Since the start of the COPID-19 pandemic in the first months of 2020, many people have been affected by the disease. At the time of writing, an estimated 103 million people have been infected with the virus, and more than 2 million have died. While the pandemic is still in full swing around the world, everyone is still worried about viral infections and serious complications.

For people who use medical marijuana to treat complications of a chronic illness, this concern may be greater, especially if the chosen method of ingesting the marijuana is smoking it. But what is the effect of smoking medical marijuana on COVID-19? Are people who use medical marijuana at greater risk?

How is COVID-19 primarily transferred?

COVID-19 virus can be transmitted from person to person in several ways. The greatest risk of transmission is through airborne droplets. When a person coughs, sneezes, sings, screams or speaks, droplets are emitted into the air. If a person breathes in infected droplets, they now have the virus in their system as well.

Droplets range in size from small (often called aerosols, which can remain suspended in the air) to large (falling quickly to the ground). This leads to the assumption that large drops are less dangerous than small ones. During coughing, large and small droplets can be formed, depending on their origin. If droplets form in the larynx and are then spat out into the air, they are likely to be smaller droplets, whereas droplets from the mouth are usually larger when spat out.

image by Elsa Olofsson on Unsplash : Can smoking medical marijuana increase the risk of infection with COVID-19?

Are smokers at greater risk of contracting COVID-19?

According to the World Health Organization, smokers may be more susceptible to the virus, but not because of the effects of smoking on the body. Smokers are probably more sensitive because smoking puts something in their mouths that can be contaminated by their hands. This hand-to-hand movement increases the chance of transmission.

In addition, many people often smoke in social situations, which can lead to an increased risk of transmission if shared. Among those who smoke medical marijuana, this social aspect usually disappears, so the risk of transmission is lower than among those who smoke cigarettes or recreational marijuana.

How can smoking affect COVID-19?

Because smoking medical marijuana increases the risk of respiratory infections and complications, it can have more serious consequences if someone contracts the virus. Smoking cannabis can damage the lungs, and since COVID-19 is a lung infection, it can lead to more serious symptoms. Some studies also suggest that THC may alter the effectiveness of the immune system, making it more difficult to fight off a COVID-19 infection.

However, other studies have shown conflicting results regarding cannabis and immunosuppression. Other studies have also shown that the use of CBD can actually reduce complications and severe symptoms in people with COVID-19. However, this information is not conclusive and further research is needed to determine the accuracy of the results. The study also does not specify whether CBD was ingested while smoking.

Alternative methods for the determination of MMJ

Using medical marijuana by smoking it may be the first choice for some patients. But because of the impact it can have on lung health, and in light of the COVID-19 pandemic, some may want to change the way they take MMJ. The good news is that there are many dosage methods for people who need medical marijuana for chronic illnesses.

The first alternative, which is closest to smoking, is vaping. The process is similar, but when you use a vaporizer, you inhale vapor instead of smoke. However, it is not clear that vaping is a healthy alternative to smoking in this case.

image by Sarah Takforian on Unsplash : Medical marijuana has many dosage methods, including edible gum.

Methods that do not require inhalation and may be good options for those who want to change their dosing method include ingesting MMJ, topical application, or oils. Medical marijuana edibles can be ingested through various edibles, such as jelly beans or baked goods. Topical marijuana delivers the dose by applying it to the skin, and the oils are ingested by placing the appropriate dose under the tongue until it dissolves in the mouth.

Each method implies a different waiting period to feel its effect. For example, someone who smokes medical marijuana will likely feel the effects within minutes of ingestion, while an edible dose can take up to two hours.

During the COVID-19 pandemic, many people will want to do everything in their power to give their health a chance to fully recover if they contract the virus. For medical marijuana users, this means continuing their treatment and choosing a different dosage method if they are concerned about the risks of smoking.

Featured image by Elsa Olofsson on Unsplash

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