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.
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.
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.
According to a 2015 Johns Hopkins University study — the answer is both yes and no.
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.
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.
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?
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 .
Ever wonder if you can get high from smelling weed? Learn if you can really get a secondhand high.