New study shows possibility of cannabis protecting against COVID-19

BENTON HARBOR, Mich. -- While the cannabis products at a dispensary might not protect you from COVID-19, some experts say  that a new study might open the door for further medical research.

“I think that we’re even looking at the legitimacy of cannabis to help with immune issues is a big step and I think that we need to continue encouraging that kind of research,” said Barbara Starke, a registered cannabis nurse. 

Oregon State University released a study earlier this week, which showed the possibility of cannabis compounds protecting the body from a COVID-19 infection, though not in the form found at a dispensary. 

“They used derivatives of cannabis—CBG and CBD-A, so those are non-intoxicating components of cannabis," said Starke. "If you take those, you’re not going to get any kind of intoxicating effects. You’re not going to be high.”

The derivatives, or acids, are found in the plant form of hemp-- but only in that form-- meaning they pretty much disappear once the plant is cut and dried. 

CBD-A and CBG-A disrupt the COVID-19 virus from attaching to the body's cell proteins, preventing the virus from multiplying and infecting the host. 

While hemp is not ingested recreationally, some wish there was more medical research done with cannabis. 

“It begs to be researched," Starke said. "Because it’s such a powerful ally in helping people be more well.”

Starke has long focused on holistic medicines, like cannabis. But research on cannabis has faced difficulties for decades because it is a schedule-1 drug. 

But with hemp being legal, more research can be conducted. 

According to cannabis activists, though, not enough researchers know about it. 

“When it was under a Schedule 1, like cannabis, nobody wanted to touch it," said Heidi Knierim, the founder of My Compassion, a non-profit organization that focuses on cannabis research and education. "That stigma or the lack of knowledge and education doesn’t keep up with what’s happening with the laws.”

Knierim says that this study may bring more awareness to researching hemp and its benefits. 

“It will be easier, I believe, to do research for all kinds of conditions, not just COVID," she said. "It really just takes a group of companies that are licensed, the growers, the provisioning, and the organizations with the patience, and the public, to come together to get it done.”

Despite the promising results of the study, Starke urged, if people still want to protect themselves from COVID-19, to get vaccinated.

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