Cannabis and coronavirus: Here’s what you need to know

Published on April 20, 2020 · Last updated September 23, 2022
Take a break from puff, puff, pass. Bogart away. (Leafly)

This story was updated on April 20, 2020

The global concern over the novel coronavirus known as COVID-19 has many people taking precautions against contracting the virus. It’s also raising a lot of questions about weed, smoking, edibles, THC, CBD, and your health during this difficult time.

We’ll continue to update this page as we learn more information. Here’s what we know about cannabis and COVID-19.

Breaking news on marijuana and coronavirus

The coronavirus has disrupted cannabis commerce across North America, triggering runs on stores, closures, and the adoption of curbside pickup and delivery ordering. SARS-CoV-2 is canceling most 420 events, and changing personal behavior away from sharing joints and pipes.

The latest as of April 20, 2020:

How are we doing?

Better, thanks to state-mandated stay-at-home orders. On April 20, America’s coronavirus death toll surpassed 40,000, although the outbreak shows signs of leveling off after nearly 40 straight days of growth. Check out the United States’s trajectory on the April 20 Financial Times chart: Financial Times COVID-19 daily death toll tracker has become one of the essential tools to see where each nation is in its fight against the pandemic.

The National Governors Association has a roundup of actions taken in each state, updated daily. The most reliable information sources right now are state health agencies in Washington, New York, and California, which are on the leading edge of the outbreak and mitigation strategies.

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COVID-19 health and safety orders

  • Stock up for at least a 30-day interruption in cannabis supplies, and also to limit trips to stores.
  • Why all the hand washing? You’re not just washing COVID-19 down the drain. Soap actually kills the virus. How? It’s all about soap’s molecular structure. See this explainer from Vox: How soap absolutely annihilates the coronavirus.
  • Stop sharing joints, blunts, and bongs. The puff-and-pass customs surrounding cannabis are among the greatest pleasures of the plant. But passing around a joint is is a good way to spread any virus, including COVID-19. For now, stick to your own supply.
  • Practice social distancing and stay at home. Everyone in North America should now be fully into a social distancing regimen. Many cities and states now operate under stay-at-home advisories or orders. Work from home if you can. Reduce, limit, or eliminate trips outside the house. Strategize to make one one trip to the grocery store per week. Keep 6 feet of distance between yourself and others. Cancel and reschedule all events. Weddings, birthday parties, card nights: Nope. Done. Help people in high-risk categories. A weekly trip to the grocery store could be a life-or-death decision for them. If you’re in a low-risk demographic, offer to pick up their items the next time you make a run.
  • Worried you’re showing symptoms? Use this Coronavirus Assessment Tool developed by Providence Health and Microsoft.

Can cannabis or CBD prevent or cure COVID-19?

No. Just flat-out no.

Given the general hype around CBD, we’re already hearing outlandish claims about its effect on coronavirus, most likely spread via social media. These claims are not true. There is no solid research on CBD and coronavirus. Or cannabis and coronavirus.

Dispensary news amid COVID-19

Are stores and dispensaries open during COVID-19?

Most states have designated medical marijuana dispensaries as essential parts of the health care system, and so have remained open. Some states have shut down adult-use sales while allowing medical sales. Others allow only delivery or curbside pickup.

Openings, closings, and re-openings

  • What’s open today: Use ‘open now‘ filters on Leafly’s dispensary finder to see when dispensaries are open during the COVID-19 era. Check it to see what’s up in your state.
  • How to use curbside pickup: We also have a guide to curbside pickup, where it’s happening, and how it works.
  • And here’s how to use legal cannabis delivery services.

Buying, using, and selling cannabis amid COVID-19

Buying cannabis – best practices right now

  • Place your order online.Leafly Pickup is available at hundreds of stores nationwide. Limit time spent around strangers to as little as possible. Make large enough orders to have a month’s supply, if possible. Here’s how long weed is good for.
  • Use curbside pickup or delivery.Leafly’s guide to curbside pickup just went live. As of March 25, 2020, curbside pickup is mandatory in Colorado; delivery is mandatory in Nevada. Expect that to spread to other states soon.

Is it safe to consume cannabis right now?

In general, yes.

Dr. Junella Chin, a New York-based physician, answered many of the most pressing questions about cannabis use and COVID-19 in this Leafly article: Are cannabis users more at risk for COVID-19?

During this period of social isolation and stay-at-home orders, it’s critically important to keep yourself physically and mentally healthy. If your wellness regimen includes cannabis, and you show no COVID-19 symptoms, keep on keeping on.

Here are some answers to questions we’re hearing a lot right now:

Are bong condoms really a thing?

Absolutely! Get yourself one of these fun devices. One of our in-house experts suggests the $9.99 silicone MouthPeace from Mooselabs, which uses activated carbon filters. Jay the Cannabis Explorer reviews it in the video below:

Another suggestion: Pax Era mouthpiece covers can be had for $4.30 a pop from Delta 3D Studios. Use an X-Acto knife to cut a hole in the closed end and you’ve got yourself a personal lip caddy.

