhere, and extracts were the products used, and not the flower.

Canada isn’t alone in looking at Cannabis and COVID-19. Researchers in Tel Aviv are starting three studies regarding cannabis and COVID-19.

Per Annie Lennon with

“(Researchers) are creating a treatment for COVID-19 from cannabidiol (CBD) loaded exosomes, small structures attached to cells responsible for cell-to-cell communication and the delivery of macromolecules between cells. It is hoped that the anti-inflammatory effects of CBD may be able to aid in the recovery of infected lungs. 

Throughout, the CBD-loaded exosomes will be delivered to patients via an inhalation technique.”

“Another study will combine CBD with steroids as a treatment for those with COVID-19…researchers aim to trial the treatment on…patients with COVID-19 currently receiving steroid medication.

 Researchers said “steroid treatment is usually the first or second line of treatment of hospitalized patients. CBD enhances the therapeutic effect of steroid treatment and treats the bio-mechanism affected by the virus.”

The third study understand whether cannabis’s anti-inflammatory properties may be used to slow down lung infections in those diagnosed with COVID-19.

Trials of CBD-based treatments are being conducted in collaboration with several wards in the hospital. The researchers expect dozens of patients with moderate illness from COVID-19 to participate.

Sadly, the War On Drugs has helped erect and maintain absurd and damaging barriers and rules around cannabis research in the U.S., leaving the scientific community with a limited understanding, at best, of what cannabis may or may not be capable of doing.

This leaves self accredited, amateur armchair Infectious Disease Analysts with free rein to share their theories about how cannabis could be used to prevent and treat COVID-19. Although well intentioned, it doesn’t serve the goals of legitimizing cannabis as a potential tool.

One such example is former NFL player Kyle Turley, who claimed loudly about how CBD could be used to prevent and cure COVID-19. That wouldn’t be a problem, except Kyle owns a company, NeuroXPF which makes – wait for it – CBD products.

That didn’t sit well with many, including the Food and Drug Administration.

Marijuana Moment reports that the FDA sent a cease and desist letter to Kyle, which said in fancy government legal speak that the company needed cut it out with this shit, and remove their baseless claims.

Those claims included tweets stating “CBD CAN PREVENT AND CURE THE CORONA VIRUS!” (because nothing screams solid scientific certainty than an exclamation point.)

Per Marijuana Moment:

In a series of tweets in recent weeks, Turley has repeatedly hawked CBD products, arguing that because the compound interacts with the endocannabinoid system, which plays some role in regulating the immune system, they can be used to prevent and cure coronavirus.

He says he’s basing that take on anecdotal evidence, as well as conversations he said he’s had with experts in the field.

Yet unlike most people who “got a letter from the government the other day/ opened and read it/it said they were suckers“, Kyle felt great about it.

He initially told Marijuana Moment that he was thrilled the FDA had made this move, and that he has “lots of reasons to believe what I believe, and I will continue to proclaim god’s truth in this whole thing, because he saved my life through this plant. Period.”

Yet that Joan Of Arc like certainly in God’s truth wavered shortly thereafter, as Kyle both agreeing to all the FDA’s requests, and tweeting “OK OK, YOURE ALL RIGHT, ILL ADMIT IT! CHEAP CBD BRAND PRODUCTS WILL NOT PREVENT OR CURE COVID19!

“Cheap CBD products”, perhaps not, but Turley is selling a 750 mg bottle of all CBD, zero THC gummies for $124.95, CBD lip balm for $9.95, and a one ounce bottle of 1000 mg CBD vape liquid for $119.95.

Viewpoints from someone other than a Gummy Pimp comes via two doctors: Noted Cannabis Researcher and Take No Bullshit Queen Dr. Sue Sisley, and Dr. Peter Grinspoon, a physician and teacher at Harvard Medical School.

In a recent Leafly piece, they spoke about using cannabis in the treatment of COVID-19.

“We know that cannabis has profound anti-inflammatory action, but we don’t fully understand how to harness that, especially when it comes to treating this specific illness.” said Dr. Sisley

Still, she thinks it’s worth researching these anti-inflammatory effects further—looking at both cannabis flower and cannabis root—which has also been used for reducing inflammatory effects.”

Dr. Grinspoon, son of legendary Harvard Professor and Cannabis researcher Lester Grinspoon who has a strain named in his honor, also believes a cautious approach is in order.

“Cannabis isn’t an antiviral medication,” he says “We don’t use it to treat viruses, we use it to treat symptoms. … It just doesn’t really function that way. People have to hold their horses and not extrapolate and not make claims that are unsubstantiated.

People who are anti-cannabis really want to think that cannabis harms you when you have coronavirus, and people who are pro-cannabis really want to think that cannabis helps you when you have coronavirus. But the fact is, it’s a new virus and there isn’t any data either way for cannabis.”

Josh Taylor is a well-known and successful entrepreneur in the legal cannabis space, producing B2B and B2C cannabis events, "Backstage Budtending" and upscale concierge services through his companies and His weekly syndicated newspaper column and features about cannabis ran for five years until March 2020.

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