The new coronavirus outbreak is already taking a major toll on the cannabis industry and cannabis trade events. Individual marijuana users should also expect some disruptions in their daily lives and their medical regiment as the virus continues on its uncharted course across the world. There are already indications that we could soon see shortages of some cannabis products due to a slow-down in trade, travel, and manufacturing.
Here are some steps that medical cannabis patients and consumers can use to stay safer, and get some peace of mind.
Puff puff, don’t pass
So much of marijuana culture revolves around its use as a social, shared activity between friends and smoking partners — even among medical patients. This opens people up to infection, especially when a highly-contagious virus is on the loose. For now at least, hold off on passing joints around or sharing pipes and bongs. Use your own paraphernalia and supplies. Your friends will understand.
Hygiene, it’s more than just washing your hands
One of the frightening aspects of coronavirus is that it’s still unclear how long it can linger on a surface and still be transmittable. “Cousins” of COVID-19, like those that cause SARS and MERS, can stay on a surface for up to nine days, a recent study found. The study also found that treating these surfaces with a disinfect that’s 61-71% ethanol can be highly effective in decontaminating them. Practice good hygiene when visiting the dispensary. Wash your hands or use a disinfectant after touching any surfaces or having physical interactions with other people. You may even want to use alcohol wipes to disinfect the packaging of your cannabis products.
According to the World Health Organization, those who are at highest risk of complications from coronavirus include people with chronic health conditions like asthma. This is the same with the typical flu, which can be especially dangerous for people with respiratory conditions. If you’re in an at-risk population, in order to keep your lungs as clean as possible, consider using non-smokable forms of cannabis for now.
Can Cannabis Treat COVID-19?
No. Most medical doctors do not recommend using cannabis to help treat even milder viruses like the common flu. Nevertheless, cannabis may be able to alleviate some of the uncomfortable flu-like symptoms such as aches and pains, nausea, and trouble sleeping.
There is one study that examined the effect the endocannabinoid system has on mice infected with the influenza virus. In that study, scientists discovered that, after suffering a bout of influenza, mice with normally functioning endocannabinoid systems had significantly less damage to their lung tissue than mice whose endocannabinoid systems had been genetically modified. While these results may be interesting, it is hardly enough evidence to provide substantial conclusions about how cannabis affects humans who have the flu, let alone COVID-19.
As mentioned earlier, it is not recommended to smoke anything if you have the flu, as you want to avoid causing further damage to the lungs and throat.
If you already regularly take cannabis to treat a medical condition, it’s best to contact the medical provider that prescribed your cannabis and let them know your situation. They will have the best advice on whether you should continue using medical cannabis while you are sick or if you should wait it out.
Meanwhile, hygiene, hygiene, hygiene.