[Date: 21 January 2022]

A new study conducted from Oregon State University and Oregon Health & Science University has found that the use of cannabis may have the potential to prevent the spread of COVID-19. 

The study has been making waves online since it was published, so we’ve decided to delve into it a little further and share those findings with you.

What were the key findings of the study?

Dr Richard Van Breemen of Oregon State University explains that he had always been interested in discovering natural products which have medicinal value. His team chose to experiment with a natural product known as hemp, which is a botanical class of cannabis grown specifically for industrial or medicinal use. Following the experiment, they were able to establish that hemp has the ability to prevent COVID-19 from infecting human cells. The study found that it does this by effectively blocking the entry of SARS-COV-2 (the acronym given to the COVID-19 virus) by enmeshing itself to the spike protein of the virus. The results proved effective on both the tested Alpha and Beta variants of the virus.

In practicality, Dr Van Breemen takes the view that hemp could therefore be taken in the form of a pill or gummy after being in close contact with someone who has COVID-19 in order to prevent the virus from spreading.

How has the public responded to the study?

The study has been causing a lot of discussion online since it was published, and one of the discussions which has taken place is whether or not smoking marijuana will prevent an individual from being infected by COVID-19 in the same way the study suggests ingesting a pill or gummy would. Dr Van Breemen states that although no extensive experiments involving smoking marijuana have been conducted, he believes that the preventative effect of the cannabis would largely diminish if it were to be smoked, as the heat required to smoke cannabis would cause certain chemicals within the cannabis to decompose, thus reducing the efficacy observed in the study.

What challenges were faced while conducting the study?

Dr Van Breemen explains that the study was initially proposed to the National Institutes of Health (NIH) in 2020, however the NIH refused to fund the study due to the lack of any initial proof. Dr Van Breemen states that they then decided to conduct the study without the funding of the NIH. However, legal challenges were also faced due to the inconsistencies between state and federal cannabis laws within the US.

Where to from here?

Although there is limited evidence to date about whether hemp can provide effective protection against COVID-19, this study shows promising results.

The team at Zed Legal welcome further research and study in this area because it is clear that there are medical benefits from the controlled use of cannabis, and this study could be one successful means in assisting to provide people with protection against contracting the COVID-19 virus.

The law around medicinal cannabis, manufacturing, licensing and permits is complex. If you require assistance with any such issue, contact Zed Legal today at hello@zed.legal

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