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Former NFL player Kyle Turley under fire for claiming CBD can cure coronavirus

A window display of CBD-based products is seen at a branch of the health chain Holland and Barrett in February in London, England.Leon Neal/Getty

Marijuana Moment is a wire service assembled by Tom Angell, a marijuana legalization activist and journalist covering marijuana reform nationwide. The views expressed by Angell or Marijuana Moment are neither endorsed by the Globe nor do they reflect the Globe’s views on any subject area.

Former NFL player Kyle Turley believes CBD can prevent and cure coronavirus, and he’s not backing down on the clinically unsubstantiated claim — despite pushback from marijuana legalization supporters and prohibitionists alike.

In fact, he accused advocates of cowardice, saying 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 enforcement against his CBD company over his 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.

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,” said Erik Altieri, executive director of NORML. “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.”

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.”

“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. The 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.

The agency has sent several similar warning letters to companies over the last year, imploring them to cease making therapeutic claims that aren’t backed up by research.


But as far as Turley is concerned, FDA action would represent an opportunity, he said.

“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.”

In another tweet, Turley appeared to claim that cannabis products are “the cure for cancer.”

The former NFL player also said 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. He said that Louisiana-based individual will receive a full month’s supply of CBD from his company.

Advocates have been loud and clear that businesses should not promote misleading claims about marijuana amid 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.”

Read the full story on Marijuana Moment.