Is It Possible To Get A Secondhand Or Contact High?

If you have ever asked yourself, can you get high from smelling weed plants? Otherwise known as a secondhand high or contact high after possibly seeing in a television show or film you might have watched, this article is for you.

There are some individuals who have claimed to feel slightly off when leaving a smoky area in which people have been consuming cannabis for a while. For some this seeing or being in an environment like this can cause some fear due to the idea that they might end up getting a secondhand high. As such, it is important to know whether or not a contact high is really something to be wary of.

So, let’s get into what the research has to say about people pondering the age-old question of can you get high smelling weed smoke? or is it all just a myth?

Firstly, a study conducted in 2015 by John Hopkins universally is somewhat undecided, answering the question as both yes and no. With a sample size of six marijuana smokers and six non-smokers, all of the participants were in a small unventilated room where the smokers consumed 10 high potency (11.3% THC) joints. Once they were done, non-smokers stated they felt pleasant, but also more tired and not as alert. When their blood and urine tests were taken, they did test positive for THC.

When this experiment was done again in a better-ventilated room, the known smokers claimed to feel hungrier, but none of the participants came back with positive blood and urine tests when tested for THC.

Given this information, the researchers concluded that when an individual is exposed to marijuana in extreme conditions, such as being in a small room with little to no ventilation for a prolonged period of time, it is possible to get a contact buzz. However, in most cases, the effects are likely a result of the power of suggestion. When quickly inhaling a bit of smoke while walking down the street is not enough for a contact high.

As long as you are not enclosed in a small room with no ventilation while there are people smoking for a while, your test will most likely come back THC free, and you may feel some of the effects. If not, this is highly unlikely to occur.

After inhaling marijuana smoke, is the THC active?

Michelle Grewe / Flickr

According to a page from the 1999 British Journal of Anesthesia, we know that the lungs work to absorb the majority of the THC when inhaling weed smoke. About half of the THC and other cannabinoids are able to make it into the air to be inhaled, whether it is in a joint or cigarette.

For smokers with lots of experience who can deeply inhale and hold the smoke within their lungs, almost all of the cannabinoids that are present will enter the bloodstream, meaning there is very little THC in the air that can be absorbed by a passerby.

Thus, This information, as well as the John Hopkins University study, shows that you will need to be in a room with poor ventilation for a decent amount of time before you will experience any effects. Otherwise, the cannabinoids are most likely not in the air by the time you inhale.

Additional Studies on Secondhand Highs

Studies from the mid to late 1980s found the acute toxicity of marijuana was very low, which makes it very hard to feel any of the effects unless it is being directly inhaled by the smoker themselves. While this still may be true, with the advances in weed potency today, this is likely a topic that would benefit from being explored further.

This is because the amount of THC has expanded due to new cultivation techniques and technology. Back in the 1970s, a joint often contained 10 mg of THC, compared to a modern joint that on average contains 60-150 mg or more of THC. With the increase in THC, it is possible that the findings in these older studies may no longer be accurate, as the effects of elevated THC may play a large role in the likelihood of obtaining a secondhand high.

Moreover, it is unclear whether secondhand cannabis inhalation has the same health risks as tobacco smoke, but there is little evidence to support this claim. It is deemed as less carcinogenic than cigarette smoke and is unlikely to be an issue regardless unless you are in the aforementioned extreme conditions.

Is it Okay if I Smell weed in the air? or Walk into Remnants of Second Marijuana Smoke? As you may have guessed by now, it is not likely you get high, or test positive on a drug test from smelling or walking into cannabis smoke. This also extends to anyone asking “can you get high from smelling cooking weed?” as ultimately what matters is not how the product is being inhaled, but rather how long and what the level of ventilation is.

Even so, despite the fact that it is not likely for an individual to have any issue with a contact high, it is still important to be respectful towards those that do not wish to consume cannabis. Just because you would like to smoke a joint, this does not mean others would like to walk into the smoke or smell the odour it emits. As such, it is advised that you are always aware of your surroundings and try to avoid walking right into the path of non-smokers as you do not know their feelings towards it. Lastly, try smoking in an area that you are unlikely to run into any willing participants if possible.

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