Marijuana Use And The Coronavirus Outbreak: Safety Guidelines From NORML

By The Fresh Toast's Brendan Bures, provided exclusively to Benzinga Cannabis.

Marijuana users should participate in online happy hour sessions and routinely clean their smoking devices, recommends NORML.

As Americans slowly adopt social distancing parameters into their daily life, some have developed creative ways to see friends and family without furthering the spread of the coronavirus. A common coping mechanism is virtual “happy hours,” where people gather in online video chatrooms to “grab a drink” together and catch up, just like they were visiting a local bar.

Now, national marijuana advocacy group NORML is recommending that marijuana smokers do the same. Though cannabis communities and advocacy groups have always thrived on the social element of marijuana consumption, this practice goes against social distancing recommendations from public officials.

“As long as cultures have consumed cannabis, the practice of sharing a joint among friends has been a common social practice,” NORML executive director Erik Altieri wrote in a blog post. “But given what we know about COVID-19 and its transmission, it would be mindful during this time to halt this behavior.”

“This means practicing social distancing as much as is feasibly possible, and also staying indoors to the largest extent you can — especially if you are among those who are most vulnerable, such as elderly medical cannabis patients,” Altieri added. “For the time being, as is being advised, you should avoid attending large gatherings, instead taking a serious look at the opportunities afforded to us by modern technology to communicate and host events virtually through online platforms.”

Photo by SharonMcCutcheon via Pixabay

The National Institutes of Health announced the novel coronavirus can live anywhere for up to hours and even days on uncleaned surfaces. As humans can contract the coronavirus through their mouth, nose, and eyes, routinely cleaning marijuana pipes, bongs, and other smoking devices is paramount during this time. NORML recommended using 90% Isopropyl alcohol as an “effective and affordable way” to clean up any lingering germs or pathogens on your smoking piece.

NORML also told marijuana consumers to continue buying from the legal market as much as possible at this time. Buying cannabis from the black market jeopardizes consumer health and risks spreading the coronavirus, as these goods are not regulated. They could also compromise your immune system, due to unwanted pesticides, mold, and other adulterants found in black market marijuana.

“This advice is especially pertinent for portable vaping devices, as unregulated products have been known to contain vitamin E and other dangerous additives that can harm the lungs,” said Altieri. “We also encourage everyone to remain vigilant of online misinformation (like any claims cannabis or CBD can help cure or protect against this virus) and to beware of potential scammers promoting similar claims.”

Photo courtesy of Getty Images

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