Contact High from Cannabis: How Does it Happen?

Imagine you are at a party or a room with your dear friends and suddenly a joint is ignited then smoke. Your mind starts to wonder, what if I inhaled the smoke, will I get high? Does contact high exist? Will I become addicted by just inhaling all that second-hand smoke? You are reading the correct article, we will answer all of those questions for you.

Contact High at a Glance

Contact high or widely known as secondhand high is a belief that secondhand smoke or exposure to cannabis smoke can get a person euphorically high and leave or induce a person with THC in their bodies. For people who do not smoke weed, this may become a root of panic and distress. This leads to questions like: Can I fail a drug test when exposed to cannabis smoke? Can I get accidentally high if I inhale too much smoke?

These questions are valid and reasonable, to answer those, you have to know how a high starts.

Presence of THC in the Air and Environment

When a pot session is conducted, smoke and vapor are inhaled which then enters the system and is absorbed by the lungs as well as the bloodstream. However, the question is, how much THC is absorbed by the body? That depends on the type of weed you use and the frequency of the usage of weed.

When the research was conducted in 1999 by The British Journal of Anesthesia, they have proven that an estimated amount of 50% of THC and other cannabinoids that are contained in weed can enter the system by inhalation and direct smoking. 

The amount may vary depending on the smoking style of the user, if a user inhales the smoke deeply and releases the smoke a few seconds after, it is proven that higher amounts of the THC are absorbed by the body. So to answer the question, there is a possibility that THC can enter your bloodstream with just secondhand smoke, and yes, you may get stoned afterward.

So 50% doesn’t worry you too much because it does not sound too much. But a new study found out that it could be even less than 50%. In 2005, a study entitled “Pharmacokinetics of cannabinoids” has resulted in the conclusion that the THC in a cannabis plant may vary between 0.3% to 30%. So in short, the body absorbs an average of 30% when it comes to THC.

If all based on these studies that were made, cannabis smoke cannot provide a 100% absorption of THC or any cannabinoid materials found in weed plants. However, the frequency of usage and the duration of every session may still be a factor to consider when it comes to absorption. There is also a huge possibility that exhaled cannabis smoke still contains THC since not all of the THC present in that inhaled smoke is not absorbed by the body completely.

Now that we know that exhaled cannabis smoke which is considered secondhand smoke still contains THC or cannabinoids, is this enough to get someone high? Or will this affect an impending drug test?

The Presence of THC in the Bloodstream

Studies in the 1980s already investigated the issues regarding contact high or secondhand high. But since the strains of weed improved in potency as years went by, these researches already became irrelevant today. However, there are new studies today that can still be referred to.

If you are in a room or at a party that has proper ventilation and suddenly someone smokes weed, you do not have to leave the room or even ruin the party. Here’s why.

In the study entitled “Non-Smoker Exposure to Secondhand Cannabis Smoke II,” they have proven the difference when it comes to exposure to cannabis smoke in a ventilated room versus an enclosed minimal to nonexistent ventilation. The research was conducted by inviting 12 participants which consist of 6 weed smokers and 6 non-smokers.

They started the test by placing all the participants in an unventilated room where cannabis smokers were given 10 joints with a THC level of 11.3% each that they need to finish within 1 hour. These joints were consumed around the room along with the nonsmokers (imagine the agony of these nonsmokers) over 1 hour. Afterward, all the participants were instructed to exit the room and had them discard their clothing and had their hands and faces washed then placed them in a holding area for assessment.

A second experiment was conducted with the same setup but with a twist, the room was now well ventilated.

The research resulted in shocking findings between the two tests. The first test concluded that the nonsmoking subjects who were unventilated had THC levels that are detectable in urine and blood tests. Also, they have concluded that participants in the unventilated room experienced a minor heart rate increase. Behavioral euphoric effects were also present from minor to moderate.

To sum up the first study, a nonsmoker can get relatively high if exposed to cannabis smoke in a non ventilated room. And will also result in absorbing THC in their bloodstream.

The second study made a shocking revelation. The research concluded that the non-smokers in a ventilated room did not show any signs of euphoric high, change in behavior and most of all did not have any trace of THC or cannabinoids in their system. This is after the urine and blood test that was conducted 30 minutes after the exposure to secondhand smoke.

Summary: Contact High

After all the studies, tests, and researches regarding this matter, it is already proven that contact high is true, but considering the tests that were made, you do not have to worry if the room or party you are in is well ventilated. If you enter an enclosed area, that is another story, if you are a nonsmoker, it’s best if you avoid it because you will immediately experience the effects caused by the weed.

With that said, as a user and smoker of cannabis, be considerate and also be responsible. If someone is in the room that does not smoke the way you do, it’s best if you smoke elsewhere as a sign of mutual respect. Keep it away from your children and loved ones.