CANNABIS CLUBS & CORONA VIRUS UPDATE: PUBLIC SERVICE ANNOUNCEMENT – STAY AT HOME – PLEASE SHARE & BOOKMARK IT! 

Harm Reduction News

Due to the rapid and highly infections spread of COVID-19 we are strongly advising cannabis social clubs TO NOT HOLD MEETS, sessions or gatherings (even in your homes) from this moment onwards under any circumstances.

We advise members and all cannabis consumers to follow the same guidance as clubs. This is to save lives of our friends and loved ones and beyond by preventing the further spread of the deadly virus SARS-Cov-2. Now is not the time to sesh cause you’re all off work. 

Having carefully reviewed the evidence and science and having spoken to experts in the respiratory and virus fields of medicine, it is also suggested and medically advised to stop smoking and to limit vaping. The New York Times has reported that in the USA 20% of cases come from people aged 20-44 and that vaping has been linked to this category of patients. An 18 year old with underlying health conditions has died in England this week (21/03/20). A 21 year old woman in the UK has died 25/03/20 and her parents say she had no underlying health condition that she had been diagnosed with.

We must all cut out non-essential contact. Essential meaning you seriously cannot do without. Where possible try and use edibles, capsules or tinctures to medicate with or help to ease the frustration of the lockdown many of you are under. 

IF YOU THINK YOU HAVE SYMPTOMS – PLEASE, SELF ISOLATE FOR 7 DAYS

You must also get in touch with people you have been in contact with over the previous 14 days, or had packages from, sent packages to or given money to and inform them. DO NOT BE ASHAMED, this isn’t like getting herpes from a one night stand… This is a virus showing us how fragile our civilization really is. The people you have contacted should also go into self isolation for 14 days in case they show symptoms. Why so serious? Because you can spread the virus before you show any symptoms, potentially infecting many others. Follow our package advice below. 

POLICE HAVE BEEN GIVEN POWERS TO ARREST THOSE NOT SELF ISOLATING WHO ARE SHOWING SYMPTOMS. Don’t put yourself at risk of getting a criminal record for cannabis because you didn’t want to self isolate. Reach out to people in your club or community to see if anyone can provide you a doorstop delivery for your essential herbal medicine. The exttra powers police have been given last for two years and could possibly be given further reach if they feel the lock down isn’t being obeyed. Please be safe out there.

Cannabis medicine is greatly needed in the UK. While there have been great efforts to get imported medical cannabis into the UK for patients that were born in the UK the high cost has made it prohibitive, it looks as though any further push to get access to legal cannabis will be out the window until a vaccine for the new virus has arrived. The chances are parliament won’t function at all in the same way with social distancing being put in place. But we will see.

BECOMING SELF SUFFICIENT IS PROBABLY NOT A BAD IDEA RIGHT ABOUT NOW. BUT… We know this takes time and money, and not everyone can if their space or health condition prevents it. So we have the following advice which we very much hope you take. 

  • If you must travel to pick up, please take our advice and do a contactless service, put money in an envelope if needs be, wipe it down with iso or warm soapy water for 20 seconds before putting it inside. 
  • If you are receiving money, wipe your notes down with isopropyl alcohol wipes and soak off your coins in hot soapy water or isopropyl alcohol if you’re lucky enough to get given shrapnel. 20-30 seconds to break the virus cell wall as it can live on surfaces for 9 days. 
  • If you are picking up a package, wipe down anything before you open it, dispose of packaging and put into your own container that no one else touches. 
  • If you are packaging up or making edibles, please use the health and safety procedures that you would be expected to carry out in a legal cannabis or food facility. Wear a face mask, wear rubber gloves, wipe down your surfaces – protecting your patients/members is paramount. (Check out COSH; it’s what cleaners and kitchens have to adhere to for cleanliness or better yet, look at a labs standard operating proceedures for clenliness and cross contamination).

This is something that we may have to deal with a lot longer than we are being led to believe, so let’s get it right as early as we can. 

The next bit is going to suck for many of you…

DO NOT PASS THE DUTCHIE TO THE LEFT HAND SIDE!!! (or any side!)

DO NOT SHARE SPLIFFS, JOINTS, BONGS, PIPES, VAPES, DRINKS, BAGS OF SWEETS. Saliva and spit mouth to mouth on these items or on the end of your finger tips of these ways of consumption are the highest risk of transfering the virus. Get into the habit (if you aren’t already) of wiping down your mouthpiece thoroughly with isopropyl alcohol after each use or putting it in a bowl of isopropyl or warm soapy water. Wash your hands after, too.

IF YOU HAVE A MEDICAL CONDITION AND ARE UNDER A SPECIALIST FOR MEDICATION CONTACT THEM TO SEE IF YOU ARE AT GREATER RISK. DON’T WING IT. 

If you are on immunosuppressant drugs or have an autoimmune disease, cancer or are pregnant you must stay at home, you are at greater risk. Those with breathing difficulties or bad asthma should heed the official advice also which will be sent out in the post by the government to 1.5 million people at risk. The majority of people who have died so far have all had underlying health conditions. Babies have been born with the infection also. 

We have been doing what we do as the UKCSC and our independent clubs around the county to protect these vulnerable people – please, do not let us fail them now through complacency. Everything we have worked for over the last decade will have been for nothing. 

