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Smoking weed won’t protect you from COVID-19

The internet is abuzz with a new study showing how two cannabis compounds may have protective effects against COVID-19. But weed-smokers shouldn’t celebrate just yet.  Researchers from Oregon State University isolated and identified two naturally occurring compounds found in hemp, cannabigerolic acid (CBGA) and cannabidiolic acid (CBDA). Using chemical screening techniques, the scientists found that…

The internet is abuzz with a new study showing how two cannabis compounds may have protective effects against COVID-19. However, weed-smokers should not celebrate yet.

Researchers at Oregon State University identified and isolated two naturally occurring compounds in hemp: cannabigerolic (CBGA), and cannabidiolic (CBDA). The scientists discovered that the two compounds could bind to the SARS-CoV-2 spike proteins using chemical screening techniques. This is the same principle that makes monoclonal antibodies effective. CBGA, CBDA were able to bind to the Alpha-Beta variants of the virus. However, the researchers haven’t looked at any other variants. The now-viral peer-reviewed study was published in the Journal of Natural Products on Monday.

The paper has been a huge hit and even made it onto late-night television programs. “All this time we’ve been listening to the CDC, we should’ve been eating CBD,” joked Jimmy Kimmel. Stephen Colbert stated that this was “great news” for teenagers whose parents found marijuana in their rooms. They now claim, “Those aren’t mine.” I’m just holding them for my friend, Tony Fauci.’ ” The study has also inspired several viral tweets, like “Raise your hand if you had “weed to the rescue” on your 2022 pandemic bingo card.”

These jokes and celebrations are misguided–the study shows no evidence that smoking weed or consuming CBD gummies and other popular hemp products can protect or prevent COVID-19. CBGA (cannabis compounds) and CBDA are precursors to compounds found in cannabis products. They are acids in hemp which are converted into CBG or CBD when cannabis plants are dried and heated to make cannabis.

“CBDA and CBGA are produced by the hemp plant as precursors to CBD and CBG, which are familiar to many consumers,” Oregon State University pharmaceutical scientist, Richard van Breemen, said in a statement. “However, they are different from the acids and are not contained in hemp products.” van Breeman also told VICE that “we know that CBD, CBG, and THC are not active against the virus.”

[Related: How much does vitamin D protect us from diseases like COVID?]

CBDA, CGBA also undergo high temperature degrading. This means that smoking is not an option to inhale the chemicals. These compounds would need to be taken orally, most likely as pills, if they were to become medicines.

Experts use social media to dispel the myths about weed-smoking’s protective powers. In response to one viral tweet, endoca

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