Any substance that is combusted and then inhaled exposes the airways and the lungs to particles and toxins that lead to some degree of airway inflammation, similar to inflammation that may be seen in those with chronic asthma or COPD. Those two patient groups have been shown to have an increased risk of complications from COVID-19, so it would suggest to me that cannabis smokers, like cigarette smokers, may have the potential for more complications if they get infected.
The findings highlighted that clinicians must be aware of the high prevalence of cannabis withdrawal syndrome to counsel patients and support those reducing their use of the substance.
The precarious intersection of the COVID-19 national health emergency and the concurrent epidemic of drug overdose deaths is outlined in the Annals of Internal Medicine this week by Dr. Nora D. Volkow, director of the National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA), part of the National Institutes of Health. Dr. Volkow discusses how the serious health risks of COVID-19 pose unique challenges to people who smoke or vape, are already struggling with substance use disorders (SUD), or are in recovery from addiction.
From a public health standpoint, why is pot deemed an essential business during the COVID-19 pandemic?
After all, there is still much we don’t know about the new coronavirus. The virus causing COVID-19 attacks the lungs, which could present a serious threat to individuals who smoke marijuana. And we do know that marijuana smoke and vaping open the lungs up to increased respiratory infections.
The the Drug Enforcement Administration and the Department of Justice announced on Friday early action to further expand opportunities for scientific and medical research on marijuana in the United States.