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After OSU study claims acids in hemp can prevent COVID-19, health experts say more research is needed

A study from the Oregon State University suggested oils found in living hemp may help immune systems fight the coronavirus.

KNOXVILLE, Tenn. — Research from scientists at Oregon State University suggested that two chemicals found in hemp may prevent infection. They clearly distinguished hemp from marijuana, which has different chemical properties. Hemp also has fewer psychoactive properties.

The study may also appear interesting to anyone eager to try a new round of treatment. However, health officials said there are some important details to this study that illustrate that it is nowhere near conclusive, and does not indicate marijuana use can be used against COVID-19.

Those details are listed below:

  1. This specific study doesn't indicate cannabis in the form of edibles, oil, or any other consumer product fights the coronavirus
  2. This study does not indicate smoking cannabis fights the coronavirus
  3. This study has not been tested on humans 

Dr. Bill Smith with AMR Knoxville specializes in COVID-19 research and trials. As this new finding sweeps headlines across the nation, he said it's important to read the study.

"Let me start out by saying this was a laboratory test," Smith said.

That means it has not been tested on humans in clinical trials. It could be tested on humans in the future, but as of right now, its effectiveness is unclear.

"Edibles or smoking pot to prevent COVID is not going going to get you those acids," he said. 

While its applicability may be in question, Dr. Smoth said that the lab analysis led researchers to some interesting findings. They said they were able to prevent the spikes of the coronavirus from being attached to human cells.

If the research ends up working in human trials, scientists said some of the chemicals found in hemp could be used in COVID-19 vaccines and treatments. The active ingredient, Smith said, comes from acids found in cannabis. 

"They are acids that can be extracted from the leaves that are still growing," Smith said.

The acids used in the study are lost when most cannabis products are processed for consumers. So, using CBD or hemp products is not the same as using approved treatments and medicines for COVID-19, even if they involve similar chemicals.

Hemp House, a local cannabis shop, has a wide variety of cannabis items and employees who are well educated on their different types. 

"Hemp is a classification of cannabis and hemp is cannabis containing less than 0.3 percent Delta 9 THC," said Andy Chesney, the owner of Hemp House.

While cannabis is used for several medical reasons and is proven to have a wide range of benefits, the type of cannabis plant used in the study is hemp. Before the plant is turned into cloth, paper, or a drug, researchers said they extracted two acids that may fight the coronavirus — CBDA and CBGA. 

Researchers at AMR Knoxville said they reached out to the company making this product for more information. If it's valid, they plan to conduct clinical trials in East Tennessee. 

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