What Are the Side Effects of Secondhand Marijuana Smoke?
Marijuana smoke is created whenever someone burns the leaves, flowers, stems, or seeds of the cannabis plant. Marijuana is used by an average of 26 million Americans per month. It’s been studied for some medical uses.
But despite marijuana’s prevalence, its safety is sometimes in dispute. Smoking it, or being near someone else who is smoking it, does cause side effects.
Marijuana contains a chemical called THC, which can block pain and bring on a feeling of relaxation to people who breathe it in or consume it. Smoking weed has depressant, hallucinogenic, and stimulant effects. Inhaling THC can also impair your ability to concentrate and to operate a car.
Whenever you’re breathing in THC, it’s possible to get high. Effects of THC vary from person to person, as well as how much of the chemical you’re exposed to.
Drug test results can differ for people who are exposed to secondhand marijuana smoke and people who smoked marijuana.
In 2015, a small study of six smokers and six nonsmokers showed that marijuana smoked in highly concentrated quantities could trigger a positive urine drug test among people who were simply exposed to the smoke in an unventilated room.
However, ventilation during marijuana exposure, as well as how often exposure occurred, were critical factors in what the drug test result would be.
For example, smelling marijuana smoke in passing once in a while is a lot different from living with a habitual marijuana smoker who uses marijuana in your presence regularly.
Another small study attempted to mimic a more true-to-life example.
Rather than stick nonsmokers in a closed, unventilated room for long smoking sessions, these study participants spent three hours in a coffee shop where other patrons were smoking marijuana cigarettes.
After their exposure to secondhand marijuana smoke, participants were tested for THC. While a trace amount of THC did show up in their blood and urine, it wasn’t enough to trigger a positive drug test result.
It was unlikely that any contact high was passed during this study.
With that being said, getting a contact high is possible.
Being near marijuana smoke often and in poorly ventilated areas (like a car with the windows rolled up or a small bedroom without a fan) may result in feeling a limited amount of the effects that the person smoking experiences.
But catching a whiff of marijuana fragrance through your apartment window or entering a room where people were smoking several hours ago is very unlikely (maybe even impossible) to affect you at all.
There isn’t much by way of clinical data to understand if secondhand marijuana smoke is as bad for your health as tobacco smoke.
According to the American Lung Association, regularly smoking marijuana yourself can damage your lungs and weaken your immune system.
And a 2016 study on rats showed that just one minute of secondhand marijuana smoke impaired lung function for at least 90 minutes — which is longer than the lungs are affected by tobacco secondhand smoke.
Secondhand marijuana smoke exposes you to many of the same toxic chemicals as smoking it directly does. Because of this, the American Lung association recommends that people avoid exposure to secondhand marijuana smoke.
Contact high may be less common than we think, but it’s possible. Here are some of the other side effects and symptoms of secondhand marijuana smoke exposure.
Smoking weed can slow your reaction time when you’re on the road. If you have high levels of THC in your blood from secondhand marijuana smoke, it might have the same effect.
If you’re around marijuana smoke for a long period of time, you may begin to feel lightheaded or dizzy.
One effect of the THC in marijuana is the feeling of calmness it gives some users. For others, this calmness can take the form of feeling tired or lethargic.
Researchers are still trying to understand the connection between excessive marijuana exposure and mental health. It appears that marijuana use can trigger or worsen some mental health conditions, including depression.
No link has been established between secondhand smoke marijuana exposure and depression.
The legal and medical use of marijuana is changing rapidly, but that doesn't mean it's safe for everyone to be exposed to it. Here's what you need to know.
How to inhale weed without going overboard
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- How to inhale weed properly
- How to avoid inhaling too much
Every stoner begins as a novice and learning how to inhale weed is the first step of every toker’s journey. Since breathing is a natural process that occurs thousands of times per day, it’s strange to contemplate “how to inhale.” Nevertheless, all first-time smokers start somewhere, and proper breathing technique is essential to maximizing the cannabis experience.
A proper breathing technique is essential to maximizing the cannabis experience. Photo by: Gina Coleman/Weedmaps
Most first-timers hit their joint like they’re smoking a cigarette without actually breathing the smoke into their lungs. If the smoke isn’t fully inhaled into the lungs, it only travels into the throat and nasal passages, which absorb THC, thus wasting precious cannabinoids. This is why many first-time tokers fail to get high.
Read on to learn how to avoid coughing and choking while making the most of every cannabis hit.
How to inhale weed properly
Proper inhalation techniques stem from the same basic principles and vary slightly depending on whether you’re smoking a joint, hitting a bong, or using a vaporizer.
When smoking, you’re burning cannabis to the point of combustion and inhaling the smoke to deliver cannabinoids into your bloodstream. Smoking can be painful for lungs, so it’s important to take slow, measured draws to minimize irritation. Start with shallow inhalations and draw more deeply as you progress and become more comfortable.
Here’s a handy technique to ensure your lungs absorb the maximum amount of THC: slowly inhale about two-thirds of your hit and follow up with a deep, inhaled gulp of air. The fresh air pushes the cannabis smoke down into the lungs and should improve THC’s absorption. There’s no need to hold your inhale for long. THC and other cannabinoids may act as bronchodilators, which means they increase airflow, speeding absorption.
Slowly inhale about two-thirds of your hit and follow up with a deep, inhaled gulp of air. Photo by: Gina Coleman/Weedmaps
After your first toke, consider waiting 5-10 minutes to observe the onset of effects and then deciding whether you need more.
How to avoid inhaling too much
Some cannabis consumption methods are more harsh than others. Blunts and spliffs include tobacco, which damages the lungs. Joints and pipes, which contain cannabis only, may be less harmful. Similarly, smoking marijuana out of a bong or bubbler cools the otherwise harsh cannabis smoke by filtering it through water.
Smoking marijuana out of a bong or bubbler cools the otherwise harsh cannabis smoke by filtering it through water. Photo by: Gina Coleman/Weedmaps
Start slow as you pull through your pipe or bong, gulping a breath of fresh air after you clear the chamber. The gulp helps you absorb the THC fully. You can always take deeper hits as you become more comfortable and understand how to control your dose.
Vaporizing weed is less harsh on the lungs than smoke, but many cannabis consumers report a more intense high with this method. Cannabis vaporizes at a much lower temperature than its burning point, thus preserving the cannabinoids and terpenes otherwise lost in combustion.
Vaporizing weed is less harsh on the lungs than smoke. Photo by: Gina Coleman/Weedmaps
When vaping cannabis, whether in oil or flower form, it’s better to take shallower hits and hold them for slightly less time than you would hold cannabis smoke. Take time between hits to assess how you feel and decide whether you’d like to consume more.
How to inhale weed without going overboard Copy article link to clipboard. Link copied to clipboard. Contents How to inhale weed properly How to avoid inhaling too much