Cannabis and COVID-19: What we know so far

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The novel coronavirus was first detected in Wuhan, China in December last year. Officially called COVID-19, the virus since then has become a global pandemic. In an effort to control the spread in Canada, it was announced recently that non-essential businesses will shut down in Ontario and Quebec. Pot shops, deemed essential, will remain open.

Cannabis, as it turns out, is an increasingly popular choice of those prepping for isolation.

As stores report an uptick in cannabis sales, here’s how Canadians can consume responsibly and help flatten the curve.

How to get high safely during Covid-19

“When someone’s lungs are exposed to flu or other infections, the adverse effects of smoking or vaping are much more serious than among people who do not smoke or vape.” iStock / Getty Images Plus

Use caution with THC

The high-inducing component, tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) may not go well if a person is experiencing flu-like symptoms. “Although no clinical trials exist showing poorer outcomes in patients infected with COVID-19 who use therapeutic or recreational cannabis, the data from pre-human studies urge caution for these individuals in the face of the current viral epidemic,” said Barry Mennen, a doctor who utilizes medical cannabis in his primary care practice.

Are vapers at risk?

People with the following health conditions, as highlighted by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, are at a high risk of contracting the infection.

  • Chronic lung disease or moderate to severe asthma
  • Heart disease with complications
  • Immunocompromised including cancer treatment

“When someone’s lungs are exposed to flu or other infections, the adverse effects of smoking or vaping are much more serious than among people who do not smoke or vape,” Stanton Glantz, professor of medicine at University of California, San Francisco, wrote in a blog post earlier this month. While there’s been little research about vaping cannabis, Glantz says the risk is certainly high.

Rather than stepping outside to make a pot purchase, learn how to make your cannabis last longer. Getty Images

Make your stash last longer

Cannabis that is getting old or dry can be repurposed and turned into edibles. Properly storing the bud can ensure it never goes bad in the first place. Laying down rules so as to avoid excessive use can go a long way in using cannabis responsibly.

Don’t be a #COVIDIOT

Listen to Prime Minister Justin Trudeau’s stern advice and practice social distancing even if that involves letting go of popular cannabis customs of sharing a joint.

COVID-19 brings out the best in Canadians

Toronto-based Thaomy Lam has been handing out free gift cards, of value $25 each, to people in need on the streets. Photo provided

With panic over COVID-19 panic at an all-time high, a growing number of Canadians who are taking on the role of “caremongers” — the opposite of scaremongering —  and helping spread kindness instead of panic.

Many are even using online communities of “caremongers” to lift morale. “More than 35 Facebook groups have been set up in 72 hours to serve communities in places including Ottawa, Halifax and Annapolis County in Nova Scotia, with more than 30,000 members between them,” BBC reported earlier this week.

Toronto-based Thaomy Lam’s has been handing out grocery store gift cards of $25 value as she goes out for her daily walks. “We’ve seen the toilet paper fight, the empty shelves, and it was honestly scaring me, too,” says Lam, who is as an events manager at cannabis retail chain Superette. “I realized that I can control my reaction through my actions.”

So far, Lam has handed out 500 gift cards from Shoppers Drug Mart and Loblaws. Earlier in March, she also bought two dozen children’s books and left it at the concierge for interested parents to take.

“Now that I have edibles made, I’d rather they be enjoyed than get stale on my counter.” iStock / Getty Images Plus

Sudbury-based Highlife Cannabis Co is switching focus from rolling papers to in-demand toilet papers. The cannabis store announced it will be handing out free toilet paper rolls to people on March 25. “We didn’t really plan to do this, but our staff were reaching out and saying it was very difficult to locate toilet paper in Sudbury at this point,” manager Eugene Konarev told the Sudbury Star.

Reddit user AurantiumAmara is here to make things easier for those who need a break. The Ottawa-based individual has been handing out free edibles as he has more than he can consume. “I’ve been giving away edibles and bud to friends, but also to people who help me out. Now that I have edibles made, I’d rather they be enjoyed than get stale on my counter,” he says.

Can cannabis fight coronavirus?

Claims about cannabis curing coronavirus have been doing the rounds on social media. But beware, for there is presently no cure, treatment or vaccine available to treat coronavirus. Home remedies or traditional medicine, the WHO points out, may offer comfort but cannot cure the infection.

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