Cannabis Science

Smoking Weed While Sick – Is it Safe?

sick man with a face mask

If you’re feeling sick, you always want to reach for things that will make you feel better. That means chicken soup, orange juice, a warm blanket, and some over-the-counter medication for many people. But what about weed? For centuries, people have been using weed to alleviate ailments such as headaches. So, is smoking weed while sick safe? Here’s what we know. 

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Is Smoking Weed While Sick Bad?

There aren’t many studies and much evidence regarding using weed while ill. However, we can make some inferences based on knowing how weed affects people. And thus, if it’s a good idea to smoke while sick.

Before we get into how weed could potentially affect certain conditions, let’s talk about the impact of weed on your immune system. 

There are varying opinions about whether weed has a negative effect on the immune system or not. Live Science says smoking marijuana can suppress the immune system. Their reasoning is that marijuana increases production of myeloid-derived suppressor cells. These cells are produced by the body to suppress the immune system. 

In Live Science, Prakash Nagarkatti, a microbiology and pathology professor, said weed suppresses immune functions and makes the user more susceptible to infections.

A 2021 study also says that cannabis use has an increased risk of acquiring infection. The study concluded, “Cannabis use may be associated with adverse effects on immune function and, thereby, increase the risk of acquiring or transmitting infections.”

Laura Borgelt, a professor in the departments of clinical pharmacy and family medicine concurred. She told Vice that there is a theoretical belief that weed suppresses the immune system. That means that weed could hinder the body’s ability to fight off a virus. 

On the other hand, Jordan Tishler, a Harvard-trained physician who runs InhaleMD, disagrees. He told Vice that you should be fine using weed if you have a typical functioning immune system. Tishler told Vice, “I would not be concerned about the immune system in anyone who starts with a normal one.”

Cold or Flu

If you’re sick with the cold or flu, you may want to avoid smoking weed until you feel better.  

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Even though Medical News Today says there is no evidence that weed would prolong a cold or suppress your immune system, they say weed could aggravate specific symptoms such as coughing

Healthline also says weed may affect your symptoms. Both weed and the flu can cause headaches, chills and fatigue. Therefore, using weed while sick could exacerbate your symptoms. 

You may think I don’t experience headaches, chills, or fatigue when I use weed; I’ll be fine. 

That may be true. However, Healthline says, “You may also find that your body responds differently to weed when you’re sick.” 

In addition to that, if you’re taking over-the-counter medication for your cold or flu, you may want to put the bong down. According to Medical News Today, weed may interact with certain medicines, especially those with similar side effects.  Therefore when you use both, the side effects may be exacerbated. These side effects include dry mouth, drowsiness, and feeling cold. 

Fortunately, there is good news! If you’re a regular stoner, Healthline says that chances are weed won’t make you feel worse, but to still be cautious. In addition to that, weed may be able to decrease inflammation which causes sore throats and fever. However, due to a lack of research, we can’t be sure if it’s worth it. 

Strep Throat

We already covered whether or not weed would make strep throat worse. However, just to recap, it can. 

According to Healthline, smoking weed (or anything) can make respiratory symptoms worse. Strep throat symptoms that typically include a sore throat could worsen because, as Healthline puts it, the smoke normally irritates the throat and airways. 

In addition to that, weed can make you cough which can also irritate a sore throat. 

At the same time, according to Healthline, weed has anti-inflammatory properties and pain-relieving abilities and may help with insomnia. Technically, those properties may help to alleviate symptoms of strep throat. Therefore, maybe using weed in a different form could be beneficial, such as vaping.

Healthline says, “If you have a cough, cold, or the flu, vaping is likely the better alternative to minimize respiratory symptoms.”

In addition to vaping, you may be able to use dabs, edibles or any other weed product.

However, we have to caution you again. Remember, if you’re taking over-the-counter medications for your strep throat, the weed may interact with the medication. In addition to that, you may still experience side effects from the weed product that may be unpleasant. 

Healthline says, “The side effects depend on the concentration of active ingredients, such as THC.” In addition to that, Healthline also warns against medicating with weed when sick if it wasn’t already part of your routine. 


We’ve already covered whether or not using weed during the COVID-19 pandemic is safe. However, we’ll recap and add some additional information.

According to new research, there are compounds in cannabis that can block COVID 19’s entry into cells, thus preventing an infection.  Forbes quoted the study saying, “…..these cannabinoids, isolated or in hemp extracts, have the potential to prevent as well as treat infection by SARS-CoV-2,”

However, according to Very Well Health, smoking destroys these compounds so that you won’t be getting their benefits through your blunt. 

In addition to that, research shows that cannabidiol (CBD) may inhibit viral replication in the epithelial cells in the human lung. 

On the other hand, a 2020 document from The Canadian Centre on Substance Use and Addiction says, “There is no evidence that smoking or vaping cannabis can prevent, alleviate or treat COVID-19 symptoms. Cannabis smoking or vaping could worsen the respiratory symptoms of COVID-19.”

While more research is needed, cannabis treatment for COVID-19 looks promising.

Smoking weed may not alleviate your symptoms if you’re fighting a COVID-19 infection and coughing, fatigued, or have a sore throat. Remember that smoking of any kind can negatively affect your respiratory system, and COVID-19 tends to affect your respiratory system negatively too. Very Well Health says, “Smoking and excessive cannabis use may compromise lung health, leaving you more at risk for COVID-19 infection.”

Maybe using weed in another capacity such as an edible or CBD oil could be better for your symptoms. Healthline also said that CBD does have side effects such as diarrhea and vomiting and so if you’ve never used it before, wait until you feel better. 


Is smoking weed while sick safe? It depends on who you ask. While we can all admit that weed promises to alleviate many ailments, we also have to admit there is a chance your symptoms can get worse. If you’re fighting an infection and don’t regularly use weed, opt for another treatment. In addition to that, even if you’re a stoner, be careful of the interactions between weed and other medications you may take to feel better. We’ll continue to monitor research in this area and keep you updated.


About Trevann

Trevann is Stoner Rotation’s Jamaica-based lead writer for the Science section of our cannabis blog. She graduated with honors receiving her Bachelor of Science degree in Molecular Biology from the University of West Indies, Mona. For the last three years, she has covered some of the biggest questions around cannabis and health underpinned with research from supporting studies, medical journals and scholarly articles. Got something on your mind? You can reach her at [email protected].