The researchers gave each of the six smokers 10 marijuana cigarettes, each containing 1 gram of high-potency weed, and instructed them to smoke at their leisure for the hour while the six non-smokers sat by their side in the chamber.
“If you’re going to breathe in enough passive cannabis smoke to feel high and potentially be slightly impaired, you could fail a drug test,” said Evan S. Herrmann, the study’s lead author and postdoctoral fellow in psychiatry and behavioral sciences at Johns Hopkins School of Medicine. “But this only happens under a very extreme situation.”
Ideally, the study would have had a placebo group, in which nonsmokers were exposed to smoke without THC. This would have helped the researchers determine whether the feeling of being high was due to the marijuana or simply a placebo effect, from being exposed to smoke.
People who are exposed to secondhand marijuana smoke may feel a bit of the “high” that comes with using the drug, a new study finds. They may also feel unable to think clearly, and they may even have detectable levels of the drug in their urine or blood. But all of this happens only if they are exposed to marijuana smoke under severely unventilated conditions, the study found.
Cannabis is the world’s most commonly used illicit drug. It is often smoked in small, enclosed spaces with poor ventilation, according to the study.
But the unventilated room is not representative of most real-life situations, the researchers said. “We modeled the worst-case scenario,” Herrmann said. “You are in an enclosed room for an hour with 15 grams of cannabis being smoked.”
“This new study probes a question people have been wondering forever,” said Ziva Cooper, an assistant professor of clinical neurobiology at Columbia University, who was not involved in this research. “Do people actually get high from these ‘hot box’ effects? And if so, does it change your capabilities or cause you to fail a drug test?”
During one test session, the room’s ventilation system was switched on, allowing air to flow in and out at a standard office-building rate. In the other session, the researchers restricted the airflow in the chamber. After the 60 minutes, each participant completed a series of biological, cognitive and subjective surveys and tasks at regular intervals for up to 34 hours after exposure. [11 Odd Facts About Marijuana]
“Our results are pretty consistent with what we expected,” Herrmann said. The new findings confirm “it’s really hard to get a positive [drug test result] from passive smoke unless you’re in an extreme scenario,” he said.
People who breathe in a lot of secondhand marijuana smoke could test positive on a drug test, a new study finds.