To the Editor:

Marijuana and methamphetamine do not mix well with viral disease insults — like COVID-19.

According to the American Lung Association (“Marijuana and Lung Health”), “smoking marijuana clearly damages the human lung. Research shows that smoking marijuana causes chronic bronchitis, and marijuana smoke has been shown to injure the cell linings of the large airways, which could explain why smoking marijuana leads to symptoms such as chronic cough, phlegm production, wheeze and acute bronchitis.”

Smoking marijuana also harms more than just the lungs and respiratory system. It “can also affect the immune system and the body’s ability to fight disease, especially for those whose immune systems are already weakened from immunosuppressive drugs or diseases, such as HIV infection.”

Many of the critical pathways involved in the inflammatory cascade “may be impaired or compromised when endogenous or exogenous cannabinoids are present during an infection.” The inflammatory princess is “essential for recruitment of both innate and adaptive immune cells to the site of infection to control virus production and limit spread, and then to promote recovers” (Reiss, Carol; Department of Biology, NYU — June 2010).

With rare exception, in the virus infection clinical settings studies, “both in vitro and in vivo, cannabinoid treatment led to disease progression, increased pathology and sometimes to host death.”

Methamphetamine also significantly diminishes the “processing capacity” of cellular components involved in the innate immune response, including “natural killer cells, dendritic cells, monocytes, macrophages and granulocytes (Frontiers in Neuroscience, Jan. 12, 2015).

Meth also disrupts T-cell proliferation, an essential step in mounting a strong and effective adaptive immune response. These deleterious “immunosuppressive effects” on users’ innate and adaptive immune systems are believed to have “profound immunological implications” (nature.com/Cell Death Discovery, March 19, 2018).

The harmful primary and secondary effects of these two drugs of abuse should not be ignored.

Bernie Hendricks, registered pharmacist

Brookings