During this time of national lockdown, some states have deemed medical and/or recreational cannabis dispensaries to be essential businesses, keeping them open while following new safety precautions, such as allowing for curbside pickup so customers don’t have to come in contact with other shoppers and dispensary employees and delivery people wearing gloves and masks while working. (Rules are changing every day, but as of March 30, 21 states had dispensaries open to some extent.)
But should consumers be concerned about using cannabis — particularly inhaling it — considering Covid-19 attacks the respiratory system, especially your lungs? Buy Marijuana online USA
While research on the effects of smoking cannabis on the novel coronavirus is scarce, experts warn that smoking or vaping anything is certainly not great for the lungs, no matter if it’s during a pandemic or not. “[Whether you’re] smoking tobacco, smoking cannabis, or vaping, you’re introducing foreign elements down deep into the lungs,” says Richard Castriotta, MD, a pulmonary critical care and sleep medicine specialist at Keck Medicine at the University of Southern California. “If you do a lot of it, you have more risk of a sustained injury with less of a chance for the lungs to recuperate and heal themselves over.”
American Lung Association spokesperson Cedric “Jamie” Rutland, MD says smoking specifically damages type 2 pneumocyte cells in the lungs — cells that are crucial to providing support to the lungs.
“It turns out the coronavirus also binds to the type 2 pneumocytea and causes significant illness that way,” Rutland says. “If you already have less type 2 pneumocytes, your lung is already under a significant amount of stress. So if you smoke and you contract the coronavirus, you’re probably going to be that much worse off.”
Castriotta also urges people to stop vaping — tobacco and cannabis — due to the added chemicals and their unknown long-term effects. He especially warns against using illicit cannabis vapes that have not been properly regulated and tested and are sold legally. Illicit vapes are often contaminated with vitamin E acetate, a chemical that has been linked to many cases of respiratory illness and death.
“Anything that you could do to reduce the risk of lung injury, you should do,” he says. “If you smoke anything and injure the lung in any way, you’re increasing the risk of the virus being able to penetrate deeper into the lung.”
“While some of these compounds do appear to have anti-inflammatory properties in preclinical studies, none of that has been effectively translated to humans in the context of viral infections, especially with Covid-19.”
InInaddition to considering the effects of cannabis on the lungs, it’s also important to consider its possible effects on the immune system, regardless of whether you’re inhaling it or ingesting the drug another way.
There are over 100 cannabinoids in the cannabis plant — the two main ones being THC and CBD — and most of them interact with the immune system in some way, according to Joy Phillips, PhD, a research assistant and professor of immunology at San Diego State University. Buy Marijuana online USA
Research on the effects of cannabinoids on the immune system has been contradictory, and there isn’t enough evidence to make a blanket statement on whether or not cannabis is beneficial or not.
“I could spin you a story quite easily, and I could back it up with science saying either that cannabis would be catastrophic to take in the presence of a viral infection or that cannabis could prevent or relieve viral infection,” says Phillips. “We just don’t know.”
Kevin Boehnke, PhD, a research investigator for the Chronic Pain and Fatigue Research Center at Michigan Medicine who primarily studies the effects of cannabis and cannabinoids on chronic pain, urges folks to be wary of online claims about cannabis helping Covid-19 symptoms.
“I have started to see articles and commentaries talking about the potential of using CBD or other cannabinoids to help manage symptoms,” says Boehnke. “While some of these compounds do appear to have anti-inflammatory properties in preclinical studies, none of that has been effectively translated to humans in the context of viral infections, especially with Covid-19.”
“If you smoke anything and injure the lung in any way, you’re increasing the risk of the virus being able to penetrate deeper into the lung.”
DDespite the spotty science, all the experts Elemental spoke with advised against smoking and vaping cannabis or tobacco during the coronavirus epidemic. The National Institute on Drug Abuse cautions that “because it attacks the lungs, the coronavirus that causes Covid-19 could be an especially serious threat to those who smoke tobacco or marijuana or who vape.”
So what are your options if you’re looking for a more responsible cannabis high?
Cannabis nurse Jessie Gill, RN, who works with many medical cannabis patients, says edibles are an excellent choice that won’t affect the lungs. Under the edibles umbrella, there’s plenty to choose from: gummies, candies, mints, cookies, and even some drinks. Tinctures are another option.
With any of these ingestion methods, follow the motto “start low and go slow” if you’re an edible newbie. Gill suggests beginning with a very low dosage, seeing how it affects you, and waiting two hours before taking more. Buy Marijuana online USA
Here are the caveats: First, for medical patients (or people who aren’t technically medical patients but use cannabis for a condition), different methods of consumption can cause different therapeutic effects, or lack thereof, according to Gill. “Some patients might not achieve the same symptom relief from another delivery method,” she says. Not everyone can process cannabinoids that are consumed orally, which means edibles wouldn’t have the same symptom-relieving effect as smoking would, for example. Gill says this is most often seen in people with digestive disorders.
Second, there’s an accessibility issue. Boehnke says he wants to “be realistic” and acknowledge that not everybody has access to legal, regulated, safe edibles.
If you must inhale your cannabis, Gill and Boehnke agree that the safest method is using a dry herb vaporizer. Not to be confused with your typical cannabis vape, which usually uses an oil cartridge and contains various other chemicals and additives, a dry herb vaporizer uses cannabis buds or flowers.
The device has a compartment for you to put your herb in. It heats up the flower, and then you’re ready to go. Boehnke says the dry herb vaporizer does not combust the cannabis, so it doesn’t cause the same damage as a joint would, for example. Gill adds that these vaporizers use a lower temperature than smoking, which reduces the risk of tissue damage.