Tips and tricks to cut down on germs while toking with friends

Published Mar 16, 2020 01:00 p.m. ET
iStock / KatarzynaBialasiewicz

We are in the thick of flu and cold season, which takes its toll on public health, but once you introduce a brand-new virus to the mix, things can get a whole lot worse and fast. Whether or not you believe the hype surrounding the new Coronavirus, which has been officially named COVID-19, this new threat is concerning to regular health practitioners, experts, and consumers, which is why this is the perfect time for us to touch on some of the steps that you can take to avoid the spread of any illness.

How do bacteria that cause illnesses like the Coronavirus spread?

There is quite a bit of hysteria circulating in regards to COVID-19, which has led to mass fear and panic among regular everyday people, but if there is anything that we do know about this particular virus, is that it spreads through water droplets that either settle on a surface or travel through the air when someone who is infected coughs or sneezes.

These tiny drops can travel up to 9 meters away thanks to the natural force that is expelled from the lungs, but for the most part, they settle on surfaces that are in the surrounding area. Since the droplets are invisible to the naked eye, it usually doesn’t take long for someone to touch one of these infected areas. Once they do, all it takes is a scratch of the eye, or direct contact with the mouth, which is something that we all do multiple times a day, for it to spread.

Now, this is how most colds and viruses move from one person to another, but it’s not the only way. Humans have plenty of typical practices that we use every day that can also pose a risk. Things like hugs, handshakes, kissing and sharing drinks, food, or any other consumable goods can also be hazardous, which is why so many people are taking precautions to avoid them.

How long do bacteria stay alive on surfaces?

While bacteria may all fall into the same category, as far as most of us are concerned, each one is incredibly different from the next, with some dying off much more quickly after heat is introduced to the equation. In the case of COVID-19, there is no evidence to suggest that this is the case, which is why most studies are guessing that it has a “shelf life” of anywhere from a few hours up to several days long.

Should you expect a shortage at your cannabis dispensary?

If you’ve heard the latest stories in cannabis news, then you have likely come across at least a few headlines that warn of a potential shortage along with information about various other issues that the industry is facing due to the spread of this disease, but right now in Canada, there is no shortage of pot products available for consumers.

Now, that doesn’t mean that you shouldn’t stock up, but we’ll touch on that in just a moment. In the meantime, there is no reason to run out and buy edibles in preparation for an end of the world scenario, because the average cannabis dispensary isn’t experiencing any kind of shortage. If anything, panic buying has led to a decrease in marijuana sales, because everyone is more concerned about stocking up on food, toilet paper, disinfectants, and other essentials instead.

Tips and tricks to cut down on the risk of spreading germs

Most cannabis videos that are online right now aren’t dedicated to helping you to protect yourself from invasive germs because it is rare that we come across such a widespread problem, and as the old saying goes, sharing is caring. A few irritating bacteria aren’t normally much of an issue for cannabis consumers, but since we are currently dealing with an epidemic of incredibly significant proportions, it’s important that we all consider some of the slight changes that we could make in an attempt to slow the spread without going so far as hiding ourselves away from the world.

Of course, you could always just avoid shared smoking sessions for the next several months until the majority of the issue is entirely resolved, but for many of us, this is a social activity that fosters close community connections and relationships, which is why all of our advice here pertains to those who want to keep on sharing while still taking a few extra precautions, just in case.

1. Make sure that everyone involved washes their hands

If you are hosting a group of people, then this one should be easy to pull off. Use a bathroom or kitchen sink to set up a sanitary station, where all guests can be directed to when they arrive. All you need to stock is some antibacterial hand soap, along with a clean hand towel, and a short note as a reminder that a minimum of 30 seconds worth of scrubbing is essential for this extra step to work efficiently.

2. Sanitize mouthpieces between uses and stick to glass devices

Glass and metal are the two best materials out there as far as devices go because they can hold up to just about anything, and they are relatively easy to clean and sanitize between uses. Now, most cannabis enthusiasts would get a bowl packed, and pass the piece from person to person so that everyone gets a hit, but in this case, the only way to effectively sterilize the bong or pipe is to completely and thoroughly clean it between each user.

So, practice packing personal sized bowls and keep some high-quality bong cleaner, and disinfectant wipes handy. That way, once you’re done, it will take little more than a quick rinse and a wipe down for the piece to be ready and safe for the next person in line. This will also help to keep your smoking tools clean, which is a bonus that comes with staying extra vigilant.

3. Bring your own vape tip

Vape pens are one of the most popular cannabis ingestion devices on the market today, and for a good reason. They are more potent and according to the latest research, still healthier than regular smoking through a regular bong or joint, but they also get passed around a lot within smoking circles, which could be an issue if you want to avoid germs. The best way to do so is to bring your own disposable vape pen or to ask everyone who is invited to bring their own tips.

Vape pen tips have small holes which makes them difficult and time-consuming to sanitize between uses, and since so many are created with a fancy coating to give the device an aesthetic appeal, feverishly cleaning them can cause the surface layer to corrode prematurely. That is why we don’t recommend washing between users, as it’s just safer all around if everyone decides to bring their own.

4. Joint filters

This is not the first time that cannabis enthusiasts might want to reduce their potential exposure to germs, as we have been toking for so long that we’ve encountered a fair share of sickness and outbreaks during that time. Aside from harmful bacteria, some have compromised immune systems, and others are just straight up germaphobes who can’t stand the idea of sharing, which is why we already have tools on the market that can help you with this.

Removable joint tips come in all different shapes, sizes, and colors and they are your best bet if you really want to share among others at a time like this. In general, they will come with a pre-drilled hole where you can insert a joint so that the tip of it never actually comes into contact with your lips. After taking a few hits, you can take it off and pass the joint to the next person in line who should have one of their own ready and waiting.

Now, since not everyone has one of these helpful tools lying around, you might want to consider making an investment in some reusable options yourself to keep on hand. That way you will know for sure that anyone who shows up can be included, and you will never ever have to experience a wet or saggy saliva covered joint again. It’s a win-win situation no matter how you look at it.

5. Don’t invite friends to join in when they are actively sick

This one is really hard because while we can certainly agree that sharing is caring and that no one wants to miss out on a good stoner session with some old pals if you or someone that you know is feeling under the weather, it might be safest to wait until they are over it completely to continue. After all, it’s flu and cold season, and if you yourself or anyone that you know is at risk, it’s more than worth the wait to ensure everybody is safe.

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