Cannabis Extract May Prevent COVID-19 Infection, Should Be Paired With Vaccinations: Study

A new study has found that using cannabis extract in conjunction with proper vaccination may help prevent infections from COVID-19.

The study, published in the Journal of Natural Products on Monday, found that cannabis compounds can be used as a "therapeutic agent" in an effort to block the COVID-19 virus from entering the body.

Researchers performed the study in conjunction with Oregon State University and Oregon Health and Sciences University, and they concluded that "cannabigerolic acid and cannabidiolic acid prevented infection of human epithelial cells...and prevented entry of live SARS-CoV-2 into cells." These acids were able to bind to specified proteins on the COVID pathogen and stop the virus from advancing.

Cannabigerolic acids (CBGAs) and cannabidiolic acids (CBDAs) are both common ingredients found in the hemp plant, used in the manufacture of cannabis products.

"These compounds can be taken orally and have a long history of safe use in humans," said Richard Van Breemen, a professor at Oregon State. "They have the potential to prevent as well as treat infection by SARS-CoV-2."

"They are not controlled substances like THC, the psychoactive ingredient in marijuana, and have a good safety profile in humans," he added.

Hemp Farmer
A study published Monday found that acidic extracts from hemp plants could be used in conjunction with vaccination to help prevent COVID-19 from entering the body. Seen here is a stock image of a hemp farmer. iStock/Getty

The acids were tested against both the Alpha and Beta variants of the COVID virus and were found to be equally effective against both.

"Our data [shows] minimal impact of the variant lineages on the effectiveness of CBDA and CBGA, a trend that will hopefully extend to other existing and future variants," the study stated.

However, the study added that cannabis extract alone is not enough to prevent an unvaccinated person from contracting COVID and that any treatment should be combined with proper doses of the COVID vaccine. Also noted was the possibility that "resistant variants could still arise" in the aftermath of widespread use of cannabis, but that "the combination of vaccination...should create a more challenging environment with which SARS-CoV-2 must contend."

These acids were also considered "virus-neutralizing" against high concentrations of COVID spores that were found in a clinical setting. The effectiveness of the acids against smaller amounts of the COVID virus remains unclear.

Additional information on the study was published by VICE, which found that ingesting cannabis in the normal way, such as through smoking or consuming edibles, will not expose someone to the COVID-fighting acids. Rather, as these acids are only found when the plant is growing, they must be extracted from the hemp leaf itself, a process most conventional users are unfamiliar with.

However, given that these acids are safe to administer orally, it is possible that the production of a hemp-based pill or liquid could be seen in the future as the effort to eradicate COVID-19 continues.

The National Cannabis Industry Association, a nationwide cannabis advocacy group, told Newsweek that "this study is certainly promising and represents yet another potential medical application for cannabis and specific cannabinoids with a long history of human use. However, there is not enough evidence presented here to warrant using CBDA or CBGA exclusively as COVID prevention measures."

"More research is clearly needed, which is just one of the myriad reasons to end federal prohibition and remove the barriers to research created by our current laws and policies. Absent these restrictions, which have been needlessly and criminally limiting our scientific knowledge of cannabinoid medicine for decades, we would probably know a lot more about the interaction between cannabis and COVID [and other diseases] than we currently do, and might have been able to save a lot of lives."

Updated 01/13/2022, 4:26 p.m. ET: This story has been updated with a statement from the National Cannabis Industry Association.