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Marijuana and Ebola: The Claim and the Controversy

A doctor wearing a purple glove holds out a bud of marijuana, which can be used to vaccinate those suffering from Ebola.

Joint Opinions

Marijuana and Ebola: The Claim and the Controversy

America has been in a wild-eyed state of panic for the past several weeks, as news of the Ebola virus infecting parts of the county has taken center stage. Without a doubt, there has been a wealth of media attention focused on this fatal virus because, much to the horrific gates of everyone’s worst nightmares, there is no known cure for the disease. Increasing reports of casualties have only intensified the nervous energy surrounding the spread of Ebola, with health professionals predicting it could swell into a full-blown pandemic if a vaccine is not discovered in the immediate future.

Yet, while the country waits on bended knee for the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and the World Health Organization to formulate a cure, members of the medical marijuana community have come forward, claiming to have at least some minuscule evidence to suggest that specific cannabinoids may have the power to kill Ebola.

Former New Mexico Governor Gary Johnson, who is now the CEO of the medical marijuana corporation, Cannabis Sativa, initially spawned these claims. In a recent interview with the Fox Business Network, Johnson said that he believed his company has discovered some “efficacy with regard to treating Ebola.” Although the on-air host, Stuart Varney, approached the claim with a certain level of skepticism, Johnson maintained that the federal government should approach marijuana as a potential cure for the deadly disease.

“In the case of the worst patients that are dying, I would think this would be, perhaps, a situation where it’s a no lose situation,” said Johnson. “We are talking about millions of lives here,” giving the analogy of how the FDA once thwarted a treatment for AIDS even though it was shown to be effective.

Of course, it did not take long before legions from the marijuana media jumped on board Johnson’s weed vaccine theory and used his comments to publish sanctimonious stories on the magic of marijuana against Ebola. These tales, incidentally, went on a viral jag, and by now, the majority of the population has seen at least one report claiming cannabis to be the unsung salvation for this disease. But the question remains: Can marijuana effectively treat, or possibly even eliminate the Ebola virus and save the lives of masses?

Unfortunately, until the federal government repeals prohibition, therefore allowing science to do its job and research the true healing potential of the cannabis plant, the answer is purely speculation at best, but there are some educated links available that give hope to the cannabis cure claim.

Dr. David B. Allen, the medical director at Cannabis Sativa Inc., says specific compounds in marijuana could be the solution for combatting the Ebola virus, even though additional research would be necessary before such declarations could be confirmed. His statement, however, is not in any way meant to suggest that smoking copious amounts of weed will shelter a person from the disease, but rather that edible forms of the herb, especially those high in cannabidiol (CBD), which have fast absorption rates, could be used as an effective treatment.

“Ebola is a complex RNA viral organism that causes the cell to engulf it by pinocytosis, and then the virus hijacks the cell to replicate itself,” he continued. “This replication can involve many mutations in the RNA code that make it difficult to impossible to create an effective vaccine. There are U.S. Patents showing evidence that Cannabinoids have significant anti-viral activity.”

In nonprofessional terms, Dr. Allen says marijuana is a probable cure for the Ebola virus because cannabinoids have been proven to “reduce and prevent” toxic shock – the fatal result of Ebola’s plague on the immune system.

“The discovery and application of the endocannabinoid signaling system is proving to be the control of virtually all diseases of mankind,” said Allen. “Cannabinoids are emerging as a new class of drugs that treat infections of bacteria, fungi and virus by different mechanisms of action not found in any other class of drug.”

Interestingly, scientists from the Aaron Diamond AIDS Research Center at New York’s Rockefeller University recently published a study in the journal Nature Medicine that finds HIV and Ebola infiltrate the body through the same devious method, giving the team led by Dr. Paul Bieniasz hope in discovering a potential cure for both viruses. If this research is accurate, there could actually be a significant amount of truth behind the idea of marijuana treating Ebola, because cannabinoids have already be shown to slow the progression of another life-threatening virus we all know as HIV/AIDS.

Earlier this year, researchers from Louisiana State University published a study in the journal AIDS Researcher and Human Retroviruses, which found that cannabis was able to slow down the progression of the disease. In a study involving laboratory animals, lead researcher Patricia Molina said that after giving infected primates a daily dose of THC, there was a significant decrease in damaged immune tissue in the stomach, which is the most common spot for the infection to occur.

Therefore, if cannabinoids have shown the ability to slow down the progression of HIV/AIDS, and the two deadly diseases share distinct similarities, there exists an argument for marijuana in regards to Ebola. Unfortunately, this hypothesis does not have any influence within the medical community, as there is simply no documented scientific evidence to substantiate this contention. Perhaps the most promising insight surrounding this controversy is the fact that a growing number of medical experts are now prescribing their patients medical marijuana to treat a myriad of conditions from cancer to HIV/AIDS, a similar culprit, if you recall, as our new viral enemy, Ebola.

“Because cannabis is so very safe especially under doctor supervision,” said Dr. Allen, “I believe it is crucial for the medical community to start human trials on survivability of Ebola infected patients regardless of the political restraints.”

Do you think cannabis heals? Tell us in the comments below.

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