Colorado’s CBD giant Charlotte’s Web, named for pediatric cannabis patient Charlotte Figi, who died last month of complications from the coronavirus, was up 24 percent on the Toronto Stock Exchange. But the big gain was on NASDAQ, where shares in Canadian firm Sundial spiked 50 percent—a jump, to $0.83 a share, that’s nothing close to wiping out last year’s losses, but nonetheless a very big rally in context.
And a rally “vaguely” timed, as MarketWatch reporter Max Cherney observed, with the New York Post’s publication Thursday of its take on the big story that had gone viral on Facebook earlier that month, and was later flagged as fake news: the claim, first made in a preclinical paper published in April, by Canadian scientists that certain high CBD strains of “cannabis could prevent and treat coronavirus.”
Cannabis and COVID together strikes a nerve, already: since the beginning of the pandemic, unscrupulous cannabis companies have been claiming, without any data, that their products might manage COVID symptoms or even act as a preventative. But this wasn’t that, as researchers at the University of Lethbridge explained in interviews with the Calgary Herald and CTV, recycled by the Post.
In experiments with 3D human cell cultures mimicking various diseases, certain high CBD cannabis strains—developed by the researchers labs, in no relation to the cannabis available in legal and recreational markets in Canada or the US—demonstrated abilities to shut down coronavirus’s favorite “pathway: a receptor called ACE2.
Rife in lung cells but also present in the mouth and gut, ACE2 regulates the virus’s ability to enter cells and replicate. One of the Lethbridge CBD strains downregulated the ACE2 receptor in certain 3D cells by as much as 73 percent, according to Lethbridge biological scientist and study lead author Igor Kovalchuk.