Cannabis Secondhand Smoke: Will It Show On A Drug Test?
A lot of people worry about how drug tests work concerning THC. Informing yourself about what you can or cannot do will be half the way to passing one successfully. Be sure you know how secondhand smoke from marijuana will affect your chances.
Cannabis has been associated with misconceptions and myths for a long time. Because of this, it’s no surprise that secondhand weed smoke would also be linked with dangerous consequences. Today, we’ll go through whether you can get high from secondhand smoke, and if this is enough to make you fail a drug test.
EFFECTS OF PASSIVE SMOKING
Whether in an intentional hotbox, an indoor sesh, or a cannabis coffeeshop environment, there will often be people present who don’t smoke. These are people that came for the friends and not for a few tokes of the dank. As such, these are also the people that worry researchers and government agencies; is secondhand smoke harming these individuals?
The inhalation of smoke will always be harmful. But if you’re worried about joining your friends on a smoke sesh every once in a while, don’t be. Especially if its cannabis smoke and not tobacco one. Secondhand smoke won’t kill you prematurely, nor will it create any health issues. Just don’t take your child to that environment. Although health consequences are a concern, you can’t really get high from a hotbox if you’re not smoking.
In order for your body to test positive for THC from a hotbox session, you’d have to be surrounded by smoke for hours. And furthermore, the reason hotbox highs are often more intense is mostly due to an abundance of CO₂ and slight oxygen deprivation. If you’re a past smoker or are on a tolerance break, it might also be your brain playing tricks on you. Your brain will link the weed smell to a feeling it remembers.
WILL I FAIL MY DRUG TEST FROM SECONDHAND SMOKE?
So, you were at a party having a conversation with a cool stoner. You inhaled a decent quantity of secondhand smoke and forgot you have that drug test in a couple of days. You obviously don’t want to lose your job. But before you dive into an insane detox to flush out the THC, we have good news for you. A 2004 paper concluded that “. the risk of positive oral fluid tests from passive cannabis smoke inhalation is limited to a period of approximately 30 min following exposure”. This seems fair enough. Just make sure you stay away from joints 30 minutes before your drug test.
A 2010 study also looked at cannabinoid concentrations in the blood and urine of people after being in a highly attended Amsterdam coffeeshop for 3 hours. The results showed that indeed the subject absorbed THC, but in miniscule quantities, not enough to get them high. In the blood, THC was only detectable for less than 6 hours. And this will probably be the closest to reality that a study can be on the subject.
This should be enough to relax you. But you should not take this to the extreme. It would still not be smart to hang around a lot of burning marijuana during the days, if not couple of weeks, leading up to a drug test. Research isn’t abundant on the subject, and there is still a lot for us to learn about cannabis. It will always depend on the THC contents of the weed your friends are smoking, how many are smoking, for how long, and where. All of this to say, you can and should be relaxed about this issue, but use your brain as well.
Find out if joining your friends for a smoke session will make you fail your next drug test, even if you're not partaking. The answer lies within!
Can you really get a secondhand high or contact high?
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- Is THC active after cannabis smoke is exhaled?
- Are there any other studies on secondhand highs?
You’ve probably heard the term “ secondhand high ” before. Also known as a contact high, the concept has become a popularized plot point in films and TV shows. You may have even been to a smoky concert hall yourself and walked away feeling a little lightheaded, even if you never took a single puff.
This could be concerning for those who fear that exposure to secondhand weed smoke could get them involuntarily stoned or cause them to fail a drug test . Therefore, it’s important to know whether second-hand cannabis smoke can get you high or enter your system.
So, do you have to inhale weed to get high ? Or can you really get a secondhand high from being around other people smoking cannabis? Is it really a thing?
According to a 2015 Johns Hopkins University study — the answer is both yes and no.
