Cannabis In the Age Of COVID-19: A Doctor Breaks It Down

This article was originally published on The Cannigma, and appears here with permission.

Should you stop smoking and try different methods for taking cannabis because of the coronavirus pandemic? Does cannabis affect your immune system? Can marijuana help relieve the stress and anxiety of isolation caused by COVID-19 public health measures?

“We haven’t found evidence either way,” Dr. Roni Sharon says on The Cannabis Enigma Podcast about whether cannabis can boost the immune system.

“If [cannabis] is relieving your stress or anxiety or treating chronic pain and that makes you stronger,” Dr. Sharon adds, “that’s a big immune system booster. We know that stress reduces your immune system and we know that, of course, sleep reduces your immune system.”

COVID-19 is still very new and there’s a lot we don’t know about it, particularly how smoking can affect the virus’s damage to your lungs. So while there’s no immediate reason to stop smoking medical cannabis, particularly if you’re not suffering from a lung illness, it’s also not a bad time to try different delivery methods like oil tinctures, Dr. Sharon says. 

And what about relieving COVID-19 related stress and anxiety, be it from worrying about the future or just being isolated at home? 

“Human isolation is human isolation, and if marijuana can help you relieve that stress, relieve that anxiety, and it’s legal to do so in the state or in the country you’re in, I highly encourage it,” Dr. Sharon says.

Just make sure not to share joints or vaporizers, be careful about handling cannabis packaging that others have touched, and “just like everything else, it should be done responsibly.”

Edited and mixed by Michael Schaeffer Omer-Man. Produced by Michael Schaeffer Omer-Man and Elana Goldberg. Music by Desca. 

Full Transcript:

Michael Schaeffer Omer-Man: Hi,  Dr. Sharon. It’s Mike. 

Dr. Roni Sharon: Hey. Good afternoon. 

Michael: So thanks for taking the time. I wanted to talk to you today about, well, what else would we be talking to you about? The Coronavirus COVID-19. But specifically I wanted to talk to you about questions that we’re hearing from  medical cannabis patients and how this might impact their treatment and their lives a little bit.

Dr. Sharon: Sure. It sounds good. 

Michael: So I think the most obvious question, and it’s one of the first questions that popped into my mind is: is smoking a good idea right now? Is smoking cannabis a good idea right now? If it’s your treatment, especially, we know that it’s among the more efficient, effective delivery methods, but we also know that the COVID-19 targets the lungs and that chronic smokers have been badly affected.

Dr. Sharon: Yes. So smoking does seem to be the most effective way to take marijuana for a variety of medical conditions. Given that, we encourage it for patients who do not have a history of respiratory disease, whether it’s asthma, bronchitis, COPD, and whenever it’s mixed with tobacco, it’s always a bad idea.

That being said. COVID-19 is new and it’s different from other corona viruses and other diseases that we have. It has its similarities and differences. So I cannot say for sure that smoking increases risk or decreases risk if it significantly helps your disease. I would continue it assuming that you don’t have other respiratory conditions, but there are other, so many ways of taking marijuana.

Just in New York, we can take it as a pill, patch, capsule, cream, tablets, spray, powder, lozenge, oil tincture. So it is perhaps a good opportunity to trial and error and try a different formulation or a different way of taking it, especially if you do have any respiratory problems. 

Michael: And I’m assuming that that advice before — that you can probably continue to do it, that’s for people who are feeling healthy still. 

Dr. Sharon: For people without any respiratory conditions, a patient sitting across from me, I do say that they can continue smoking it or taking it through a vaporizer, despite coronavirus. I mean, we deal with the flu and we deal with the common colds and viruses all the time.

Coronavirus appears to have differences, but there’s not much difference. So I still do encourage people to take it in a way that it most affects them positively. 

Michael: And of the other methods that you mentioned, is there something that you’ve found… that you believe is among the better options, or that your patients have told you they find is better for them?

Dr. Sharon: So my preferred way of giving it is generally through inhalation because of absorption and efficacy. My second favorite, and what I find to be …

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