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CBD News Roundup: Canadian Study Finds CBD May Block ‘Gateway’ for COVID-19 Infection

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Written by The CBD Insider

Here’s the latest CBD news:

  • A Canadian study has found that CBD may block the protein “gateway” that the COVID-19 virus uses to infect human cells.
  • The USDA has listed hemp as an ineligible commodity for its Coronavirus Food Assistance Program.
  • Two CBD companies have voluntarily recalled some of their products.
  • One of the largest Canadian cannabis companies has acquired a company to enter the US hemp-derived CBD market.

CBD News Stories

  1. Canadian Study Finds CBD May Help Block ‘Gateway’ for COVID-19
  2. USDA Lists Hemp as Ineligible Commodity for Coronavirus Food Assistance Program
  3. Two CBD Companies Voluntarily Recall Products
  4. Aurora Cannabis Enters US CBD Market with Acquisition

Canadian Study Finds CBD May Help Block ‘Gateway’ for COVID-19

A study by Pathway Rx, in partnership with researchers at the University of Lethbridge, has found evidence that suggests CBD can help block a pathway for COVID-19 infection.

According to the researchers, COVID-19 is known to infect human cells via ACE2, an enzyme that is present in “gateway” tissues.

These gateway tissues include oral, airway, and intestinal tissues.

“Angiotensin-converting enzyme 2 (ACE2) has been generally accepted by the scientific community as a receptor required for the entry of SARS-CoV-2 into human cells,” said Dr. Igor Kovalchuk, CEO of Pathway Rx, in a statement.

The researchers used 3D human models of oral, airway, and intestinal tissues to test how high-CBD cannabis extracts would affect ACE2 levels, as well as other compounds.

“We identified 13 high CBD C. sativa extracts that modulate ACE2 gene expression and ACE2 protein levels,” wrote the researchers.

They also found that some of the extracts down-regulated (reduced or suppressed) the protein TMPRSS2, which is required for the COVID-19 virus to infect human cells.

“Our initial findings warrant further investigation but it’s possible that medical cannabis products could become a safe adjunct therapy for the treatment of COVID-19,” said Dr. Kovalchuk.

The researchers proposed that any potential treatments could be turned into “easy-to-use preventative treatments in the form of mouthwash and throat gargle products for both clinical and at-home use.”

“Given the current dire and rapidly evolving epidemiological situation, every possible therapeutic opportunity and avenue must be considered,” wrote the researchers.

USDA Lists Hemp as Ineligible Commodity for Coronavirus Food Assistance Program

The US Department of Agriculture (USDA) announced in a report on Tuesday that hemp is not an eligible crop for its coronavirus food assistance program.

According to the report, hemp is ineligible because it is one of several commodities that has not suffered a five percent or more drop in price between January and April.

Other ineligible crops include “sheep more than two years old, eggs/layers, soft red winter wheat, hard red winter wheat, white wheat, rice, flax, rye, peanuts, feed barley, Extra Long Staple (ELS) cotton, alfalfa, forage crops, […] and tobacco.” 

The USDA report includes one important caveat, however. 

If a farmer can provide “credible evidence” that” supports a five percent price decline,” USDA officials may “reconsider the excluded commodities.”

Initially, the USDA said it would not reconsider hemp and tobacco; however, within hours, the agency updated its report to include hemp and tobacco among the ineligible products it would reconsider.

The US Hemp Roundtable called the exclusion “very disappointing” on Twitter.

General counsel for the US Hemp Roundtable, Jonathan Miller, pointed out to Marijuana Moment that proving a 5% decline in hemp prices would be challenging because “we [the hemp industry] don’t have some mature, sophisticated pricing data like for corn or soybeans.”

The USDA has been heavily involved in the hemp industry.

Recently, the agency released guidance on servicing loans for hemp producers, has approved state hemp plans, and is working on hemp regulations.

Two CBD Companies Voluntarily Recall Products

The CBD companies Summitt Labs and Biota Biosciences are voluntarily recalling batches of their products.

Summitt Labs recalled “Batch#730 Lot#K018 of KORE ORGANIC Watermelon CBD Oil Tincture” due to high lead content.

The Florida Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services randomly tested a sample of the product and found the lead content to be 4.7ppm, well above the legal limit.

According to the recall notice, Summitt Labs immediately recalled this batch of products and decided to test a sample of the batch with an ISO-accredited laboratory.

Their internal investigation found the lead levels to be 0.5ppm, which is within the legal limit set by the state of Florida.

High lead exposure can lead to several symptoms, such as pain, nausea, vomiting, and in more severe cases, kidney damage.

Summitt Labs says they have not received a “call, complaint or report of any adverse effect” concerning the product.

On the other hand, Biota Biosciences recalled their Sterile Vial products “Cannabidiol (CBD) Complex,” “Cannabidiol+Curcumin,” and “Curcumin Complex” due to an FDA warning letter.

The FDA warned Biota about the medical claims they made about their injectable products, such as:

“Fighting the opioid epidemic . . . BIOTA Biosciences produces and distributes effective all-natural alternatives with no side-effects. Join the growing ranks of pain, oncology, psychiatry, naturopathy healthcare professionals utilizing BIOTA Sterile CBD Vials.”

“Instant relief for patients that are symptomatic of inflammatory auto-immune diseases.”

Biota also did not have adequate directions for use.

The FDA found Biota’s injectable drugs particularly troublesome because they “bypass many of the body’s natural defenses against toxic ingredients, toxins, or dangerous organisms that can lead to serious and life-threatening conditions such as septicemia or sepsis.”

In a public letter, Biota apologized to its customers.

“As a valued customer with confirmed receipt of one of these products, we would like to convey that the executive and management team at Biota Biosciences take full responsibility for these observations and understand the gravity of the risk to consumers by posting these unapproved claims and intended use on our website. We extend our sincerest apologies for having exposed you to such risk.”

Biota also noted that they had removed any mention of the products from their site, stopped selling them, and sent a corrective action plan to the FDA.

Customers were allowed to keep the products or receive a full refund for returning unused products.

Aurora Cannabis Enters US CBD Market with Acquisition

Aurora Cannabis, one of the largest Canadian cannabis companies, is pivoting into the US CBD market. 

Aurora announced in a press release that it would be acquiring Massachusetts-based Reliva, a leading US provider of hemp-derived CBD, in an all-stock deal worth approximately US$40 million. 

The transaction is expected to close in June 2020. 

“Together, Aurora and Reliva will partner to create an international cannabinoid leader that we believe can deliver robust revenue and profitable growth,” said Michael Singer, Executive Chairman and Interim CEO of Aurora, in a statement.

The Canadian company has experienced heavy losses and struggled to become profitable in the past. 

However, Aurora believes their acquisition of Reliva—who carries no debt and has solid profit margins—could quickly change that. 

“We firmly believe that the combination with Reliva will create significant long-term value as Reliva provides us options to grow in hemp-derived CBD internationally,” said Singer. 

Reliva’s CEO, Miguel Martin, has 25 years of experience in the CPG industry to the table; he’s been a president and vice president at several large e-cigarette companies.

Aurora’s stock price jumped 33% during after-hours trading in response to this announcement.

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