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Marijuana smoke is created whenever someone burns the leaves, flowers, stems, or seeds of the cannabis plant. Marijuana is used by an average of 26 million Americans per month.

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Smoking it, or being near someone else who is smoking it, does cause side effects. Marijuana contains a chemical called THC, which can block pain and bring on a feeling of relaxation to people who breathe it in or consume it. Smoking weed has depressant, hallucinogenic, and stimulant effects.

Inhaling THC can also impair your ability to concentrate and to operate a car. Drug test can differ for people who are exposed to secondhand marijuana smoke and people who smoked marijuana. Ina small study of six smokers and six nonsmokers showed that marijuana smoked in highly concentrated quantities could trigger a positive urine drug test among people who were simply exposed to the smoke in an unventilated room.

Exposure to secondhand smoke from marijuana is dangerous

However, ventilation during marijuana exposure, as well as how often exposure occurred, were critical factors in what the drug test result would be. For example, smelling marijuana smoke in passing once in a while is a lot different from living with a habitual marijuana smoker who uses marijuana in your presence regularly. Another small study attempted to mimic a more true-to-life example. Rather than stick nonsmokers in a closed, unventilated room for long smoking sessions, these study participants spent three hours in a coffee shop where other patrons were smoking marijuana cigarettes.

Can you really get a secondhand high?

After their exposure to secondhand marijuana smoke, participants were tested for THC. Being near marijuana smoke often and in poorly ventilated areas like a car with the windows rolled up or a small bedroom without a fan may result in feeling a limited amount of the effects that the person smoking experiences.

But catching a whiff of marijuana fragrance through your apartment window or entering a room where people were smoking several hours ago is very unlikely maybe even impossible to affect you at all. According to the American Lung Associationregularly smoking marijuana yourself can damage your lungs and weaken your immune system. And a study on rats showed that just one minute of secondhand marijuana smoke impaired lung function for at least 90 minutes — which is longer than the lungs are affected by tobacco secondhand smoke.

Secondhand marijuana smoke exposes you to many of the same toxic chemicals as smoking it directly does. Because of this, the American Lung association recommends that people avoid exposure to secondhand marijuana smoke.

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Here are some of the other side effects and symptoms of secondhand marijuana smoke exposure. If you have high levels of THC in your blood from secondhand marijuana smoke, it might have the same effect. One effect of the THC in marijuana is the feeling of calmness it gives some users.

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For others, this calmness can take the form of feeling tired or lethargic. Researchers are still trying to understand the connection between excessive marijuana exposure and mental health.

What are the side effects of secondhand marijuana smoke?

It appears that marijuana use can trigger or worsen some mental health conditions, including depression. Contact highs are unlikely but possible, and a contact high can impair your ability to drive and perform other tasks. We need more research to understand how secondhand marijuana smoke compares to other types of secondhand smoke. But we already know that it contains chemicals, tar, and other pollutants that you should try to avoid.

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Can you really get a secondhand high or contact high?

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We break down the limited research and offer tips.

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Medically reviewed by Zara Risoldi Cochrane, Pharm. Contact high Marijuana smoke vs.

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Call it a contact high, a secondhand high, or catching down smoke, but all these phrases are used in reference to the same situation.


Whether you're familiar with the term secondhand high, contact high, or contact buzz, the theory is the same: exposure to secondhand weed smoke may cause someone to be involuntarily stoned and even fail a drug test.


The room is filled with smoke and you start to wonder, will I get a contact high from weed?


Research studies show that when a cannabis smoker exhales, they breathe a very small amount of tetrahydrocannabinol THC back in the air.