Scientists claim to have made a breakthrough in the search for a coronavirus treatment – in the form of cannabis.
Scientists at Lethbridge University say they have found strong strains of marijuana that could help prevent and then treat COVID-19.
They say the strains appear to affect the ACE2 pathways that the virus uses as a gateway to the body.
Speaking with CTV NewsOlga Kovalchuk, one of the researchers, said: "We were totally surprised at first and then we were very happy."
Cannabis can reduce the virus's entry points into the body by up to 70%, according to the researchers.
Igor Kovalchuk told the Calgary Herald : “So you have a better chance of fighting it.
"Our work can have a huge influence – there are not many drugs with the potential to reduce infection by 70 to 80%."
The researchers acknowledge that more research is needed, but say that marijuana can be used to develop preventive treatments "in the form of mouthwash and throat gargle products".
They said: “Although our most effective extracts require more large-scale validation, our study is crucial for future analysis of the effects of medical cannabis on COVID-19.
"Given the current terrible and rapidly evolving epidemiological situation, all possible therapeutic opportunities and avenues must be considered."
However, other experts have warned that smoking marijuana may actually increase your risk of coronavirus.
Speaking to SF Weekly, Dr. Stanton Glantz, of the UCSF Tobacco Control Research and Education Center, said: "Smoking does not cause the flu, vaping does not cause the flu. But people who smoke or are exposed to smoke liabilities are more susceptible to falling ill.
"There is not much direct data in COVID. But there is a lot of evidence that smoking and vaping depress the immune function of the lungs.
"If you look at cannabis smoke and compare it to tobacco smoke, it's not that different. You have THC instead of nicotine, but the immunosuppressive effects don't seem to be mainly because of nicotine."