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Learn | 03.06.2023

Is Weed Contact High A Real Thing?

Can you really get high from standing around weed smokers? Here's the rundown.

Blowing smoke into your partner’s mouth can be sexy, but it’s not entirely effective. Even just standing around weed smokers might seem like an easy (and free) way to get high, but that’s not the case. Well, unless you’re in a hotbox.

As legalization continues to push forward, the contact high is being more closely examined as people wonder what impacts their smoking may have on children, pets, friends, family, and nearby strangers. Turns out, the contact high might not be everything you thought it was.

See below for more information about the cannabis contact high, if it works, and the best possible way to experience it.

Is The Contact High A Real Thing?

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There is some skepticism surrounding second-hand or contact high. Simply put, there aren’t any clear-cut symptoms of a contact high that can’t be dismissed by simple logic. Smoke-filled rooms can indeed make one’s eyes red, and are you tired because you have a second-hand high or because it’s 3 am?

The majority of THC, the primary psychoactive cannabinoid in cannabis, is well absorbed by the lungs before you exhale. So, while blowing smoke directly into the mouth of another person (popularized by many couples) can technically result in a bit of a high, the chances of getting high by simply being around a cannabis smoker are relatively low.

Believe it or not, the contact high is quite elusive at best. Cecilia J. Hillard, a professor of pharmacology and director of the Medical College of Wisconsin’s Neuroscience Research Center believes that the contact high is merely a function of a placebo. She says the lungs are very efficient when it comes to absorbing THC, therefore, the contact high is purely a psychological phenomenon…there is barely any THC present in the exhaled air.

Only In Extreme Cases (Hotbox)

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A 2010 study by the Journal of Analytic Toxicology also backed up this assertion, concluding that second-hand exposure would only leave trace amounts of THC in the system of a non-smoker; not nearly enough to get them high.

In fact, the only instances where a slight high has occurred were under extreme circumstances. Hotboxing with heavy smoke (16 joints to be exact) in a small room for an hour once got subjects just as high as if they’d smoked themselves. So, the cannabis contact high or second-hand high from weed is only effective in extreme cases like a hotbox, when the air you’re breathing is practically smoke.

Those who are afraid that second-hand cannabis smoke could show up on a drug test also have a very low chance of meeting the THC threshold. If you’re still concerned about this, be sure to exercise and drink water to burn off any trace amounts of THC in your system.

Fun? Yes. High? Probably Not

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If you’re not in a hotbox, being around smokers doesn’t seem to get you high, and any additional giggles might be due to the placebo effect. Just being around goofy smokers can be fun in itself.

But as far as second-hand smoke is concerned, we all know that cigarette smoke is the worst. However, carcinogens and materials from blunts or tobacco papers could still be a cause for concern around a more sensitive population.

So, it’s not a bad idea to exercise caution around children, pets, the elderly, and those who might be prone to respiratory illnesses, just in case. Chances are, these people won’t be asking to join your hotbox anyways.

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