Researchers started with a dozen people — six cannabis smokers and six non-smokers. In the first experiment, all 12 subjects spent an hour together in a small unventilated room, during which time each smoker went through 10 “high-potency” joints (with 11.3% THC content). Afterward, the non-smokers reported feeling “pleasant,” more tired, and less alert. And sure enough, their blood and urine tests came up positive for THC .
The second experiment repeated the scenario, but this time in a room with ventilation . The non-smokers in this experiment later said they felt “hungry” — the study did also finish up around lunchtime — but none of them tested positive for any noticeable amount of THC .
Researchers concluded that being exposed to marijuana smoke under “extreme conditions” can indeed give non-smokers a contact buzz. Outside of that very limited scope, though, any secondhand effects you might feel around cannabis smoke are likely to be the result of the power of suggestion. You can’t get high from catching a whiff of someone’s joint while walking down the street, but you will feel some effects if you are sitting in an unventilated enclosure filled with smoke, also known as hotboxing.
In other words, if you spend a lot of time in a small room with the windows sealed shut while your friends are smoking, your blood and urine might test positive for THC and you might feel its effects. But outside of that, it is more likely that your “contact high” is all in your head, so to speak.
Is THC active after cannabis smoke is exhaled?
If we pull a page from the 1999 British Journal of Anesthesia , we learn that the lungs absorb most of the THC when cannabis smoke is inhaled. Researchers have discovered that approximately fifty percent (50%) of THC and other cannabinoids present in cannabis cigarettes, or joints, make it into the smoke and are inhaled.
“Experienced smokers, who inhale deeply and hold the smoke in the lungs … virtually all of the cannabinoids present in the mainstream smoke enter the bloodstream,” leaving very little THC in the surrounding air to be inhaled and absorbed by a passive inhaler.
In order to get secondhand high, you would need to be in an unventilated room for some time to feel anything, otherwise the cannabinoids will have disappeared into the air before even reaching you.
When considered together, this and the 2015 Johns Hopkins study show you would need to be in an unventilated room for some time to feel anything. More than likely, though, the cannabinoids will have disappeared into the air before even reaching you.
Are there any other studies on secondhand highs?
Studies performed during the mid- to late-1980s investigating the mystery of the secondhand high determined that the acute toxicity of cannabis was extremely low, therefore making it difficult to feel the effects without direct inhalation. While their conclusions may still apply, cannabis has changed over the years and the studies may need reexamination.
The THC potency of cannabis has increased as cultivation techniques and technologies have advanced. In the early 1970s, the average joint contained roughly 10 mg of THC, whereas a modern joint may contain 60-150 mg of THC or more. The THC potency in today’s marijuana flowers is far greater than the weed from the 1960s and 1970s, therefore much of the early research produced from studying secondhand highs may be outdated.
While there’s an abundance of research demonstrating the adverse health effects of secondhand exposure to cigarette smoke, there is little evidence to suggest that secondhand marijuana smoke carries the same detrimental health risks as tobacco smoke. Considering that past research has found marijuana smoke to be less carcinogenic than cigarette smoke , there’s doesn’t seem to be an immediate public health concern regarding secondhand weed smoke. That being said, as long as you’re not stuck in a poorly ventilated room during a heavy smoke session, you shouldn’t be concerned about feeling stoned or having THC enter your system.
Can you get high from smelling weed in the air or walking through the remnants of secondhand weed smoke? No, it’s highly unlikely you’ll experience a secondhand high or have cannabis byproducts show up on a drug screening. As the 2015 Johns Hopkins University research study shows, in order to catch a secondhand high, you’d have to be under extreme conditions and lack proper ventilation.
Nonetheless, weed smokers should still be respectful of people who don’t consume cannabis. The next time you spark one up, try to be aware of your surroundings and make an attempt to keep the smoke and strong odor away from non-smokers. To enjoy a smooth smoking session without affecting your non-partaking neighbors, cannabis users should spark up in well-ventilated areas to ensure passive inhalers will not feel the effects of the smoke or test positive for weed.
Ever wonder if you can get high from smelling weed? Learn if you can really get a secondhand high.