If there were ever a moment to celebrate 4/20 a.k.a. international “Weed Day,” you’d think it would be now. Escapism is at an all-time high (no pun intended), with those in self-isolation increasingly reaching for substances to help get through the day.

In a recent poll commissioned by the Canadian Centre on Substance Use and Addiction (CCSA),  25 percent of Canadians aged 35 to 54 and 21 percent of Canadians aged 18 to 34 say they have increased the amount of alcohol they drink while spending more time at home during the COVID-19 pandemic.

Nine in ten Canadians, or 90 percent, who reported staying home more because of coronavirus say that their cannabis consumption has stayed the same, while six percent report it has increased.

A note to everyone lighting up: You might want to consider stashing the rolling papers for now. In a statement to The Toronto Star, a spokesperson for the Health Ministry said that “cutting down on smoking of any form, including cannabis, could help in the prevention and treatment of COVID-19,” given that COVID-19 is a respiratory virus. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevent (CDC) in the U.S. also recently released a statement equating smoking with a higher risk of severe illness if you contract COVID-19.

Dr. Revital Wanono, M.D., a respirologist with Trillium Health Partners in Mississauga, Ontario, explains: “We have many different parts of our immune system, including a very important local immune system in the lungs. When you smoke, you cause inflammation in the airways and then bacteria and viruses can more easily get into the tissue. When there is inflammation, there are also cilia, little hairs that help bring the phlegm up. Often, bacteria and viruses get stuck in this mucus. Normal lungs will bring them up, which is why when you’re sick, you’ll cough and bring up the phlegm. Smoking interferes with that, so because you’re impairing the lungs’ local immunity, more viruses and bacteria can affect your lungs.”

While there have been no clinical trials completed given the swiftness of the pandemic’s onset, the retroactive data coming out of China showed that odds of disease progression and death were 14 times higher in smokers than non-smokers of all ages. “Next to age, smoking was the second highest risk factor,” says Wanono, with the caveat that smokers in China tended to be male (and men typically have a higher mortality rate than women).

“Knowing what we know about the mechanism of the local immunity and how it gets damaged by smoke – whether that’s vape, marijuana or cigarettes – and knowing what we know generally about the risk of lung disease within smokers, it would make sense that if you are a smoker and you contract COVID-19, instead of having mild symptoms, you could have the severe symptoms  and these are the ones we care about. These are the people that end up in hospital, on ventilators and life support.”

All this to say – it’s better to play it safe this year. If you want to use cannabis, here are seven edible, topical and otherwise non-smokable forms of cannabis you can enjoy.

Houseplant Sativa Softgels

Made with non-GMO, coconut-derived MCT oil, this high-THC content capsule is precisely measured and can be taken with your morning vitamins – if you roll like that. ca.tokyosmoke.com

Aurora Drift Sea Salt Caramel Milk Chocolate Squares

These decadent chocolate squares are infused with 2mg of Sativa-dominant THC, meaning they’ll have you primed for your favourite Instagram Live workout class. friendlystranger.com

Calyx Calm Spray

For a CBD-only approach to calming anxiety, spritz this minty spray under your tongue before reading the news. calyxwellness.co

San Rafael ’71 Blaspberry Soft Chews

Made with full-spectrum concentrate, these Indica dominant 2mg gummies are ideal for the Netflix and chill portion of the evening. sanrafael71.ca

Chowie Wowie 1 to 1 Milk Chocolate Bars

These bars, comprised of 10mg THC and 10mg CBD, can be split in half and with your roommate or partner. ca.tokyosmoke.com

Blissed Breathe Oil

This full-spectrum oil contains 26mg/ml of CBD for 1mg/ml of THC, meaning that it’s exceptionally chill. osc.ca

Apothecanna by 48North Body Cream

For a soothing body high, apply this soothing moisturizer – loaded with plant extracts like arnica, peppermint and a balanced amount of THC and CBD – before bedtime. friendlystranger.com


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