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Does Smoking Cannabis Elevate Your Risk of Contracting COVID19?

April 15, 2020 10:11 am ET
Does Smoking Cannabis Elevate Your Risk of Contracting COVID19?

The early months of 2020 have introduced all of us to a strange new landscape. Cannabis legalization has continued to spread, with the state of Illinois legalizing marijuana for recreational use and sale at the start of the year and many states likely to follow behind. With the addition of Illinois to the roster, recreational cannabis is now legal in eleven states, with medical cannabis being legal in an additional 22. But, of course, legalization is far from the only defining event of 2020. Currently, both headlines and all of our thoughts are dominated by the details of the coronavirus. How can we help our friends and neighbors during this trying time? How can we support local businesses and still remain financially solvent ourselves? And most important, how can we protect ourselves and our families, and remain safe and well?

Lung Health and the Coronavirus

COVID19 is a disease that attacks the lungs, and we already know that tobacco smokers who contract the illness are at a higher risk of having it turn serious and potentially deadly than are those who don’t smoke. Experts have encouraged tobacco smokers to abandon the habit so their lungs can start to heal and strengthen up.

But how does that idea translate to cannabis smokers?

Although cannabis is not as damaging to the lungs as tobacco is, regular smokers could still find themselves at a higher risk of having a mild case of the virus turn into a serious one. Anything that weakens or damages the lungs can pose a risk right now.

If you are able, this is a good time to consider changing your cannabis intake method. Instead of smoking, you might find that an edible suits you. Sublingual oils are also a good way to get the substance into your system quickly. Thanks to cannabis’ having been legalized in so many places, there is a wide variety of cannabis-infused substances on the market.

If it is your habit to smoke cannabis and tobacco together, you can increase your lung health by removing tobacco from the equation.

Contracting the Virus

Smoking regularly can take a case of COVID19 from mild to serious. But what about catching the disease in the first place? Does cannabis use put you more at risk for that?

The answer to that question is much the same as it is for any other activity you might partake in—not as long as you do it wisely.

Practice social distancing. Although some cannabis dispensaries currently remain open as essential businesses, refrain from visiting them more than you have to. See if your local dispensary has a curbside pickup option that would save you from having to go inside the store. If such an option is not available, wear a mask if you have one and make sure you wash your hands thoroughly before and after your time in the store.

Smoking cannabis has often been framed as a social activity, with a group of people sitting around and sharing a joint. That couldn’t possibly be a worse idea at the moment. Even if you happen to be quarantined with a large group, you should avoid the cross-contamination that can occur when you put your mouths on the same object. If one person in your circle contracts the virus, immediately they’ll have spread it to everyone else. And remember, the virus spreads before symptoms begin to show.

That said, as long as you are sensible, smoking cannabis will not place you in a higher risk group for contracting COVID19. Stay away from others and keep yourself scrubbed, and you should be fine.

Stay safe. Stay home.

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