(TMU) — The spread of the coronavirus has disrupted or destroyed many things: the airline industry, the economy, and any sense of normalcy that we may have enjoyed until quite recently.
And now, it appears that CoViD-19 will also change the way marijuana smokers enjoy their beloved herb, figures in the U.S. cannabis industry warned on Wednesday.
The furious spread of the novel virus means that smokers should no longer share their joints and in general should lean more toward enjoying edible products, advocates warned.
In a statement, pro-cannabis lobbying group the National Organization for the Reform of Marijuana Laws (NORML) warned that “while we are living through the current pandemic we should all be more mindful of our day-to-day consumption practices, and how the choices we make impact not only ourselves, but also those we care about.”
Continuing, NORML Executive Director Erik Altieri said:
“As long as cultures have consumed cannabis, the practice of sharing a joint among friends has been a common social practice.
But given what we know about COVID-19 and its transmission, it would be mindful during this time to halt this behavior.”
Altieri also warned users that it is dangerous to continue sharing the implements used to smoke cannabis—such as bong, vaping pens, water pipes, and other devices—and these should be cleaned with disinfectant gel.
So far, the coronavirus has killed at least 154 people across the United States—a toll experts believe will sharply rise in the coming days. The overwhelming majority of reported fatalities involved people with underlying health conditions ranging from heart ailments to diabetes, kidney failure, and hypertension.
Some experts also believe that smoking or vaping can make people more vulnerable to a severe infection including pneumonia due to the coronavirus, Scientific American reports. This is primarily due to the wealth of evidence showing that smoking can suppress immune functions of the lungs, triggering inflammation. Preliminary research shows that the same can be true of e-cigarette smokers.
Melodi Pirzada, the chief of pediatric pulmonology at NYU Winthrop Hospital on Long Island, said:
“All these things make me believe that we are going to have more severe cases—especially [in] people who are [long-term] smokers or vapers … it is definitely common sense to think that once you have a history of smoking or vaping, the whole airways, the defense mechanism of your lungs—everything changes.”
Additionally, the NORML statement noted:
“Further, because COVID-19 is a respiratory illness, some of you may wish to limit or avoid their exposure to combustive smoke — as this can put undue stress and strain on the lungs.”
Altieri added that “the use of edibles or tinctures can eliminate smoke exposure entirely.”
The statement added that it remains important to obtain regulated, lab-tested products—although it still remains difficult to purchase regulated cannabis products in states that still enforce prohibition. The statement continued:
“This advice is especially pertinent for portable vaping devices, as unregulated products have been known to contain vitamin E and other dangerous additives that can harm the lungs.
Concluding, Altieri said:
“We also encourage everyone to remain vigilant of online misinformation (like any claims cannabis or CBD can help cure or protect against this virus) and to beware of potential scammers promoting similar claims.”
NORML claims that roughly 25 million Americans have smoked cannabis in the last year.
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