Studies indicate that you can’t get high from second-hand marijuana smoke

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Being around marijuana smokers may not be as unhealthy as previously thought

There has been a lot of controversy surrounding marijuana and whether or not “contact highs” are possible. While earlier research indicated that there might be risks associated with second-hand marijuana smoke, recent studies seem to refute the position and indicate that there is virtually no evidence that being exposed to second-hand smoke will result in individuals getting high.

Over 30 years ago, a study put five non-smokers and five smokers in a car with closed doors and windows. The smokers consumed marijuana and tests were conducted on the non-smokers to determine what level, if any, of marijuana was found. The tests revealed that small amounts of tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) were present in the blood and urine of the non-smokers. However, the THC amount was not strong enough to cause non-smokers to experience the high sensation.

Jumping ahead 30 years, marijuana cultivation has advanced to the point where the THC content is now 14% compared to the 4% seen during the time when the previous tests were conducted. This may lead some to believe that contact highs are possible, but this is still not true.

Cecilia J. Hillard is a pharmacology professor and the director of the Neuroscience Research Center at the Medical College of Wisconsin. In an interview with Business Insider, she asserted, “The ‘contact high’ is purely a psychological phenomenon,” adding that there is “little residual THC is present in exhaled air.” She further states that some “may experience runny noses or itchy eyes from the smoke,” but that the smoke won’t be enough to cause a “high.”

Her position was supported by clinical pharmacologist Dr. André Marais. He said, “The effects of second-hand cannabis intake would, in my opinion, be similar to that of cigarette smoking … You will basically inhale hydrocarbons and not necessarily the active ingredient THC.”