April 20, 2020
2020 started with a bang, be it uncontrollable wildfires raging across Australia or Kobe Bryant’s sudden tragic passing. In the background, however, an epidemic was calmly spreading across China. As it grew in proportion the world suddenly started to pay attention. Whole countries started to lock down and all activity grinded to a halt. Now in April, we find ourselves with a rather unique 4/20. Normally a day of celebration and campaigning across the world, this year cannabis consumers will have to do so inside their own homes and stretch their imaginations. Tune in here for a very special 4/20. With this new disease threatening our health, there are some specific precautions that you can take to stay safe if you consume cannabis. Let’s clear the smoke about cannabis and COVID-19.
Does using cannabis increase the effects of COVID-19?
There hasn’t been any specific research as of yet on cannabis and COVID-19 but we can use some of the knowledge we already have about cannabis as well as viral infections to make some inferences.
Research has shown that cannabis interacts with the immune system but not in humans. The specifics of the interaction are not well understood but it may have a dampening effect, which would put you at increased risk of infection and severe disease.
There is a shortage of illicit recreational drugs across the UK, and likely in other countries as well. If you are physically dependent to cannabis and experience a supply issue you may fall into withdrawal. This will make you very vulnerable and put you at high risk. If this happens, you should consider shielding procedures to protect yourself.
Smoking might be the most common way of consuming cannabis, but it is certainly the most harmful, pandemic or no! Added to that, in certain countries it is common to mix in tobacco which adds to the risks. This is a well-known risk, evidenced in many studies. Smoking cannabis, with or without tobacco is highly detrimental to your lungs and will increases your risk of contracting a bad case of COVID-19.
Clearly, cannabis users should be wary and celebrate with caution. But how?
How can cannabis consumers stay safe during COVID-19?
It goes without saying, but the safest option is to not consume cannabis at all. Now that’s out the way, there are some precautions you can take if you decide to consume cannabis in the midst of the COVID-19 pandemic.
As mentioned above, smoking increases your risk of infection and of severe disease. Safer ways to consume cannabis include, using a vape, an edible, or cannabis oil. These methods are less harmful and carry less associated risks, plus there’s no tobacco! Don’t forget to check our cannabis harm reduction guide to stay safe as they still have some risks!
Don’t share the love
Consuming cannabis is often as much about the social aspect as the drug itself. Unfortunately, the SARS-COV-19 virus is spread via contact, so sharing a joint with others is one of the worst things you can do. So make sure everyone has their own personal means of consumption and don’t be tempted to meet up with friends from outside your household unless that’s allowed where you live.
Wash your hands
ALL. THE. TIME. Important moments include after you pick up (see if you can sanitise the baggie as well, but don’t go getting it wet now!) and after you touch anything outside your household. The virus can stay alive on surfaces for extended periods of time so be careful!
No need to summon Stephen Hawking from his grave, these aren’t hard to grasp (but might be harder to put into place) and will help you stay in control of your cannabis consumption. It’s important to define and use a separate space and times for when you have cannabis. For example you might only use cannabis on the weekend in the living room. This will help you keep your daily activities (such as work) separate in your mind. If you’re in a lockdown situation, we understand that this might not be possible if you have limited space and tight restrictions on personal movement.
Additionally, it cannot be understated how important taking care of yourself is, this will help your body and your mind in equal measures. Your government will have guidance on this but the core aspects are eating healthy, staying active, and getting enough sleep. Cannabis has potential negative repercussions on sleep, so it’s recommended to avoid going to bed will still under the effects. Beyond that, get some fresh air everyday if you can, stay in touch with your friends and family, and find things to do that motivate you so you don’t bounce off the walls too much.
Take a step back
The pandemic is a mentally straining time. For everyone. There’s likely to be a lot of boredom, stress, and anxiety. Combining cannabis, or indeed any drug, with these can be a recipe for trouble. Pandemic or not, using drugs to escape reality can rapidly evolve into substance abuse. Take a minute to stop and reflect on your use of cannabis and whether you feel in control of it. If you’re not happy with your answer, please reach out for help. We’re all in this together and things can only go up.
If you plan on using cannabis check out our cannabis harm reduction guide to learn about the experience, dosage, legality and more. All drugs pose risks, and the best way to avoid them is not to take any, but we understand that individuals still choose to so Drugs and Me exists to provide information about drugs to help reduce their harms based on the best evidence available. Drugs and Me is powered by the Alcohol and other Drugs Education Consultancy, to be objective, unbiased, and freely accessible.
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Stay safe from the Drugs and Me team :)