Note: Most viral transmission happens via the hands, so while you’re being so clever with your lips you should watch your fingers, which are holding a bong or vape that many others have just recently held as well. Just saying.

Be aware of COVID-19 symptoms

What to do if you suspect you have COVID-19: Consult this Washington State DOH advisory, which contains action items.

Don’t jam up the emergency room if it’s just a common cold, but get yourself tested if you fit the criteria for COVID-19 symptoms. Those include:

  • Fever over 101
  • Dry cough
  • Shortness of breath
  • Have been in contact with a COVID-19 patient, or traveled recently to an area with ongoing spread.

Note: The definition of “area with ongoing spread” changes practically by the hour, and this item on the symptom list is becoming less important as the virus is recognized as extant in local communities.

Check yourself with this flow chart

Illustrator Wendy MacNaughton teamed up with UCSD infectious disease expert Eliah Aranoff-Spencer to create this updated guide, published on Medium.

Have a self-quarantine plan

At this point we’re talking about a spectrum, from choosing a work-at-home option (if you’re fortunate enough to have that choice) to a full-on home quarantine. The CDC has a page of recommendations for those who stay home with a suspected case of COVID-19.

What if you’ve been in close contact with someone with COVID-19? Stay inside and closely monitor yourself for 14 days.

“Someone in my house has it. What now?” Viral load matters. That means the fewer viral droplets that enter your system, the milder the severity of your case may be. So if a member of your household contracts the virus, it’s imperative that they separate from others in a quarantine room.

Is it safe to sell cannabis amid COVID-19?

Cannabis business operators must consult their county public health guidance, as well as state, federal and World Health Organization guidance, to ensure sanitary operations.

Sanitation measures include paid sick leave for ill workers, staying home with a fever, use of gloves, hand-washing, covering coughs and sneezes, physical distancing of staff and patrons, heightened cleaning and disinfecting, separate money handlers, and much more.

Why are we doing this? Isn’t everyone eventually going to get it?

The point isn’t to seal up the virus in a jar, or halt it at our borders. That moment has passed. What we’re all working to do now is make sure the infections don’t all hit at once and overwhelm our limited medical supplies and hospital capacity.

If 100 people require a hospital’s Intensive Care Unit, and the ICU can only handle 15 at a time, 85 people may die needlessly. If the infections in those 100 people are spread out over many weeks and months, though, we can get most of them through this alive.

The Washington Post has one of the best visual explanations of why we’re all working to flatten the curve. And it seems to be working in places where it’s been in effect for a while, like Washington state.

The New York Times has mapped who’s staying home and who’s not:

COVID-19’s effect on cannabis product supplies

Because all legal cannabis products are produced within the state in which they’re sold, industry experts aren’t expecting a shortage of actual cannabis due to import slowdowns.

That’s not to say there won’t be shortages or supply interruptions in certain products. Most vape batteries and wholesale vape cartridges are manufactured in China. Those supply chains have already seen slowdowns and interruptions due to quarantines impacting the Chinese manufacturing sector.

The US imports about 30 million Chinese vape pens and cartridges every month. Most shipments stopped due to the annual Chinese New Year shutdown in mid-January and haven’t fully resumed due to the coronavirus.

Will COVID-19 impact 4/20 events?

The answer is yes. Organizers of 4/20 celebrations, which are now less than five weeks away, are already considering how a wider outbreak of COVID-19 could impact their events. Some have begun postponements or cancellations. We’re tracking major events and cancellations at The best 4/20 events of North America 2020.

One cannabis store manager told Leafly he was putting a food truck ordered for 4/20 on hold because of health concerns. 4/20 festivals were already changing and evolving due to the expansion of legalization. The coronavirus outbreak may further accelerate that change in ways that are hard to predict right now.

What about legalization campaigns?

Depending on how long the COVID-19 social distancing era lasts, we may see more cancellations of larger events, gatherings, and festivals moving into summer. Larger-scale shopping malls and commercial districts may see a downturn in pedestrian traffic. That may affect the ability of signature gatherers to bank enough names to qualify legalization initiatives by a given deadline.

Leafly’s Election 2020 page has a full rundown of all the state legalization campaigns currently aiming at the November 2020 ballot.

Cannabis and self-isolation

Start do-it-yourself projects, as well as enjoy some stoner entertainment to improve your mood.

DIY cannabis

Here are 5 reasons why it’s the perfect time to start growing cannabis.  Here’s how to germinate seeds and start an indoor garden.

Also, whip up some cannabutter to turn smokeables into edibles.

Stoner entertainment for self-isolation

You’re inside, you’re bored, we get it. Try these on for size:

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Leafly Staff
Leafly Staff
Leafly is the world’s largest cannabis information resource, empowering people in legal cannabis markets to learn about the right products for their lifestyle and wellness needs. Our team of cannabis professionals collectively share years of experience in all corners of the market, from growing and retail, to science and medicine, to data and technology.
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