Former NFL player Kyle Turley believes CBD can prevent and cure coronavirus—and he’s not backing down on that clinically unsubstantiated claim despite pushback from marijuana legalization supporters and prohibitionists alike.
In fact, he accused those advocates of cowardice, alleging in an interview with Marijuana Moment that they’re afraid of the consequences of spreading what he claims is the “truth” about cannabis. He also said he would welcome Food and Drug Administration (FDA) enforcement against his CBD company over these COVID-19 claims and would use such an action as an opportunity to expose the government for covering up the medical potential of the plant.
In a series of tweets in recent weeks, Turley has repeatedly hawked CBD products, arguing that because the compound interacts with the endocannabinoid system, which plays some role in regulating the immune system, they can be used to prevent and cure coronavirus. He says he’s basing that take on anecdotal evidence, as well as conversations he said he’s had with experts in the field.
CBD CAN PREVENT AND CURE THE CORONA VIRUS!
— KT (@KyleTurley) March 8, 2020
But the claim about a CBD coronavirus cure isn’t backed by clinical research. And at a time when there is no vaccine or approved treatment option available for the virus, advocates and experts say this kind of marketing is dangerous and could lead people to avoid conventional health care options, putting them at risk.
“The last thing the world needs in these difficult and often confusing times is someone with any level of celebrity using their public platform to sell their personal products on false promises and pseudoscience,” Erik Altieri, executive director of NORML, told Marijuana Moment. “Marijuana and its components do not cure the coronavirus, to say the opposite just to put a few more bucks in your pocket is grotesque. All Americans should be on alert for these modern day charlatans and snake oil salespeople.”
But Turley evidently is undeterred by the criticism. He tweeted on Sunday that “CANNABIS WILL PREVENT & CURE COVID19!!!!!!!” and acknowledged that the statement would elicit “hate.”
CANNABIS WILL PREVENT & CURE COVID19!!!!!!!…..commence the hate
— KT (@KyleTurley) March 29, 2020
In a phone interview with Marijuana Moment on Monday, the athlete-turned-entrepreneur said he has “lots of reasons to believe what I believe and I will continue to proclaim god’s truth in this whole thing because he saved my life through this plant. Period.”
But it’s not a point taken well by allies and opponents of marijuana reform, who’ve widely condemned the claim.
This is so extremely dangerous! A dispensary owner & CBD brand owner is tweeting that cannabis will prevent and cure corona virus. 🤯🤦🏼♀️ https://t.co/kflUpvhtmJ
— Alice Moon (@thealicemoon) March 30, 2020
Spreading disinformation about the effectiveness of cannabis does a serious disservice to the legitimacy of it’s medical efficacy, but also disrespects every legitimate activist and advocate who paved the way for his historic moment.
This is deplorable. https://t.co/WMEq3byORA
— 𝑽𝑰𝑵𝑪𝑬 (@VinnieChant) March 30, 2020
People have given their lives for this plant, spent decades behind bars to make sure people had cannabis, all for clowns and carpetbaggers like @KyleTurley to say ignorant shit like this.
YOU'RE NOT WANTED. THIS ISN'T A GAME. YOU CAN LEAVE NOW. 👋🤡 https://t.co/NLFAFu0AcC
— Very Real Jake Browne (@fakejakebrowne) March 30, 2020
“All I’m saying is that the immune system will kill the coronavirus if you give your immune system cannabis. It will boost it to its levels where it will kill the coronavirus,” Turley said. “In return, it is very feasible and logical for me to back my statements and say CBD will cure and prevent the coronavirus. Why wouldn’t it?”
Turley is promoting a line of CBD products from his company, NEURO XPF, with an ad using the slogan “Crush Corona” along with artistic renditions of the virus. FDA would likely take issue with that kind of advertising, as it’s made clear it will take enforcement action against cannabis companies that make unsubstantiated claims about the therapeutic potential of their products.
— KT (@KyleTurley) March 27, 2020
The agency has sent several warning letters to such companies over the last year, imploring them to cease making therapeutic claims that aren’e backed up by research.
But as far as Turley is concerned, FDA action would represent an opportunity.
“I welcome it,” he said. “Please shut my company down so I can have another blockbuster press release on how the FDA and the United States government is suppressing truth and information when we have study after study now being driven by major cannabis companies in getting clinical trials to prove what I’m saying is true.”
Several people have commented on Turley’s Twitter posts, encouraging him to stop spreading misinformation about the therapeutic potential of cannabis when it comes to the virus.
No it won’t. This is dangerous misinformation. https://t.co/NsnFZrMqEY
— Dan Adams (@Dan_Adams86) March 30, 2020
That’s not what this link says, at all. You are recklessly encouraging people to believe they can protect themselves simply by consuming cannabis, which puts them and everyone around them in danger. You should be ashamed of yourself for peddling this nonsense.
— Dan Adams (@Dan_Adams86) March 30, 2020
In another tweet, Turley appeared to claim that cannabis products are “the cure for cancer.”
btw here’s the cure for cancer…do the people you help know how much you don’t really believe in it? 🤔🌱🧠⚡️ pic.twitter.com/AEmVgxLg7P
— KT (@KyleTurley) March 30, 2020
this is dangerous misinformation. take this down!!
— Vanessa Dora Lavorato (@VanessaMarigold) March 30, 2020
I hereby award @KyleTurley with the 2020 Alex Berenson Award for outstanding cannabis disinformation & shameless self-promotion at expense of other peoples' health & well-being.
— Peter Grinspoon MD — idealist in a dystopia (@Peter_Grinspoon) March 30, 2020
By your logic, CBD cures everything. Sadly, this has been studied for many conditions, and simply isn't true. The human body is vastly more complex than your understanding of it is. The information you are putting out is harming people — there is no evidence CBD helps Corona.
— Peter Grinspoon MD — idealist in a dystopia (@Peter_Grinspoon) March 29, 2020
When football players give out medical advice (that will fatten their pocketbooks).
Please. Stop. This is supremely dangerous. https://t.co/DW7j0krhkZ
— Kevin Sabet (@KevinSabet) March 30, 2020
The former NFL player also said on Sunday that he would mail free CBD to individuals who reach out with documentation showing that they’ve tested positive for COVID-19. So far, he said, only one person has reached out with a positive test, and that that Louisiana-based individual will receive a full month’s supply of CBD from his company NEURO XPF.
If anyone has been diagnosed with COVID19 dm me & I’ll drop cbd in the mail to you for free, dm the test w/address. GodSpeed! 🙏🌱🧠⚡️ pic.twitter.com/8vjkZbFqz5
— KT (@KyleTurley) March 30, 2020
Advocates have been loud and clear that businesses should not promote misleading claims about marijuana in the midst of this pandemic. They’ve further recommended avoiding combustable marijuana products, as the virus targets the respiratory system.
Turley had a simple message for advocates who have rejected his claims: “Cowards. Cowards.”
“I’ve been putting in work on my own dime, on my own time, taking away from my family, to move this conversation forward. And that’s what I’ve done,” he said, adding that they’re “scared to say too much because we don’t want the government, we don’t want the man, to start coming down on us.”
“Well guess what? I was a first round draft pick, I made millions of dollars, god saved my life through this plant and I live in America. So get used to it,” he said. “And I’m going to continue to spread his word.”
Photo courtesy of Brian Shamblen.