It’s that time of year again. In my humble opinion, Halloween is the greatest holiday of them all. Better bust out the pumpkin bongs, put up the spooky decorations, and light up the “smoke machine” of your preference. This year may be a bit different than previous years, because of–you guessed it–Covid-19. It’s hard to have large parties with people in tight proximity to one another while there is a respiratory pandemic still going on across the nation without a high health risk. Plus, how many people are going to bother wearing medical masks underneath their Halloween masks? Halloween has the potential to create even more super spreader events that can lead to further outbreaks. Small, preferably outdoor gatherings seem to be the name of the game. Maybe pop a few gummies and get lost in a corn maze with your friends. Ahead of time take the crew out to the pumpkin patch and support your local farmers by picking your own instead of just grabbing them from the front of the grocery store. For those of you in the Boulder area, I highly recommend 7th Generation Farm over in Louisville, directly across the street from the King Soopers on South Boulder Road. I’ve been going to them every year since I moved to Colorado; they’re great folks who grow awesome pumpkins and sell great produce. Here at Elements we go to their farm to buy all of our employees pumpkins for our annual pumpkin carving contest, and I always buy myself a couple spares: one to carve at home, one to turn into a pumpkin bong, because what Halloween is complete without a pumpkin bong?! Sadly, this year we may not be able to share pumpkin bongs in 2020.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has already issued a series of warnings and suggestions for holiday gatherings. The risk factors depend upon the following according to the CDC:
- Community levels of COVID-19 – Higher levels of COVID-19 cases and community spread in the gathering location, as well as where attendees are coming from, increase the risk of infection and spread among attendees. Family and friends should consider the number and rate of COVID-19 cases in their community and in the community where they plan to celebrate when considering whether to host or attend a holiday celebration. Information on the number of cases in an area can be found on the area’s health department website.
- The location of the gathering – Indoor gatherings generally pose more risk than outdoor gatherings. Indoor gatherings with poor ventilation pose more risk than those with good ventilation, such as those with open windows or doors.
- The duration of the gathering – Gatherings that last longer pose more risk than shorter gatherings.
- The number of people at the gathering – Gatherings with more people pose more risk than gatherings with fewer people. CDC does not have a limit or recommend a specific number of attendees for gatherings. The size of a holiday gathering should be determined based on the ability to reduce or limit contact between attendees, the risk of spread between attendees, and state, local, territorial, or tribal health and safety laws, rules, and regulations.
- The locations attendees are traveling from – Gatherings with attendees who are traveling from different places pose a higher risk than gatherings with attendees who live in the same area. Higher levels of COVID-19 cases and community spread in the gathering location, or where attendees are coming from, increase the risk of infection and spread among attendees.
- The behaviors of attendees prior to the gathering – Gatherings with attendees who are not adhering to social distancing (staying at least 6 feet apart), mask wearing, hand washing, and other prevention behaviors pose more risk than gatherings with attendees who are engaging in these preventative behaviors.
- The behaviors of attendees during the gathering – Gatherings with more preventive measures, such as mask wearing, social distancing, and hand washing, in place pose less risk than gatherings where fewer or no preventive measures are being implemented.
So what does this mean for marijuana consumers like you and me when it comes time to celebrate Halloween? Personally, I think edibles are the name of the game this year. I always like to make infused candy and fall seasonal baked goods for my Halloween shindigs, and this year even more than in previous years, edibles look like the smart way to go. There’s a reduced risk of Covid-19 infection if you aren’t sharing pieces, joints, blunts, bongs, and/or vapes. While your stomach acid doesn’t kill the coronavirus as many believe, cooked food is generally still safe to consume so long as you’re washing your hands before consumption. So edibles are just about the safest means of cannabis consumption right now–less sharing, less coughing, less lung irritation. Or if you and your friend group are dyed in the wool tokers, make the party BYOJoints or BYOPiece, so no one has to share and swap germs. Just be warned that the coughing often associated with smoking/vaping is liable to spread the virus in the air, so once again the open air is your best option for location. Fortunately this year seems to be staying warm rather later than usual, so a backyard Halloween gathering is still viable. Even so, I would highly encourage guests to wash their hands frequently or at least have hand sanitizer available outside, and if possible have folks wear their masks while indoors. If an outdoor venue isn’t in the cards, keep your windows and doors open to increase airflow and circulation. The CDC also has recommendations for both party hosts and partygoers to mitigate health risks. And if there’s one thing we’ve learned from our Commander in Cheeto getting Covid, nobody, not even the most powerful man in the world, is immune to the ravages of the pandemic.
Honestly, it might be a smart idea to try to incorporate a medical mask into your costume as part of the design. I’m no costume designer, but the list of Halloween costumes with a lower face covering is extensive. Just like when you had to carry a glowstick or flashlight trick-or-treating as a kid for safety, if you’re going to go out this year, make sure to wear your mask. Help flatten the curve and keep you and your fellow party people safe while having your fun. Now get out there and have yourself a great Halloween!