Ask Our Experts: Cannabis vs. Coronavirus


Q: Given both the outbreak of the coronavirus and the subsequent spread of rumors and urban myths, is there any known benefit of cannabis regarding the potential epidemic?

By New Frontier Data

A: The answer is no.

Despite popular demand for answers and remedies against legitimately publicized health risks during the cyclical flu season or the newfound onset of the Wuhan coronavirus, there is no known role for cannabis to play against either.

The U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) last month cracked down on hand-sanitizer giant Purell for making unfounded claims that its products prevent or help stop the spread of viruses. The FDA has likewise recently warned about overbroad claims regarding hemp and cannabidiol (CBD) sold as medicine, dietary supplements, and additives in food, cosmetics and skincare products.

Regarding the coronavirus, the first thing to recognize is the difference between bacteria and viruses: While bacteria are single-celled microorganisms that can thrive in a wide range of environments, viruses are even smaller, and require living hosts (i.e., humans, plants or animals) to multiply and survive.

This flu season in the United States, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) reports that influenza has sickened an estimated 19 million Americans, with 140,000 hospitalized and 10,000 deaths. By comparison, as of the CDC’s most recent update on Feb. 3, there were 11 confirmed cases of coronavirus in the U.S., with at least 293 people placed under investigation.

Unfortunately, despite recent runs on them which threaten to create shortages for healthcare professionals needing them for other purposes, there is scant evidence suggesting that surgical-style masks prevent airborne viruses or bacteria (since masks are too loose, lack any air filter, and leave one’s eyes exposed).

While it is possible that the industrial hemp industry could eventually help provide various biomedical applications worthy of future examination, solutions are not immediately forthcoming; meanwhile even those rushing to produce a vaccine have no guarantee of doing so before the end of the current outbreak (the third since SARS in 2002-2003).

Health officials meanwhile recommend that the most effective means to avoid catching viruses is for people to cover their mouths when coughing or sneezing, regularly wash hands with warm water and soap, avoid touching their eyes or noses, and otherwise maintain fit and healthy lifestyles.