Hold your excitement: Researchers uncertain on whether cannabis helps treat COVID-19
A study published by the Journal of Natural Products early last week found that two chemical compounds in hemp binded to the coronavirus spike proteins, which allow the virus to enter human cells. In one case, the cannabis molecules were able to reduce the virus’ ability to enter healthy cells. A similar study was conducted at the University of Waterloo’s Department of Kinesiology and Health studies found that CBD increased the innate immunity of cells to detect coronavirus genes and destroy itself before replicating the virus. Both studies, however, were done in a petri dish.
While Mikael Sodegren, head of Imperial College Medical Cannabis research group, believes that the data is worth further investigating, he said that there is not enough evidence currently for conclusions to be drawn. The human body is more complex than a petri dish, according to Sodegren. “If it was like a petri dish, then we would have cured cancer by now.”
While the results of the two studies are inconclusive, they provide reason for more research to be conducted on cannabis’ usefulness in treating COVID-19. According to Myron Cohen, director of the Institute for Global Health & Infectious Disease at the University of North Carolina, notes that researchers have completed the first step.The next steps include testing on animals, and then on infected humans in a clinical trial.
One major obstacle that future research faces is how costly it can be. Medical experts believe that this kind of research likely demands major investments from the pharmaceutical industry. Historically, pharmaceutical companies have opposed the use and legalization of marijuana because it’s not a patented drug they can maximize profits on.
Whether or not marijuana is effective in treating COVID-19 is still in the air. However, medical experts warn about smoking anything during the pandemic, noting that smoking causes our lungs to function worse. Furthermore, Robin Duncan, the lead author of the University of Waterloo study, directly states that THC and CBD do not help in providing immunity.