April 20, sometimes called Weed Day, is an annual celebration of marijuana. Here’s where it comes from
For cannabis enthusiasts, 4/20 (or April 20) is revered as a major holiday. But is it wise to celebrate by lighting up as a global pandemic virus attacks lung function?
Heady Vermont, a cannabis culture advocacy and news hub, answers five questions about cannabis during COVID-19.
Is it safe to smoke marijuana during the pandemic?
A variety of reports have suggested smoking, including marijuana, puts lungs at risk for complications with COVID-19, the official name of the disease related to the coronavirus that first started to affect people at the end of 2019. Symptoms can include fever, cough and breathing trouble. Most develop only mild symptoms. But some people, usually those with other medical complications, develop more severe symptoms, including pneumonia, which can be fatal.
While Heady Vermont’s expertise lies in areas outside the health care field, Kathy Blume, Heady’s Communications Director, said on a personal level, “anything that adds particulate matter to the lungs at a time when a disease that threatens you is unusually impactful, people would probably be better off vaping” or using something that doesn’t combust such as a tincture, edibles or patches.
She advised airing on the side of caution.
What alternative methods of cannabis use, might one try?
Blume said we are in the “middle of a golden era for cannabis consumption.”
“There are plenty of ways to go about enjoying yourself without rolling a joint,” she said.
One way is through vaping. She said you could use flower that you might have at home.
Another way is to cook with it. She said it is fat soluble, so you can sauté it in butter or oil to get a cannabis infusion for your savory dishes. Or, you can create a butter for baking recipes, such as the classic brownies, by cooking it for a few hours or using “a magic butter machine which is less smelly,” she said.
She said there are also topicals, tinctures and patches.
Are people using more during the pandemic?
Blume says she doesn’t have any direct evidence about whether people are using more now but that she can only assume “if people are stuck at home while they are stressed out, it’s a really great way of responding to that.”
Blume has found personally when she is bearing too large of an emotional load, she needs to process that emotion before turning to cannabis because it can be too intense. As a result, she is partaking a little less. She said for some it is a “great easer of stress, great distraction and helps folks sleep,” and that she “would be surprised if most people were consuming less.”
Are CBD products still available locally?
Most cannabis-related business store fronts, just like those of other industries, have shutdown during the pandemic. However, Blume knew of a few retailers continuing to offer curbside pick up including Emeraldrose GROWS in Bristol and Green Mountain Hemp Company in Burlington and St. Albans.
Cannabis-related products and businesses have been hit hard during the pandemic. Blume said the businesses are ineligible for any sort of small business loans from the federal government during this time when owners are needing an infusion of cash. And, stores are at risk of being burglarized. Green Leaf Central’s Burlington store was broken into April 12.
How are those in need of medical marijuana able to get product?
Medical marijuana dispensaries have been designated “essential businesses” and have been providing delivery, curbside pick up, phone-in and email orders, depending upon the method which works best for the outfit.
While the product is available, more customers have found themselves financially challenged in the current fiscal climate and have not been able to afford their regular dosage.
“Folks might not be able to get or afford medical cannabis at all or be able to afford it in the quantity that they need.” Blume also said there are also some who feel the quality of the dispensaries’ product is not up to their standards.
The Vermont Cannabis Nurses Association is taking donations of product to distribute to medical users for free.
“They’re trying to make as much cannabis available to as many people who need it as they can,” Blume said.
Celebrating 4/20 in 2020 may be different than other years, but Blume said cannabis users and growers have adapted to limitations in the past and they are equipped to be collaborative and creative. Heady Vermont is hosting a webinar celebration at 3 p.m. before a 4 p.m. online smoke session and cannabis meal hosted by Zenbarn and Magic Mann.
Contact April Barton at email@example.com or 802-660-1854. Follow her on Twitter @aprildbarton.
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