As the United States is on lockdown, people have been stocking up on essentials like food, toilet paper, and medical marijuana. We don’t know when the coronavirus crisis will end, and the population’s overall social distancing compliance means less people allowed in stores at one time, keeping six feet away, and waiting in long lines to purchase items. Instead of heading to the store everyday, most people are getting in and getting out with as much as they can in one trip.
If you’ve been stocking up on cannabis, that’s good. However, more people have been asking this question lately:
Could smoking cannabis put you at greater risk if you were to contract coronavirus?
Some say yes.
Since the coronavirus attacks the lungs, medical experts are advising smokers to quit, at least for the time being. Being a smoker could, in fact, increase your risk of fatality if you were to get infected. The vast majority of research done on smoking and lung damage has been centered on nicotine and not marijuana. For example, research has uncovered that smoking tobacco products causes damage, sometimes severe, to the lung’s cilia, which are little microscopic structures that the lungs use to discard whatever doesn’t belong there. Mucus, bacteria – and yes – viruses are just some of those things. Because long-term smoking causes damage to the cilia, patients are more at risk for respiratory complications, such as pneumonia.
A person who contracts coronavirus will feel inflammation of the lungs, coughing, shortness of breath, mucus production, and in severe cases pneumonia. In fact, in most deaths it’s not the actual virus that kills the patient but pneumonia, brought on by the coronavirus. Pneumonia is particularly dangerous because it diminishes the lung’s capacity to take in oxygen and get rid of carbon dioxide. Smoking tobacco is sure to put a person more at risk, but what about marijuana? Even though there hasn’t been much research done to link marijuana smoking with lung damage, the medical community generally agrees that smoking marijuana likely causes damage to the cilia. This means that marijuana smokers may be putting themselves at greater risk during the coronavirus outbreak.
What about Vaping?
There isn’t any research on the long-term effects of vaping itself, therefore, as it may be safer than smoking a joint, it’s safer to assume that any form of smoking, including vaping, puts individuals at higher risk of dying if infected by coronavirus.
What about Young People?
Those over 65 and those with preexisting conditions, such as diabetes or asthma, should refrain from vaping or smoking. As for millennials, they are still putting themselves at risk. While the virus may have a higher fatality rate for those over 50, young people are still dying from coronavirus.
What’s the Alternative?
The safest alternative at this time is to switch to edibles. With so many different cannabis infused edible products at your local dispensary, you will get your medical marijuana prescription filled but in a much safer way during this crisis. Right now, edibles, tinctures, and topicals are the best alternative to smoking marijuana for a variety of ailments.