April 28, 2020

Can Smoking Marijuana Increase Your Chances of Getting the Coronavirus?

The short answer from a pulmonologist

man smoking marijuana

Q: Can smoking marijuana increase your chances of getting the coronavirus?

A: This is a very good question because, in the United States, we seem to have a higher rate of COVID-19 hospitalizations among people who are under the age of 50 — much higher compared with other countries. One of the possible reasons could be that this country has higher rates of vaping and marijuana use. So, one hypothesis is that vaping or smoking cigarettes or marijuana could be one of the factors that put young people at risk of acquiring this infection.

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The body is smart enough to protect us from infections that are in the air. But vaping and smoking marijuana can suppress our natural defense systems. So, it is very possible that smoking marijuana could increase someone’s chances of getting infections such as COVID-19.

A lot of marijuana-derived vaping products are often modified at home to make them more intense. Because the ingredients are hard to track, this can be dangerous. We do know that smoking marijuana itself, like in a joint, can increase the risk of certain lung infections, especially fungal infections.

In general, the rule of thumb is that the lungs really need to breathe clean air. If you are inhaling a substance that contains THC or CBD for a supposed medical treatment, consider a more conventional option that doesn’t affect the lungs.

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— Pulmonologist Humberto Choi, MD.

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