As the COVID-19 epidemic continues into its fourth month across the globe, there’s been no shortage of scammers and hucksters making underhanded attempts to try and shortchange a scared and overwhelmed populace. Whether it’s people hoarding toilet paper and hand sanitizer hoping to make an extra buck, or folks marking up personal protective equipment and keeping it from the front line providers who need it most, the worst aspects of capitalism have been alive and well during the coronavirus pandemic.
Unfortunately, some in the cannabis industry have also succumbed to the worse angels of their nature, pressured, in part, by the strain placed on the economy by the virus. Since the beginning of April, the Food and Drug Administration has sent no less than five warning letters to CBD and hemp companies who have claimed that their products could cure or fight off the symptoms of COVID-19 — a fact that is demonstrably false. According to the FDA’s website, the government agency has sent letters to NeuroXPF, CanaBD, CBD Online Store, Indigo Naturals, and Native Roots Hemp.
As per each of the warning letters sent, these companies have run afoul of the Food, Drug, and Cosmetics Act, claiming their product is a drug when it is not. As per federal law, for a product to be deemed a drug, it must undergo a rigorous testing and approval process as outlined by the FDA.
These companies are accused of marketing their products as immune-boosting, anti-inflammatory products that can help either cure or prevent the novel coronavirus.
“Crush Corona!” exclaimed NeuroXPF on their website. “Your best defense against the COVID-19 blitz starts with a strong immune system. It’s what protects your body from the everyday attacks of bacteria, viruses, parasites, and a host of other nasties.”
CBD Online Store, according to their warning letter from the FDA, was more straightforward in their approach, asking, “Can CBD Help With The Corona Virus?”
“Corona Virus / Covid-19,” they continued on their site. “Unless you are living in a cave, you know what Corona Virus is . . . Some medical researchers are finding the disease effects the lungs . . . Inflammation is the problem here . . . We have been saying on our blog since the beginning about the powerful anti-inflammatory effects of CBD . . . CBD has been found to decrease inflammations naturally, and through communicating with your endocannabinoid system.”
While some research has begun to test the effects of cannabis and CBD on the coronavirus, it is in the very early stages and has shown no results thus far. Researchers in Israel, for example, have launched clinical trials to see if CBD’s anti-inflammatory properties could help fight the virus. However, to date, medical professionals have been adamant that cannabis and CBD cannot help to cure or prevent COVID-19.
“There's no good science to say that cannabis is going to cure this virus,” said Dr. Michael Verbora in an interview with The PotNetwork just last week. There, in fact, may be some concern about smoked cannabis irritating the virus. However, those risks can be mitigated, according to Verbora.
But the fact that cannabis and CBD can’t help with COVID-19 hasn’t stopped people from trying to make a quick buck off of it anyway. Earlier this month, when former NeuroXPF’s Kyle Turley, a former NFL player, was told to back down from his claims about CBD and COVID, he instead chose to quit the company so he could continue to press on. As recently as last week, he was seen tweeting, “CBD IS WAY BETTER THAN SHOOTING UP WITH LYSOL,” a reference to Donald Trump’s suggestion that disinfectant might prevent people from catching the virus.
In the meantime, there have been articles abound questioning whether or not there may be a connection between cannabis and the coronavirus as well, some skirting the line between honestly stating the truth and insinuating something a bit more.
Each of the five companies listed above was given 15 days to respond to the FDA and inform the government agency of their plans for rectifying the situation.
Images: CBD Oil, Kyle Turley