A series of studies have found that cannabis is better at preventing COVID-19 than hydroxychloroquine, the drug regularly touted for that purpose by President Trump.

Admittedly, that isn’t saying very much, but let’s start by looking at potential risks versus benefits. Cannabis is a drug used to treat a myriad of illnesses, which has never caused death, and whose serious side effects are extremely rare. 

Recent research sponsored by the Canadian government indicates that several strains of cannabis could be effective in preventing novel coronavirus infection. The research paper, as reported by The Next Web, writes:

We have developed over 800 new Cannabis sativa lines and extracts and hypothesized that high-CBD C. sativa extracts may be used to modulate ACE2 expression in COVID-19 target tissues. Screening C. sativa extracts using artificial human 3D models of oral, airway, and intestinal tissues, we identified 13 high CBD C. sativa extracts that modulate ACE2 gene expression and ACE2 protein levels. Our initial data suggest that some C. sativa extract down-regulate serine protease TMPRSS2, another critical protein required for SARS-CoV2 entry into host cells.

In other words, the team’s models found that multiple sativa strains could block the virus from infecting tissue cells.

On the other hand, we have hydroxychloroquine, an anti-malaria medication also used to treat lupus and arthritis. The drug has become a regular feature of news stories in recent weeks, largely because President Trump has fixated on it as a possible medication to prevent infection of the novel coronavirus, even claiming that he uses it himself.

Unfortunately, the science so far does not support Trump’s claim. A studyfrom Harvard Medical School professor Mandeep Mehra analyzed data from 96,000 COVID-19 patients, including 15,000 which were given hydroxychloroquine.

Those given the drug had significantly higher rates of death than those who weren’t. Hydroxychloroquine was correlated to a 34% increase in mortality and 137% increase in risk of serious heart arrhythmia.

Even if all there’s still a lot more testing to be done, think I’d rather still do weed for now.

Photo via Flickr/Yuri Samoilov