There’s still a lot we don’t know about COVID-19. What are its longterm effects? What might future variants look like? But one study suggests something pretty unexpected: marijuana might help keep it at bay.
That’s the finding of a a laboratory study published in the Journal of Nature Products. They found that cannabis compounds can keep the novel coronavirus from infecting healthy human cells. As Bloomberg writes:
The two compounds commonly found in hemp — called cannabigerolic acid, or CBGA, and cannabidiolic acid, or CBDA — were identified during a chemical screening effort as having potential to combat coronavirus, researchers from Oregon State University said. In the study, they bound to spike proteins found on the virus and blocked a step the pathogen uses to infect people.
The researchers did not do these tests on actual humans, so it’s not completely clear that weed will ward off a case of COVID-19, but the research does suggest that it might. “These compounds can be taken orally and have a long history of safe use in humans,” said researcher Richard van Breemen with Oregon State’s Global Hemp Innovation Center said in a statement. “They have the potential to prevent as well as treat infection by SARS-CoV-2.”
Obviously, people still have a lot of feelings about the ethics of marijuana use (and states still have a lot of different laws about it too) so there’s lots of reasons to pump the breaks here. Fortunately, the compounds in play in this study aren’t connected to THC, the psychoactive element ingredient in marijuana. In other words, this study’s results are related to hemp and hemp products — not necessarily getting high.
More studies are needed before we take this to the bank, but it’s an interesting look at how little we know about this virus, and what the future of fighting it might look like.