There are around 10 million more Americans smoking marijuana these days than just over a decade ago, according to a recent study from the National Institute on Drug Abuse. That number is expected to increase significantly over the next few years, as more states move to legalize for recreational use.
It is beyond exciting to see the majority of the population finally supporting the concept of legal weed with open arms and, in many cases, open lungs, but there is now a frightening possibility that all of this pot smoking could eventually become a contributing factor in the demise of civil society.
The cannabis plant, itself, is relatively harmless—everyone from scientists to soccer moms understands this by now—but the act of smoking the herb, specifically during those times when joints are being passed around by friends, family or even perfect strangers, has the potential to spread a plethora of contagious diseases ranging from the common cold to those dreaded little flu bugs.
It is true that most regular pot smokers fully understand that there will be times when they find themselves plagued by some bizarre sickness simply because one of their less than courteous buddies didn’t say anything about having a fever until after everyone in the garage was already stoned. But, let’s face it—no one has any interest in dealing with savage unpleasantries like cold sweats, projectile vomiting, diarrhea or even death.
The latest statistics from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention show that seasonal flu viruses kill thousands of people ever year. Most of these casualties involve the very young and the elderly, but people are dying from it, nonetheless.
But even with thousands of kills under their belts, these little rascally, puke bugs are still small potatoes compared to what could be on the horizon.
Dr. Sanjay Gupta says it is only a matter of time before the world is faced with another deadly flu pandemic—a situation that could conceivably put the stoner community, and others who engage regularly in spit-swapping activities, at a much greater risk for being snuffed out long before the nation’s scientific minds ever have a chance to develop a cure.
“Like with most people, it is probably something you haven’t spent much time thinking about. After all, it is human nature to avoid being consumed by hypotheticals until they are staring us squarely in the face,” Gupta wrote in a recent article for CNN. “Such is the case with a highly lethal flu pandemic. And when it comes, it will affect every human alive today.”
Even if the outbreak of a deadly virus is only a possibility, perhaps the time has come to put the communal smoke circles in our rearview and opt, instead, for solo highs.
That’s right, we said it—it’s time for new rules: BYOGDW…Bring you own goddamn weed! Because if you wouldn’t otherwise put your lips on the person standing next to you in a smoke circle, then there is absolutely no reason in hell’s holy name that you should ever be required to smoke a joint, share a bowl or take a hit off a vaporizer that has been used by that person.
In this society, we do not go to bars and take swigs off each other’s beer. That would be insane. Smoking marijuana should be no different.
Fortunately, some cannabis companies are already creating pot products that are not meant to be shared—perfect for germaphobes. One organization, a start-up going by the name of Toast, is now trying to get the industry to embrace the concept of professionally manufactured joints containing low levels of THC that can be enjoyed socially in a manner similar to a cocktail. Not only does this product allow the user to moderate his or her consumption, like they might do with alcohol, it also eliminates the sharing of flu, mono, herpes, meningitis and a slew of other tiny, disgusting varmints swimming around in people’s saliva.
Call it paranoid, but considering that some of the past flu pandemics have put millions of people in an early grave, the cannabis community would be well advised to err on the side of caution when it comes to how they smoke pot in the future.