Marijuana and the Coronavirus

By David G. Evans, Esq.

The Centers for Disease Control states that the people at higher risk of getting very sick or dying from this illness include: [i]

Older adults and people who have serious chronic medical conditions like:
1. Heart disease
2. Diabetes
3, Lung disease

This means that if your immune system is impaired or you have a lung problem you are very vulnerable. What does the science say about marijuana use and impaired immune function or lung disease?

A comprehensive study of the dangers of marijuana smoke by the Hazard Assessment Branch of the California Environmental Protection Agency concluded in part that:

“There is evidence that marijuana smoke is genotoxic, immunosuppressive, and can alter endocrine function. Studies of 9-THC and other cannabinoids provide evidence for alterations of multiple cell signaling pathways, in endocrine function, and suppression of the innate and adaptive immune response. Prolonged exposures to marijuana smoke in animals and humans cause proliferative and inflammatory lesions in the lung.” [ii]

One of the earliest findings in marijuana research was the effect on various immune functions. Cellular immunity is impaired, pulmonary immunity is impaired, and impaired ability to fight infection is now documented in humans. This impairment leaves the patient unable to fight certain infections and fatal diseases. The potential for these complications exists in all forms of administration of marijuana. [iii]

Contaminants of marijuana smoke are known to include bacteria and fungi. Those at particular risk for the development of infection when these substances are inhaled are people with impaired immunity. [iv]

A study done at the University of California, Davis discovered that medical marijuana from 20 dispensaries contained multiple fungal and bacterial contaminants that were highly toxic and can cause serious and sometimes fatal infections among marijuana users. Smoking, vaping or inhaling aerosolized marijuana is a serious health risk, especially for people with chronic conditions or other conditions requiring immunosuppressing therapies. The study revealed a multitude of toxic microorganisms, many of which are known causes of serious lung infections, including Cryptococcus, Mucor, and Aspergillus fungi and Escherichia coli, Klebsiella pneumoniae and Acinetobacter baumannii bacteria. [v]

Can marijuana use open your body up to a virus?

A study from Harvard Medical School showed that marijuana use opens the door for the virus that causes Kaposi’s Sarcoma. This is a serious life-threatening problem for people with HIV infection. [vi]

[i] https://www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-ncov/specific-groups/high-risk-complications.html

[ii] Evidence on the Carcinogenicity of Marijuana Smoke, August 2009, Reproductive and Cancer Hazard Assessment Branch Office of Environmental Health Hazard Assessment, California

https://oehha.ca.gov/media/downloads/proposition-65/chemicals/finalmjsmokehid.pdf

 

[iii] Cabral & Vasquez, Delta-9-Tetrahydrocannabinol suppresses macrophage extrinsic anti-herpes virus activity, Cannabis: Physiopathology, Epidemiology, Detection pp. 137-153 (CRC Press 1993); “Immunological Changes Associated with Prolonged Marijuana Smoking” -American College of Allergy, Asthma and Immunology, 17 November 2004; “Respiratory and Immunologic Consequences of Marijuana Smoking”- Journal of Clinical Pharmacology, 2002; 42:71S-81S; Wu et al., Pulmonary hazards of smoking marijuana as compared with tobacco, NEJM, 1988:318:347-351.

[iv] Fleisher, Winawer & Zauber, Aspergillosis and marijuana, Annals of Internal Medicine 1991:115:578-579; Ramirez, Acute pulmonary histoplasmosis: newly recognized hazard of marijuana plant hunters, American Journal of Medicine 1990:88:5-60N-5-62N; Taylor et al., Salmonellosis associated with marijuana: a multi state outbreak traced by plasmid fingerprinting, NEJM 1982:306:1249-1254.

[v] UC Davis. Clinical Microbiology and Infection, titled, “A microbiome assessment of medical marijuana.” In press. http://www.ucdmc.ucdavis.edu/publish/news/newsroom/11791. March 13, 2018

[vi] “Marijuana Component Opens The Door For Virus That Causes Kaposi’s Sarcoma” -Science Daily, 2 August 2007

Reprinted with permission by David G. Evans, Esq., who is Senior Counsel for the Cannabis Industry Victims Educating Litigators (CIVEL). CIVEL educates lawyers on how to make the marijuana industry accountable to their many victims. Mr. Evans was a plaintiff’s litigator in personal injury and employment law cases. He is the author of Employee Medical Leave, Benefits and Disabilities Law §§ 1:1 et seq. (2019 ed.), and Drug Testing Law, Technology and Practice §§ 1:1 et seq. published by Thomson Reuters. Attorneys who desire more information can contact Mr. Evans at [email protected]. The CIVEL website is: www.civel.org