New studies show that cannabis has protective properties for COVID19. But smoking marijuana is not an ideal moment. Researchers from Oregon State University have discovered and isolated two compounds found in hemp, cannabigerolilic acid (CCBGA) and cannabiidiolic acid (CBDA).
Using chemical screening techniques, the scientists found that these two compounds have a molecular form that can bind to SARS-CoV-2 spike proteins, therefore blocking the virus from binding to cells—it’s the same basic principle that makes monoclonal antibody treatments effective. CBGA and CBDA could bind to the Alpha and Beta variants of the virus, but the researchers have not looked at other variants. The now-viral peer-reviewed study was published in the Journal of Natural Products on Monday.
The paper has received a flood of attention, even making rounds on late night television shows. “All this time we’ve been listening to the CDC, we should’ve been eating CBD,” joked Jimmy Kimmel. Stephen Colbert said this is “great news for all the teenagers whose parents find weed in their room,” who now say things like, “ ‘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 and CBDA, the cannabis compounds mentioned in the research, are precursors to the compounds actually found in cannabis products: They are acids in hemp that are turned into CBG and CBD, respectively, when cannabis plants are heated and dried to make marijuana.
“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 that “we know that CBD, CBG, and THC are not active against the virus.”