Here you are, sitting through your last Zoom meeting of the day as the nation begins to slowly open back up from the Coronavirus shutdowns. Just a few short months ago, this may have been the time of day where your friends would begin texting you to meet them out or perhaps, you’re the lone wolf type who prefers a tranquil post-work decompressing. Regardless of which category you fall into, it is probably safe to assume that if you’re reading this article, there is a shared similarity across the board… you’re going to enjoy some cannabis at the end of the day (or beginning of the day for our wake and bake buddies… we’ve got love for you too!).
But alas, we live in the new era of COVID-19. A pivotal point in time where “Puff, Puff, Pass” has become a linguistic relic of cannabis enthusiasts who literally blazed the trails before us. Gone are the days of half-assed attempts to be discreet when passing a THC vape around your circle of friends as you eyeball the city park’s security guard since you’re technically in a “no smoking” area. Besides, we all knew he was hitting his vape too as soon as he got around the corner. Being asked to relocate to a designated “smoking” area is no longer the biggest risk for those of us who enjoy our cannabis in *gasp* public.
Unless you fall into the aforementioned category of our special friends, the wake and bakers (but for real, we love you guys), you’ve probably figured out that the new risk of social smoking is the esteemed SARS-CoV-2. Whether you refer to it as Coronavirus, COVID-19, the ‘Rona or even “The Invisible Enemy,” one thing is certain… we should take our health and the health of those around us seriously. Even if it means we are slightly inconvenienced. So what does this mean for the 12% of adults in the United States who smoke cannabis according to a 2019 Gallup poll? Without getting into the nitty gritty of how the virus spreads since that intel has been drilled into our brains for months now, we want to look at how “the new normal” can affect your cannabis consumption and explore a few things you can do to better protect yourself and those around you.
Does smoking cannabis increase my risk of contracting COVID-19?
Again, we’re not a medical blog nor should this be taken as medical advice. We always recommend speaking with your primary healthcare provider for medical insight. That said, based on our research, it seems that the science community feels the act of smoking cannabis itself probably doesn’t paint a larger target on your head for Coronavirus contraction. But before you spark one up to celebrate (you already have, haven’t you? Bet you’re still on that Zoom meeting too…) you should know that there is more to the story.
In a recent interview with CNN Health, Dr. Albert Rizzo, a pulmonologist and chief medical officer for the American Lung Association discussed the inflammatory effect of inhaling cannabis smoke. If you’re looking for a TL;DR, (and let’s be honest, it’s 4:45 PM… you’re not trying to spend any more time disseminating Coronavirus information than necessary…) Dr. Rizzo goes on to explain how airway inflammation can increase the likelihood of complications were you to contract COVID-19. If you’ve had a pulse the past few months you should be well aware that “complications” is the last way you want your case described if you’re battling Coronavirus.
…That’s cool, but who smokes flower anymore? That’s so 2018! I only vape now…
While that massive vape cloud might provide some cover from your ex’s glare at the local dive bar, it isn’t doing shit to protect you from the virus. This is usually the point at which naysayers turn down their dubstep and fan away the atomized vegetable glycerin to jump in with, “Oh! But there aren’t any peer reviewed studies yet that say vaping contributes to COVID!” And they’re not wrong. Sort of.
There were no peer reviewed and published studies that explore ability for vaped cannabis products to potentiate Coronavirus contractibility and/or symptoms. But let’s be reasonable here, researchers around the world are focused on other things right now and even though vaping may be a staple of life for you, doesn’t mean that it is for them. As things settle down and time goes by, surely there will be vaping+COVID related studies that pop up and who knows what the results of these studies will be. What we DO know currently is that you should absolutely refrain from sharing your vape with anyone until things calm down and we more thoroughly understand this virus. It may sound obvious as you read it but the act of puffing your vape and passing it to the person next to you has become an instinctual second nature in the community. Heavy viral loads through saliva transmission is not something you want to deal with right now and waiting on a, “We’re good. I tested negative,” text from a friend because you weren’t safe is the type of worry that you vowed would never happen again after Spring Break 2016.
Vapes come in all shapes and sizes these days and are affordable for just about anyone. Want to share a session with your buddies? Why not be a real OG and gift them each their own vape so nobody has to pass one around? Just keep it outside because after all other information is considered, you’re still exhaling large volumes of air. Just because you’re getting high doesn’t mean you can forego consideration for others!
…Okay, but I’m already a germaphobe, I hate other people so I don’t have friends and I’m not a big fan of inhaling things… what do I do?
We got you! Look at it like this, 2020 is the year of the Germaphobe, more Americans are living alone now than ever and you don’t have to inhale things to be cool (just ask Bill Clinton).
Perhaps now is a better time than ever to work on your edibles game. So many folks think the process of making THC-infused edibles is better left the people working that shady looking brownie booth at music festivals but some user-friendly tools have completely changed things. With devices like the Ardent Nova, making edibles in your own kitchen is relatively simple these days.
Why edibles though? A few reasons…
- Your cannabis stretches a lot further: More bang for your buck.
- Edibles can be individually wrapped and distributed: Who doesn’t want to be friends with the person carrying a basket of wrapped THC edibles?
- You’re not inhaling anything: You get to experience the high without the inflammation risk from inhalation that we talked about earlier.
- They’re discreet: Okay, so we know that nobody really hides the fact that they consume cannabis anymore but you did promise your grandma that you would go to church with her if she survived the pandemic and you can’t exactly roll up in there with something that her friends refer to as “the Devil’s lettuce.”
- You can dial in the experience: Knowing how much you’ve dosed with an edible tends to be much easier than deducing how much you’ve had from an inhale-able product.
Bottom line: Everything is gonna be all right… eventually.
We’ve made it through a rough few months this year. The world has (for the most part) had to come together and fight harder than ever. We’ve had to give up normalcy in lieu of biological protections. Coronavirus doesn’t seem as though it is going by the wayside anytime soon but fortunately, nor does cannabis. If we can all just take a breath behind our masks and think twice about what we touch or how our actions may be putting others at risk, we can co-exist in a world with Covid-19 and cannabis.
We’re very much on a battlefield these days. Be that against Coronavirus, systemic racism our country is fighting through the Black Lives Matter civil rights movement happening now, social justice against the war on drugs, fighting to bring a regulated cannabis industry to your state or all of the above.
Regardless of your cause, one thing stands true: If our voice remains informed, united and loud, we can win the war. Coronavirus doesn’t have to be the end of the road for cannabis consumers but only if we can remain cautious (don’t tell grandma though).