We all owe it to ourselves and the people in our life to take every reasonable precaution during the coronavirus epidemic. One big thing cannabis users can do for their health right now is to avoid smoking and vaping, and instead favor cannabis products that don’t involve inhaling irritants into your lungs.

Dr. Steffanie Strathdee, an infectious disease epidemiologist, recently told Leaflythat smoking is not advisable while a virus that causes respiratory infection is being passed like wildfire around the country.

“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,” she said.

Dr. Strathdee says that smoking can cause a reduction in your lungs’ cilia, a part of its cells which helps to clear out irritants like dirt, bacteria, viral particles, and mucus so you can breathe comfortably. Smoking can burn out your cilia, leaving you with much lower defenses to a respiratory disease like COVID-19. 

“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,” she said.

The same goes for vaping, according to Dr. Laura Crotty Alexander, a pulmonary critical care physician who has studied the effects of e-cigarettes on the lungs. “It would be wise for all of us to try to keep our lungs as healthy as possible, in anticipation of being infected with SARS-CoV-2 and potentially developing COVID-19,” she said.

If you have a stash of flower you’re afraid will go bad before the pandemic dies down, you could either bake it into an edible or just make a big batch of oil or butter you can add to a dish every time you want to give it an extra kick.

If edibles aren’t your bag, you can also of course stay healthy and enjoy your recreational use of cannabis in a whole lot of other forms including tinctures, patches, and oils.

Photo via Flickr/Lilach Daniel