For millions of patients, the use of cannabis may be necessary during the COVID-19 pandemic for either acute or chronic medical problems. Although THC and CBD have palliative and immunomodulatory effects, neither have been shown to prevent, treat, or exacerbate COVID-19. However, the administration of cannabinoids during the global COVID-19 pandemic requires caution. While the lack of extensive research prevents the organization from making definitive conclusions, the most current information supports the following:
- Smoking and vaping cannabis (or any substance) can damage protective mechanisms of the airway and lungs that keep the virus that causes COVID-19 from establishing infection.
- Vaping products with additives, solvents, or flavoring (e.g., vitamin E acetate, propylene glycol [PG], vegetable glycerin [VG], polyethylene glycol [PEG]) may have direct toxicity on both the lungs and the immune system.
- Sharing of joints, pipes, vape pens, or other consumption devices increases risk for transmission of the COVID-19 virus, as does the frequent hand-to-mouth motions required by smoking and vaping.
- There is no evidence that it is safe to vape during the COVID-19 pandemic.
In light of the increased risks posed by smoking and vaping, Doctors for Cannabis Regulation (DFCR) strongly advises patients to consider oral consumption or topical application of cannabis during the COVID-19 pandemic. These delivery methods are much safer than smoking or vaping at this time. Oral consumption potency, dosage, and onset time may vary widely. We encourage medical cannabis patients to consult with a health professional prior to trying new methods and to “start low and go slow” with oral cannabis products, such as edibles and tinctures. Patients with a consistent cannabinoid regimen who are otherwise healthy are not advised to make extreme changes.
According to the Center for Disease Control (CDC), the best way to prevent illness is to avoid being exposed to the virus. To protect yourself from COVID-19 transmission, everyone should:
- Practice social distancing and avoid close contact.
- Clean your hands often with soap and water for at least 20 seconds.
- Cover your nose and mouth with a cloth when others are around, particularly in public settings where social distancing is difficult to maintain.
- Clean and disinfect frequently touched surfaces daily.