On the heels of several recent studies showing cannabis compounds have the potential to prevent or fight COVID-19 infection, Flora Growth Corp. is pursuing approval to begin research on a patent-pending cannabinoid-based treatment in Colombia. 

The company announced in a press release that it is seeking approval from INVIMA, the Colombian version of the FDA, to research “all the potential mechanisms of cannabinoids in preventing infection from the SARS-CoV-2 (COVID-19) virus.” The company added that Colombia recently passed legislation requiring insurance companies to cover cannabis prescriptions.

“We are honored to receive the advice and guidelines from INVIMA as we begin this exciting research process. The Flora Pharma division seeks to obtain evidence to support this product’s use against SARS-CoV-2 and bring to market an effective, cannabinoid-based product,” said Flora Growth President and CEO Luis Merchan.

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Flora Growth plans to conduct studies through its research division, Flora Pharma, and formulate the product in its GMP-certified Colombian lab. Flora Growth also has a 250-acre all-outdoor grow operation in Bucaramanga, Colombia, to supply cannabis derivatives to its cosmetics, hemp textiles, and food and beverage business divisions.

“I have worked on various aspects of SARS-CoV-2  research for the last two years, with a focus on cannabinoid therapeutics more broadly,” said Dr. Annabelle Manalo-Morgan, scientist and head of Flora Pharma. “The intent of the study is to identify safe and efficacious cannabinoid products for use on SARS-CoV-2 thus allowing us to pursue the fastest path to market via a preventative immunomodulating product and to explore the possibility of use as a therapeutic. I believe the Flora team is best positioned to formulate, test, and ultimately bring to the market this kind of novel product offering.”

If approved, this would be the first product containing cannabinoids approved by the Colombian government for use against SARS-CoV-2, according to the press release.

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Flora Growth is not the only cannabis company pursuing cannabinoid-based SARS-CoV-2 treatments and related illnesses. Gb Sciences and a team of researchers at Michigan State University are working on cannabinoid-based treatments to target viral hyperinflammatory responses, much like those triggered by COVID-19.