This story is a staff report from The Paper.

Courtesy Photo: Sonya Yruel/Drug Policy Alliance

Collectively, the world has spent an estimated $21.7 trillion to fund COVID prevention research. It turns out, researchers could have just paid $11 for a nug from the local dispensary.

A new study published this week in the Journal of Nature Products and by the National Institutes of Health found that some of the most common compounds in cannabis can prevent COVID-19 from penetrating human cells, preventing infection.

In super-nerdy science language: “Cannabinoid acids from hemp (Cannabis sativa) were found to be allosteric as well as orthosteric ligands with micromolar affinity for the spike protein. In follow-up virus neutralization assays, cannabigerolic acid and cannabidiolic acid prevented infection of human epithelial cells by a pseudovirus expressing the SARS-CoV-2 spike protein and prevented entry of live SARS-CoV-2 into cells. Importantly, cannabigerolic acid and cannabidiolic acid were equally effective against the SARS-CoV-2 alpha variant B.1.1.7 and the beta variant B.1.351. Orally bioavailable and with a long history of safe human use, these cannabinoids, isolated or in hemp extracts, have the potential to prevent as well as treat infection by SARS-CoV-2.”

In plain language, cannabis compounds, long known to have a “history of safe human use,” could prevent–and possibly treat–COVID infection. For the record, other recently recommended treatments such as injecting bleach or drinking your urine have not been proven to have any anti-COVID properties (though they may be dangerous and/or gross).

Now you can feel good about smoking weed because science says so.

For what it’s worth, sales of state-licensed cannabis products begin on April 1 but the personal use of cannabis is no longer illegal for adults in New Mexico.

MORE: Who has the best cannabis in ABQ? Check the city’s best cannabis strains, dispensaries and more, as voted by The Paper.’s readers, at Best of Albuquerque in The Paper.