In the latest series of “Headlines We Can’t Believe We’re Actually Writing”, certain news portals shared headlines claiming that cannabis could help prevent people from contracting Covid-19. Now, we hate to be the wind that snuffs out your joint, but reading into the science behind the claim, it appears that many have completely misunderstood the test that took place.
Here’s what’s really going on.
It was a lab test & nothing else
Basically, two compounds found in hemp plants, specifically, acids that become active cannabinoids only after heat is applied, “prevented entry” of the novel coronavirus that causes Covid-19 into isolated human cells. What this suggests is that cannabis-derived solutions might be able to help people fight off Covid-19. Which translates into “Smoking marijuana won’t protect you from coronavirus”.
The study began because the researchers wanted to find out which naturally occurring compounds could help in the fight against the virus. What they found were three compounds in hemp had a “high ability to bind to the spike protein” in the virus which helps it infiltrate human cells. These compounds are cannabidiolic acid (CBD-A), cannabigerolic acid (CBG-A), and tetrahydrocannabinolic acid (THC-A). Still with us?
Good. These acids are the natural precursors to what gets people high when they smoke. The keyword here is “precursors”; those that come before. So, in simple terms, these chemicals that prevent the virus are not found in the weed you’d get from your local…exotic pharmacist, shall we say. What happens is that when CBD-A, CBG-A and THC-A are heated up in the form of a joint or brownie, they lose their acidic composition, and become CBD, CBG and THC. That means that they are no longer capable of carrying out the task of blocking the virus.
Dr. Peter Grinspoon of Massachusetts General Hospital and instructor at Harvard Medical School also said that “smoking anything isn’t a good idea during a pandemic that affects the lungs. These compounds would need to be tested in animals, then in humans, and actually demonstrated to be effective against Covid. This is a long way off, assuming they work, which is by no means guaranteed,” he said. “I don’t think many molecules at that level actually pan out into functional medicines.”
To conclude, this test was done under very controlled circumstances and was tested on human cells and not on a human being. So, while it would certainly be an incredible twist if cannabis was proven to stop Covid, the truth is that it isn’t and in fact is not recommended at all.
Know of someone who thought that smoking weed would prevent COVID-19? Share this article with them and help a friend out.