Masks are for patients and healthcare workers. If you’re not sick, wash your hands. And don’t pass that joint around. (Belkin & Co/AdobeStock)
This story was updated at 11am on March 18, 2020.
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.
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 a 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.
Why are we doing this? Isn’t everyone eventually going to get it?
The point isn’t to seal up the virus in a jar, or halt it at our borders. That moment has passed. What we’re all working to do now is make sure the infections don’t all hit at once and overwhelm our limited medical supplies and hospital capacity.
If 100 people require a hospital’s Intensive Care Unit, and the ICU can only handle 15 at a time, 85 people may die needlessly. If the infections in those 100 people are spread out over many weeks and months, though, we can get most of them through this alive.
The Washington Post has one of the best visual explanations of why we’re all working to flatten the curve:
Why outbreaks like coronavirus spread exponentially, and how to “flatten the curve” https://wapo.st/39MCAqB These simulations show how to flatten the coronavirus growth curveThe early trickle of new coronavirus infections has turned into a steady current. By creating simple simulations, we can see how to slow it down.washingtonpost.com6,17011:16 PM – Mar 14, 2020Twitter Ads info and privacy4,282 people are talking about this
And Julie McMurry at #FlattenTheCurve has a great thread explaining why we’re buying time:
For those of you in the general public wondering “OK but what next; aren’t cases just going to start up again when distancing measures are lifted?” #SocialDistancing #StaySafeStayHome #coronavirus
A thread: 1/788:13 PM – Mar 18, 2020Twitter Ads info and privacy52 people are talking about this
How are we doing so far?
Not so great. Check out the United States’ trajectory on the latest graph:
NEW: our biggest update yet of the coronavirus mortality and case trajectory trackers
• US added more cases and deaths yesterday than on any day so far
• We also introduce some brand new charts tracking smaller countries
Live version here: https://www.ft.com/content/a26fbf7e-48f8-11ea-aeb3-955839e06441 …
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:
- Shortness of breath
- Have been in contact with a COVID-19 patient, or traveled recently to an area with 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.
“What Should I Do?” An Illustated Corona Virus Advice Flowchart, by yours truly and an infections disease doctor/researcher at UCSD. We will update it as things evolve (check the timestamp upper left.) https://medium.com/@wendymacnaughton_7770/what-should-i-do-illustated-corona-virus-advice-flowchart-57077138a387 …
Have a self-quarantine plan
At this point we’re talking about a spectrum, from choosing a work-at-home option (if you’re fortunate enough to have that choice) to a full-on home quarantine. The CDC has a page of recommendations for those who stay home with a suspected case of COVID-19.
Are bong condoms really a thing?
Absolutely! Get yourself one of these fun devices. One of our in-house experts suggests this $9.99 silicone MouthPeace from Mooselabs, which uses activated carbon filters. Jay the Cannabis Explorer reviews it in the video below:
Another suggestion: Pax Era mouthpiece covers can be had for $4.30 a pop from Delta 3D Studios. Use an X-Acto knife to cut a hole in the closed end and you’ve got yourself a personal lip caddy.
Note: Most viral transmission happens via the hands, so while you’re being so clever with your lips you should watch your fingers, which are holding a bong or vape that many others have just recently held as well. Just saying.
Will this affect cannabis product supplies?
Because all legal cannabis products are produced within the state in which they’re sold, industry experts aren’t expecting a shortage of actual cannabis due to import slowdowns.
That’s not to say there won’t be shortages or supply interruptions in certain products. Most vape batteries and wholesale vape cartridges are manufactured in China. Those supply chains have already seen slowdowns and interruptions due to quarantines impacting the Chinese manufacturing sector.
The US imports about 30 million Chinese vape pens and cartridges every month. Most shipments stopped due to the annual Chinese New Year shutdown in mid-January and haven’t fully resumed due to the coronavirus.RelatedCoronavirus drives cannabis sales bump, then slump
“A supply pinch is coming in weeks and will persist for months,” says Dan Fung, CEO of American Made Vapes. “Prices will rise. Shortages of packaging and vape pens could occur.”
Much of the packaging materials utilized by cannabis companies is also manufactured in China, so a slowdown in those materials may result in a slowdown in stateside production.
The development of new cannabis-related products may be slowed as well, as designers and manufacturers can’t rely on a steady supply of wholesale products and materials from China right now.
Will this affect 4/20 events?
The answer is yes. Organizers of 4/20 celebrations, which are now less than six weeks away, are already considering how a wider outbreak of COVID-19 could impact their events. Some have begun postponements or cancellations.RelatedDid coronavirus cancel your cannabis event? Check here
One cannabis store manager told Leafly he was putting a food truck ordered for 4/20 on hold because of health concerns. 4/20 festivals were already changing and evolving due to the expansion of legalization. The coronavirus outbreak may further accelerate that change in ways that are hard to predict right now.
What about legalization campaigns?
If COVID-19 spreads to more American cities, we may see more cancellations of larger events, gatherings, and festivals. Larger-scale shopping malls and commercial districts may see a downturn in pedestrian traffic. That may affect the ability of signature gatherers to bank enough names to qualify legalization initiatives by a given deadline.
Leafly’s Election 2020 page has a full rundown of all the state legalization campaigns currently aiming at the November 2020 ballot.
This article originally published March 2. Leafly updated it March 13.