Cannabis & Corona

Can weed fight disease?

Like every other sector of our society, the coronavirus has hit the cannabis world. Experts say the virus will continue to hit it—causing cancellations or postponements of cannabis festivals and events in the coming weeks and months.

Canna-tourism could suffer as people travel less and avoid crowds. Industry observers do not expect overall consumption and demand will be greatly impacted, but those who smoke joints and use pipes would be smart not to share them. Some may choose to have their weed delivered rather than buy it in person.

It’s a good thing Americans are not dependent on China for cannabis, as they are for so many other products. Some vape hardware comes from China and virus scares have impacted supplies.

New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio announced recently at a press conference that people who smoke or vape can become more vulnerable to severe illness.

“If you are a smoker or a vaper this is a very good time to stop that habit and we will help you,” de Blasio said.

To get a sense of what is happening locally, I called Eli Melrod, the CEO of Solful, a Sebastopol-based dispensary.

“Consumers are stocking up and are preparing to hunker down,” he told me. “Instead of buying one or two items, they’re buying 10 to 12 items so they have a month’s supply, rather than a week’s supply.”

Melrod urges employees to wash their hands frequently and not touch their faces. With increased demand, the dispensary is aiming to increase supply.

“We’re reaching out to manufacturers and to growers,” Melrod said. “We don’t want to run out of the medicine that people need. The store is up and running as usual and we hope to see our regular customers. They’re all welcome.”

Over the last two weeks, I have continued smoking joints—by myself—and eating gummies. I attended a cannabis event with a friend who offered me the joint he was smoking. It seemed wise to decline. I’m not sorry I did. Precaution is the watchword for now and for the immediate future.

Local cannabis maven, Mitcho Thompson, advises, “Now is the time to have a stash.”

Jonah Raskin is the author of “Dark Day, Dark Night: a Marijuana Murder Mystery.”

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