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Cannabis and coronavirus: Here’s what you need to know


coronavirus, COVID-19, infection, virus, cannabis and the flu

Masks are for patients (COVID-19 symptoms) and healthcare workers. If you’re not sick, wash your hands. And don’t pass that joint around. (Belkin & Co/AdobeStock)

The global concern over the novel coronavirus known as COVID-19 has many people taking precautions against contracting the virus. Here’s what we know about cannabis and COVID-19.

How cannabis users can stay healthy around coronavirus

Stop sharing joints, blunts, and bongs while coronavirus is spreading

The puff-and-pass customs surrounding cannabis are among the greatest pleasures of the plant. But passing around a joint is is a good way to spread any virus, including COVID-19. For now, stick to your own supply and offer a friendly elbow bump.

Wash your hands frequently

We can’t emphasize this enough. Thorough handwashing really, really, really does help prevent transmission of coronavirus, as well as other ailments. Before you sit down for a session or dig into some munchies, make sure to wash your hands for a count of 20 seconds. That’s as long as it takes to sing “Happy Birthday to You”—or the first chorus of Sublime’s “Smoke Two Joints.” Just saying.

Don’t buy into unproven coronavirus remedies

Given the general hype around CBD, expect to hear outlandish claims about its effect on coronavirus, most likely spread via social media. These claims are not true. There is no solid research on CBD and coronavirus.

Practice social distancing. Now.

Everyone in North America should now be fully into a social distancing regimen. That means:

  • If you can, work from home.
  • Reduce, limit, or eliminate trips to public gathering spots. Stop jamming the bars and cafes!
  • Keep 6 feet of distance between yourself and others.
  • Plan necessary shopping (groceries, medicine) for low-traffic hours, early morning or late night.
  • Postpone or cancel events. Weddings, birthday parties, card nights: No. Done.
  • Help people in high-risk categories. A simple trip to the grocery store could be a life-or-death decision for them. If you’re in a low-risk demographic, offer to pick up their items the next time you make a run.

Be cautious with cannabis around any virus

Smoking weed when you’re down with a virus: Not such a great idea. Leafly’s article Cannabis for colds and flu? Here’s what the experts say has a lot of helpful advice about integrating cannabis (or not) into the treatment and recovery from the normal flu. Yes, THC and CBD have pain-relieving, sleep-inducing, and anti-inflammatory properties.

But inhaling hot smoke is the last thing your lungs need when fighting a cold or flu. Do your research before medicating.RelatedCannabis for colds and flu? Here’s what the experts say

Take precautions about physical contact with others

Stop shaking hands. A wave or friendly verbal greeting helps everyone. You don’t need to lock yourself in a panic room, but do consider your interactions with other people and with public surfaces when out and about.

Leave the face masks for ill patients and healthcare providers

The CDC and other health agencies are clear on this: Masks are meant to prevent already infected patients from spreading the virus and to protect healthcare professionals working in high-risk environments. Frequent handwashing is far more effective than wearing a mask.

Be aware of COVID-19 symptoms

Don’t jam up the emergency room if it’s just a common cold, but get yourself tested if you fit the criteria for COVID-19 symptoms. Those include:

  • Fever
  • Cough
  • Shortness of breath
  • I have been in contact with a COVID-19 patient or traveled recently to an area with an ongoing spread.

Note: The definition of “area with ongoing spread” changes practically by the hour, and this item on the symptom list is becoming less important as the virus is recognized as extant in local communities.

Check yourself with this flow chart

Illustrator Wendy MacNaughton teamed up with UCSD infectious disease expert Eliah Aranoff-Spencer to create this updated guide, published on Medium.

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