Cannabis Consumers Reach for Edibles in Response to COVID-19

News about COVID-19 feels all-consuming, ever-changing, and often contradictory. Every day we are bombarded with new details. How to reduce the spread of the disease; what symptoms to look out for; how to bolster your immune system; how to manage the stress of self-isolation. Go for a walk. Don’t go for a walk! Sometimes it seems like the anxiety and the misinformation are spreading as fast as the virus.

But here’s something you can feel sure of as you navigate the dizzying chaos. It doesn’t take a genius to figure out that smoking isn’t optimal when facing a disease that causes severe respiratory distress.

The public gets it. While the COVID-19 pandemic has accelerated sales of the entire cannabis sector, the effect has been particularly strong in edibles.

Marijuana Business Daily reported that, according to data from Seattle-based Headset, the market share for edibles in California, Colorado and Washington state’s adult-use markets all increased since March 13.

In Colorado, edible sales jumped 8 percent the week of March 13-20, hitting nearly 18 percent of adult use sales statewide. In California, after a similar surge, edibles accounted for 14.9 percent of all adult-use cannabis sales during the period.

Bustle reported that, according to consumer trend data they received from Weedmaps, orders from the first to the second week of March increased by 20 percent – with an 18 percent increase in orders for edibles, and a 21 percent decrease in orders for flower.

The article quotes Mary Pryor, founder of the cannabis activism site Cannaclusive, who said, “I love smoking weed the old-fashioned way, but I’ve completely shifted from being what you’d call being a traditional smoker right now to edibles, because I don’t want to take the risk.”

WHY CHOOSE EDIBLES

Consumers have long turned to smokable cannabis because it can provide quick relief and because they come to know different strains that provide different results. But smoking isn't the only way to achieve those effects. 1906 was launched four years ago with a mission to create targeted edible formulations that combine cannabis with effective plant medicines. With onset times of less than 20 minutes, the 1906 experiences provide consumers with the best features of smoking, without the negative consequences — something that is especially relevant during this global pandemic.

“After years in public health, I joined 1906 precisely for their commitment to serving consumers fast-acting, low-dose, non-smokable products,” said 1906 Chief of Policy and Health Innovations Jackie Cornell. “Cannabis is medicine but smoking contributes to adverse health outcomes; we knew this long before COVID-19. Now more than ever, every cannabis patient and consumer should consider exploring non-smokable options to preserve their pulmonary and respiratory health.”

COVID-19 AND SMOKING

While data is still fresh and research just beginning, a "New England Journal of Medicine" study published in February looked at more than 1,000 COVID-19 patients in China, and found that the current and former smokers among them were about 50 percent more likely than the never-smoking population to have a severe reaction and to need mechanical ventilation and intensive care.

“There’s not very much data at this point on COVID-19 in smokers, but we do know from reports from China, smokers seem to be over-represented in groups of people who have severe or critical COVID-19,” J. Taylor Hays, M.D. Director of the Nicotine Dependence center at Mayo Clinic in Rochester, Minnesota and Professor of Medicine, Mayo Clinic College of Medicine, told Forbes.

“There is a long history of smokers having more severe respiratory illness in general and this is for a few well-established reasons. They clear mucus less efficiently, the cilia which get infectious particles and secretions out of the lungs, work less efficiently. Smoking also causes inflammation in the airways, which is made worse with respiratory illnesses,” added Hays.

In a post for the Center for Tobacco Research Control & Education at University of California, San Francisco, director and professor of medicine Stanton Glantz explained it in simple terms: "when someone's lungs are exposed to flu or other infections, the adverse effects of smoking or vaping are much more serious than among people who do not smoke or vape.”

He cited a study from China published in the peer-reviewed "Chinese Medical Journal" in February that found that the odds of a COVID-19 case becoming more severe — even deadly — were 14 times higher among people who had a history of smoking compared to those who did not smoke.

He links to an even more recent study that concludes that while further research is needed, “smoking is most likely associated with the negative progression and adverse outcomes of COVID-19.”

Glantz points to an article in "Scientific American," "Smoking or Vaping May Increase the Risk of a Severe Coronavirus Infection," a story from CNN, "How smoking, vaping and drug use might increase risks from COVID-19," and a post from Dr. Nora Volkow, director of the National Institute on Drug Abuse, "COVID-19: Potential Implications for Individuals with Substance Use Disorders," which warns, “Because it attacks the lungs, the coronavirus that causes COVID-19 could be an especially serious threat to those who smoke tobacco or marijuana or who vape.”

CANNABIS WITHOUT SMOKING

For many cannabis consumers and patients, smoking has been the only option available to get much-needed relief. 1906 offers them non-smokable alternatives for consumption.

After entering the Colorado market with low- and controlled dose, fast-acting and delicious chocolate edibles, 1906 recently released Drops. Available in six thoughtful formulations, designed to aid energy, arousal, relaxation, sleep, focus, or a happy mood, these coated, easy-to-swallow, pressed tablets combine THC and CBD, plus super-effective adaptogens and herbs. The result of years of research, 1906 Drops move beneficial, functional cannabis treatments into the medicine cabinet.

Natasha Chamberlin, 1906 Director of Product Development, explains. “The 1906 Drops line was created to bridge the gap between our signature innovative edible experience and the big pharma world. Consumers can toss our small Drops tins right into their pocket or purse and have access to our unique plant medicines at any point during their day. We wanted to create something that wasn’t just a special treat (like our chocolate line), but rather an everyday use product.”

Because not everyone wants or is able to eat chocolate every day, Drops can become a part of your everyday life, replacing or supplementing traditional pharmaceuticals and supplements people consume on a regular basis. Consumers appreciate that Drops are allergen-, lactose-, gluten-, and calorie-free.

Like all 1906 low- and controlled-dose products, Drops activate in 20 minutes or less – making them the fastest-acting edibles on the market. And now is a great time to explore edibles as an alternative to smokables.

“People who quit for even a short time see an improvement in lung health quite quickly. For most smokers who don’t already have serious lung injury, they will see immediate improvements in their health, and less opportunity for severe diseases including COVID-19,” said Hays.

Make no mistake about it, we are in for a long haul, with the U.S. health systems not yet seeing the peak of COVID-19 infections, and our anxiety – both individual and collectively – rising as well. A recent poll of U.S. adults found that among regular cannabis users, nearly a third reported using more than typical during the past two weeks.

As people have known for hundreds of years, cannabis can help in trying times, but during this worldwide health pandemic, when lung health is so critical, consumers should be especially mindful of the implications of smoking.

“We are experiencing a global grieving process coupled with looming anxiety,” said Cornell. “Cannabis has a long track record for soothing anxiety. Right now, low-dose, fast-acting non-smokable cannabis can provide profound relief.”