- So far, there is no proof that the novel coronavirus can be treated or cured with cannabis or cannabis derivatives.
- The FTC is asking the public to report any scams that they come across.
By now, the research touted by Canadian scientists regarding cannabis as the solution to the pandemic has made its rounds. The COVID-19 and false cannabis cure information have circulated on social media, through numerous websites, and by word of mouth, and it seems that scammers looking to make a quick dollar were listening, with the FTC reporting 49,000 associated reports of claims that are false and the cost to consumers at over 35 million dollars and still rising. Per Fox News, “never waste a good crisis.”
Even as the world is still trying to find a way to crawl out of the mess of the pandemic, there are some lowlifes that can’t help but take advantage of the fears of the public. While there are authorities working to shut down the spread of this information, there are other scammers who are working while they can.
The information itself isn’t altogether wrong – there is a research team that has found particulars strains of cannabis that reduce the production of a protein that is linked to the novel coronavirus. However, this information has not been peer-reviewed and there are many missing details that make it impossible to replicate these sources so far.
Scams related to this information have been reported to the Federal Trade Commission by the thousands, leading to $35.57 million lost as a result of fraud. A spokesperson for the New York Attorney General office stated, “Over 20 websites have been fully removed for scamming and profiting off of coronavirus illegally.” There are a few companies that are claiming to have the cure, though most of the websites are centered around the use of home tests.
One such company that has already been shut down is Finest Herbalist, thanks to a cease-and-desist order by New York Attorney General James. Speaking with the New York Post, Finest Herbalist took the chance to address the public on these accusations, stating,
“We do not approve of or condone the marketing methods brought to our attention by the cease and desist notification.”
They placed the blame on a third party for the marketing, adding that they’ve already spoken with vendors to “take necessary action to ensure advertisements for our product do not include any claim that our products prevent, cure, or treat the 2019 novel coronavirus … or any other disease.” In a press release on these matters, Attorney General James commented,
“Deceptive marketing is never acceptable, especially during a time of crisis; this is a matter of public health and safety. My office will continue to root out companies that attempt to illegally profit from this pandemic.”
At this point, there are four uses that the FDA has approved involving cannabis – Epidiolex, Marinol, Syndros, and Cesamet. While the first item in that list is based on cannabis directly, the other three remedies are related to cannabis in some other way. More importantly, none of the aforementioned drugs have anything to do with COVID-19.
Researchers that have been investigating the connection between CBD and viral infections have spoken out as well, stating that no seller of CBD should be advertising their claims without backing by science. “Misleading claims represent both a threat to public health and a violation of consumer access to accurate information,” they stated.
Anyone who believes that they’ve been a victim of one of these scams should contact the FTC Complaint Assistant at: ftccomplaintassistant.gov for help. Their reports could make a big difference in catching the scammers.