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By the ounce  

Passing on the puff, puff

Maybe it’s best right now to follow former president Bill Clinton’s lead and not inhale.

The novel coronavirus is causing all kinds of major life changes:

  • Social distancing
  • Job loss
  • How people are consuming cannabis.

Avid smokers are starting to pass on the puff, puff as the pandemic drags on.

So far Health Canada has been silent on the potential health impacts of cannabis and COVID-19.

Messaging from the BC Cannabis Store has been timid, suggesting that “if you’re sick – skip the smoke.”

“It has been reported that COVID-19 causes infections in the nose, throat, and lungs,” said the BCCS on its website. “Since we know that over time, smoking cannabis can impact your lung health, it may be best to take a break from smoking or vaping.”

However, the provincial retailer is not suggesting a total ban on smoking. Rather, suggesting people play it safe by not sharing joints, vapes and bongs.

The National Institute on Drug Abuse based in the U.S. has taken a firmer position.

“Because it attacks the lungs, the coronavirus that causes COVID-19 could be an especially serious threat to those who smoke tobacco or marijuana or who vape,” said the organization in a recent announcement.

The institute admitted very little is known right now about COVID-19.

But, it said, it’s fair to make assumptions based on past experience that people who smoke and vape cannabis could find themselves at increased risk of the virus and its more serious complications.

That point of view is echoed by pulmonologist Dr. Albert Rizzo, chief medical officer for the American Lung Association. He told CNN the anecdotal evidence should be enough to cause cannabis users to consider the way they partake.  

"What happens to your airways when you smoke cannabis is that it causes some degree of inflammation, very similar to bronchitis, very similar to the type of inflammation that cigarette smoking can cause.

"Now, you have some airway inflammation and you get an infection on top of it. So, yes, your chance of getting more complications is there."

That’s a bit of a buzz kill to the roughly five million Canadians who have reported to be partaking, according to Statistics Canada.

Cannabis sales have been hitting record levels as people stock up, particularly with larger formats of bud.

For those looking for options other than smoking, several different types of drinks have become available, including fizzy drinks and teas. A variety of chocolates and gummies have also received a relatively positive reception from consumers.

Oils, sprays and gel capsules are other smoke-free options.

Retailers say they’ve seen an increased demand in these types of ingestible formats.

Unity Marguerite, who’s in charge of procurement at the Village Bloomery cannabis retail store in Vancouver, said popular products have shifted.

“Our gel caps, tinctures and edibles are more popular. Many people live in apartments and smoking is not an option. As well as we’re aware this is a respiratory virus, so people are making different choices around their consumption,” she said.

“With COVID-19 affecting people’s respiratory systems and income, making your own edible and topical products can benefit your lungs and budget.”

Let me know whether COVID-19 has changed the way you’ve been partaking.

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About the Author

David Wylie is publisher of the oz. — a cannabis newsletter that covers the growing legal weed industry from the Okanagan Valley.

He has been a journalist for nearly two decades, working in newsrooms all over Canada.  

David is active as okanaganz on Instagram, Twitter, Facebook and Reddit. Subscribe to the email newsletter at okanaganz.com.

An ounce of info goes a long way.



The views expressed are strictly those of the author and not necessarily those of Castanet. Castanet does not warrant the contents.

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