C’mon people. This study says ‘vulnerable’ cannabis users are continuing risky behaviour

International survey shows users still inhaling instead of taking more precautions during the pandemic

There’s no shortage of COVID-19 news, as people around the world try to learn how to avoid spreading and contracting the infectious disease. So it’s somewhat surprising, if not unnerving, that some medical and recreational cannabis users have opted not to change their smoking habits to mitigate potential risks.

An international survey is asking respondents from 46 countries how COVID-19 has changed their access to cannabis, as well as their frequency, dose and method of use. Just 16 per cent of the 2,000-plus, self-identified cannabis users taking part in the anonymous study say they have changed how they consume marijuana.

The preliminary numbers are a big concern to Denise Vidot, an assistant professor at the University of Miami School of Nursing and Health Studies, who is leading a study based on the survey.

“Whether they are recreational or medical users, all cannabis users are a vulnerable population right now for different reasons,” Vidot says, according to News@TheU. “But the one thing they have in common is that the majority continue to smoke or vape.”

Vidot’s advice is clear: Smokers who contract coronavirus could possibly experience more severe symptoms and complications. Because COVID-19 attacks the lungs, cannabis users should quit inhaling when they smoke or vape cannabis.

Another thing that seems clear is that there should be absolutely no sharing of joints while COVID-19 continues to rage. Sharing joints is “a sure-fire way to spread the disease,” the statement notes.

Denise Vidot is an assistant professor at the University of Miami School of Nursing and Health Studies. / Photo: News@TheU

/ Photo: News@TheU

“In mouth-to-mouth contact, you’re literally sharing saliva, especially if you’re passing an electronic vaporizing device,” adds Vidot.

However, some people may respectfully disagree. Smoking and vaping of both nicotine and cannabis was deemed to be a risk factor included in the COVID-19 screening tool used by the University of California, San Francisco. However, more recently, experts seem to be walking back such pronouncements, with the U.S. Food and Drug Administration modifying its stance on COVID-19 and vaping.

“In mouth-to-mouth contact, you’re literally sharing saliva.” / Photo: iStock / Getty Images Plus

iStock / Getty Images Plus

The survey data also shows that cannabis users are very concerned about their supplies running out during the pandemic. A third of medicinal cannabis users who participated have no more than a two-week supply of cannabis on hand.

With anxiety and depression cited as the most common pre-existing chronic conditions among respondents who used cannabis, Vidot can only “imagine” how they might feel under current conditions.

She and fellow researchers are hoping to collect information from about 10,000 respondents, 18 or older, from every country in the world. The idea is to use the information gathered to help guide future public policy and education campaigns.


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