The coronavirus pandemic
has impacted nearly every facet of society at this point, including the medical marijuana sector. This month's 4/20 celebrations were a more subdued affair, with deals spread out over several days and social distancing keeping people waiting in lines six feet apart.
But the outbreak has given us even more reason to celebrate cannabis. With decreases in air pollution caused by a departure from our typical routines, silver linings are brighter than usual.
Dispensaries have stepped up precautions to ensure patient health and safety, bolstered financial support for employees and their families and donated much needed supplies.
Earlier this month, Downtown Dispensary donated 400 masks to the Tohono O'odham Nation in a concerted effort between owner Moe Asnani and Tucson Mayor Regina Romero.
In Phoenix, cultivation company Grow Sciences has donated more than 100 ounces of cannabis through partner dispensaries Local Joint, The Holistic Center and Health for Life to patients whose incomes have diminished or, in some cases, decimated. Owners Mike Cuthriell and Matt Blum organized a Tucson "stimulus package" through Harvest of Tucson the week before 4/20 as well.
But at least one dispensary's marketing department saw a different opportunity amidst the outbreak.
Phoenix dispensary YiLo Superstore received a cease and desist order from the Arizona Attorney Generals Office to stop advertising an "immunization stabilizer tincture" called Coronav "should you come down with a life-threatening virus."
Regular circumstances might dictate a certain lack of subtlety when it comes to profiting, but when the stakes include life and death, the state considers YiLo's advertisement fraud.
"Exploiting vulnerable patients' health concerns by selling fake cures or treatments for a serious disease is wrong," Attorney General Mark Brnovich said in a statement.
At least some professionals in the industry agree.
It certainly doesn't shed the cannabis industry in the best light compared to the actions of other dispensaries and cultivators.
YiLo sent out text messages advertising the product as well as instructions for use on their website. The product doesn't appear to contain any cannabis, mentioning only reagents used to create a chlorine dioxide solution.
Chlorine dioxide is toxic, by the way.
The Food & Drug Administration released a statement April 8 that "the agency is not aware of any scientific evidence supporting" the safety or effectiveness of chlorine dioxide solutions and "they pose significant risks to patient health."
The statement was a reiteration of a previous warning to not to consume such products after the FDA noticed companies still trying to sell them.
"A Word on Coronavirus," since removed from the company's website, admits anecdotal evidence in chlorine dioxide's effectiveness in treating respiratory diseases such as Swine Flu, Ebola and Anthrax.
Several scientific studies published by the National Center for Biotechnology Information under the National Institutes for Health mention chlorine dioxide in treating Influenza A such as the Swine Flu.
One study demonstrates effectiveness of chlorine dioxide gas in treating mice exposed to the virus and concludes a gas could treat humans as well.
Another shows disinfecting water with chlorine dioxide helps decrease the spread of Swine Flu specifically.
But there's a problem.
Coronavirus and influenza are not the same thing.
They are in fact different viruses.
It's easy to see how one could convince themselves and others that chlorine dioxide could effectively treat coronavirus. But the bottom line is that we don't know chlorine dioxide treats coronavirus. We do know it's toxic.
Unlike contender for source of the most embarrassing FDA warnings Donald Trump, we may be able to give YiLo Superstore the benefit of the doubt.
But as a general rule, take medical advice from your preferred health professional—whichever doctrine they practice—and not those who profit from your medical preferences.