Can You Actually Get a Secondhand High?

The Truth About Hotboxing

We all know that you can experience “secondhand smoke” around people who smoke cigarettes – in other words, you can breathe in tobacco smoke and face the physical effects of smoking without touching a cigarette.

But does it work the same way with weed? Can you get “secondhand high”?


Researchers Asked This Question In 2015 – Here’s What They Learned

A group of researchers wanted to get to the bottom of the secondhand high phenomenon, so they ran a pair of experiments. The 2015 study, which was organized by seven researchers at Johns Hopkins University, gathered twelve participants divided by one factor: six of them were cannabis users, and six of them were not.

In the first experiment, all twelve participants were placed in a small room for a short period of time. The six smokers were given high-potency joints, each with 11.3% THC content, and used them among the non-smokers.

Afterwards, the non-smokers took blood and urine tests, and they tested positive for THC. They also reported feeling “pleasant,” more fatigued, and less alert – all symptoms you may associate with being baked.

The second experiment was almost identical, but the room was ventilated. This time, the non-smokers did not test positive for THC.

So, what does this all mean? The researchers concluded that ventilation is significant to one’s risk of getting high from exposure to secondhand smoke.

They wrote, “under extreme, unventilated conditions, secondhand cannabis smoke exposure can produce detectable levels of THC in blood and urine, minor physiological and subjective drug effects, and minor impairment on a task requiring psychomotor ability and working memory.”


Is This As Harmful As Secondhand Smoke From Cigarettes?

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, plenty of problems arise from secondhand smoke from tobacco. For example, approximately 2,500,000 people who do not smoke have died from health conditions caused by exposure to secondhand smoke.

For that reason, regulations on smoking in public have become stricter over the years. Designated smoking areas, for example, are created to give smokers a separate area where they cannot expose others to secondhand smoke.

If cannabis ever becomes globally legalized, will we see a day when users are required to bundle up in designated pot-smoking areas? Fat chance, according to research.

There isn’t enough research to believe that secondhand exposure to cannabis carries the same danger that exposure to nicotine does. Meanwhile, one 2005 study found that smoke from cannabis is less carcinogenic than cigarette smoke – that means that cannabis may not bring the same level risk of cancer that tobacco does.

Could secondhand smoke from cannabis cause you to fail a drug test? Considering the results of the Johns Hopkins survey we described above, it’s unlikely. You would probably have to be under the right combination of conditions, like extremely poor ventilations, to have THC come up in your bloodstream. Still, you should probably take caution if you are anticipating a drug test.