Inhaling cannabis smoke could exacerbate any existing condition related to COVID-19
Smoking cannabis has been the most popular method of consumption for the past couple of decades, and, with the global health emergency caused by COVID-19, some extra measures should be taken to help keep everyone healthy. By now, most people understand the importance of keeping social distance and washing our hands for at least 20 seconds several times a day. There are some other changes that can be applied to increase the odds of reducing the harm that could be caused by this viral infection. Dr. Steffanie Strathdee is an infectious disease epidemiologist dedicated to reducing harm in people with drug addiction and feels that smoking cannabis should be set aside amid the coronavirus pandemic in preference to other methods.
“Right now, we are facing a pandemic where SARS-CoV-2 attacks lung cells, preferentially in the lower respiratory tract. In my view, better to be safe than sorry, so I’d advise anyone who uses marijuana to switch to edibles, especially if they have underlying health conditions like respiratory problems (asthma, COPD), heart problems (hypertension, diabetes), or immune deficiencies,” said Strathdee. She does not claim to be an expert in cannabis nor pulmonary disease, but she does believe smokers might have increased risk.
For Strathdee, there is an added risk in people that smokes and harm the cilia-parts – responsible for keeping airways clear of dirt, mucus and other irritants – of lung cells and cells all throughout the respiratory tract. “Younger people may get milder illnesses, but I think it stands to reason that you still increase the chance of a serious complication, [like a] secondary bacterial infection if you get infected with SARS-CoV-2 and you have burned all your cilia,” said Strathdee. Lungs with fewer cilia have more difficulty removing virus and bacteria up and out of the lungs, which is very important to fight this respiratory virus back.