Men are also at greater risk of dying when they become infected with the Corona Virus. The cannabis community has been criticized recently for being male dominated but please, let’s look after the guys – for the most part they are who have been growing the flowers we’ve enjoyed for the past 40+ years and created many innovations of our industry, bred our favourite strains and taught many of us how to grow through books, magazines, videos and at home. The Corona Virus however, is not the same risk we’ve been taking by breaking the law. It is much more serious. 

What is COVID19 / Coronavirus / SARS-Cov2 

Covid19 is the illness you get from the Serious Acute Respiratory System (SARS) Coronavirus (CoV) Type 2 or SARS-Cov-2. 

Corona means “crown” in latin and is used to describe the crown like structure. The Coronavirus family is very big and we have other kinds already that are less serious but still fatal.

SARS-Cov-2 has two strains, S and L. The S is an ancestral strain but it has mutated into the L strain which has a higher effectiveness at latching onto the ACE2 receptor which is the protein on the outside of the alveoli which is inside your lungs – it lets the oxygen into your lungs. See how small we are talking now! NB The ACE2 receptor is the target or hypertension drugs but medical professionals across the board have said not to stop taking them.

Scientists aren’t sure if the L strain evolved inside humans or the original animal (believed to be a bat or a pangolin) and both the S and L strain crossed over together with the L just being more effective. 70% of cases of infection are from the L strain – but scientists aren’t sure if this is because it is more dangerous yet – it is too early to say it just has a longer protein hook for grappling onto the alveoli and breaking in to get a lifeline so it can multiply. It is also too early to say that if you have one you can’t get the other, there is now a case in China where someone has been readmitted after being released after showing no symptoms. 

Protect Your Lungs: How the Coronavirus gets into your system

Covid19’s side effects are mainly focussed on the respiratory system so it has a negative impact on breathing which is why so many people are tragically losing their lives. Recent autopsies have shown the deceased’s air passages are blocked up with a mucus that has hardened, making it impossible to breath. NB It is not just old people that are getting infected or dying – those with an underlying health condition or prescribed and taking certain medications are at significantly greater risk and our cannabis community has a very large number of these people among us. (See bottom for more info if you are taking a prescription.) 

THE INCUBATION PERIOD COULD TAKE UP TO 28 DAYS AFTER YOU ARE FIRST INFECTED – and you could infect everyone you come into contact with after that before showing symptoms. This is why the STAY AT HOME quarantine has been advised and further actually implemented in countries that are taking this as seriously as we should be here in the UK by now. 

The virus is passed on by human to human contact and has a level of airborne spreading via being carried by droplets which can travel 4.5 meters in distance – that’s the width of some clubs rooms. Covid19’s size is 0.1microns but is carried on these moisture droplets which are around 0.5 microns big – both of these are impossible to see with the naked eye or any home microscope you have. You wouldn’t notice it landing on your skin. This means coughing, sneezing, spit, snot and saliva of a person infected or carrying the active virus can pass it on. Listening to the “keep your distance” advice is important for this reason. Accidentally spitting as you talk could be fatal to someone. 

The virus can be in your nasal passage for up to four days before it finally gets breathed into your lungs and starts to make itself at home. It can then be 24 days before you show symptoms. 

The virus can live on surfaces for up to 9 days. So it is important to wipe down any surfaces you come into contact with or have just used with warm soapy water or an alcohol solution of over 60% ethanol or isopropyl alcohol and make sure the surface is soaked for at least 20 seconds, as the science shows this is how long it takes to break down the cell wall of the virus. If you don’t do this you risk making contact with the virus days after anyone has been in the same space as you have just entered. If you think all this is “effort” yes, it is, an effort to stop people we love potentially dying. 

Touching your mouth, eyes, nose and inner ear is where the infection can enter the body. It is important that you wash your hands with warm soapy water or alcohol gel for 20 seconds or more after touching surfaces if you have not got gloves to wear.  Wearing gloves and a face mask will make you more aware of the fact you are just about to touch your face and you can prevent yourself from doing so which is important if you do have to go out into public spaces. 

Humans (that’s you!) touch their faces every 2.5 seconds on average (scientists don’t fully know why) but this is an alarming amount of opportunity for the virus to get into your system and/or someone else’s. 

It is advised by health care professionals and virus specialists that if you leave the house and come into any contact with surfaces or people – within six feet you should take your clothes off as soon as you get home and wash them or put them in direct sunlight for several hours (not inside lights) to neutralise the virus. YOU SHOULD THEN TAKE A WARM SOAPY SHOWER OR BATH.

As you can see, all this imposes on the ways of cannabis culture greatly, but if we want any culture left at all when this thing has started to come under control it’s probably best to take the sesh into hibernation state. Just until we know more and we can keep you informed as things progress.  

I have seen many cannabis patients and growers making the joke, “I’m a hermit. I’ve been in quarantine for years… this should be a breeze”. For those who are not so keen on the idea of being effectively under house arrest for the next month to three months it could be a good time to brush up on your cannabis knowledge, finally get into a daily yoga practice, learn an instrument or at least one song, get fit and improve your general health and boost your endocannabinoid system (just in case access to cannabis starts to become a problem). 

Please stay safe, stay at home and of course – be excellent to each other.

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