Can you get a contact high from THC

It's a Friday night and you find yourself in a room where someone is smoking marijuana. The sweet, pungent aroma fills the air, and you can't help but inhale it. You're not smoking yourself, but you wonder, are you're getting a contact high from secondhand marijuana smoke?


THC, or tetrahydrocannabinol, is the psychoactive component of the cannabis plant. When marijuana or other THC products like Delta 8 is smoked, THC enters the bloodstream, causing the characteristic "high" associated with cannabis use. The impacts range from euphoria and relaxation to increased sensory perception and altered time perception.


However, what happens when you're merely in the vicinity? Do you feel the effects of secondhand marijuana smoke, not actively smoking yourself? This is where the concept of a 'contact high' comes into play.


A contact high is the idea that you can experience the effects of THC - the increased relaxation, the altered sensory perception - merely from being exposed to secondhand marijuana smoke. But can you really get a contact high from THC?


Defining a Contact High: What it is and What it isn't

A 'contact high' is often defined as feeling the effects of THC without actually smoking marijuana yourself, but by simply inhaling secondhand cannabis smoke.


The possibility of a contact high has long been a point of contention and curiosity among cannabis smokers. However, the reality may not be as straightforward as it seems. You might find yourself feeling different in a room full of marijuana smokers, but is it really a contact high?


Scientifically, getting a contact high from THC involves the THC in secondhand marijuana smoke entering your bloodstream and reaching your brain, where it can then produce psychoactive effects. However, whether this can actually happen in real-world scenarios is a different question.


Because so many factors come into play, including the concentration of THC in the smoke, the ventilation of the room, and the duration of exposure it is hard to say definitively.


The Science Behind Contact Highs 

the science behind contact highs

Understanding the concept of second-hand smoke

Secondhand smoke refers to the smoke exhaled by a smoker or released from the burning end of a joint, pipe, or bong. When it comes to marijuana, smoke contains not just harmless water vapor and plant particles, but also psychoactive THC, and potentially harmful substances like tar and other cannabis byproducts. Being exposed to indirect marijuana smoke means that you're inhaling these substances, including THC, into your lungs.


However, the THC concentration in secondhand smoke is much lower than what a marijuana smoker would inhale directly. A study done by the British Journal of Anesthesia completed in 1999 concluded that roughly "50% of the THC and other cannabinoids present in a cannabis cigarette enter the mainstream smoke and are inhaled" This is because a substantial portion of the THC burns away or is absorbed by the smoker's lungs.


So, while you might be inhaling some amount of THC from secondhand smoke, it's significantly less than what a person smoking marijuana directly would get.


Investigating the possibility of a contact high from THC

Luckily the possibility of getting a buzz from THC in secondhand marijuana smoke has been the subject of scientific investigation. In poorly ventilated areas or enclosed spaces with heavy marijuana smoke for a long period, non-smokers have reported feeling psychoactive effects or mild impairment.


Some studies have even found detectable amounts of THC in the blood and urine of non-smokers after extreme exposure scenarios. However, such conditions are far from typical.


Under most real-world circumstances, the amount of THC in secondhand smoke is unlikely to be large enough to cause a contact high. In fact, a 2015 study called "Non-smoker exposure to cannabis smoke" found that even in a small room with six smokers and six nonsmokers, the non-smokers did not experience impairment or test positive on a urine screening after three hours of exposure to secondhand smoke.


Exploring the Myths and Facts of Contact Highs

myths and facts about contact highs

Common misconceptions about contact highs from Delta 9

There are plenty of myths about getting a secondhand high from THC like Delta 8 and Delta 9. Some people believe that just being around marijuana smokers or inhaling secondhand marijuana smoke is enough to feel the effects or even fail a urine test.


However, the science tells a different story. Another 2020 study confirms that yes, secondhand marijuana smoke does contain THC, but in most typical drug use scenarios, the amount you'd inhale as a non-smoker is unlikely to be enough to cause a passive buzz or result in a positive drug test result. So, unless you are hot boxing for extended periods of time you don't need to worry. 


Another common misconception is that secondhand marijuana smoke is just as potent as direct smoke. This isn't the case. Most of the THC in secondhand marijuana smoke carries what is inhaled directly by the smoker, and what's left in the secondhand smoke is a much smaller amount.


Moreover, the effects of Delta 9 depend not just on the amount, but also on individual factors like tolerance and metabolism, which vary greatly among people. So even if you're exposed to secondhand marijuana smoke, your experience could be vastly different from someone else's.


What research says about THC and contact highs

Research on contact highs from Delta 9 and Delta 8 is ongoing, and while more research is certainly needed, the consensus so far is that getting a contact buzz from secondhand marijuana smoke under everyday conditions is unlikely.


Studies have found that non-smokers exposed to extreme amounts of secondhand weed smoke in unventilated rooms over a long period can have detectable levels of THC in their blood and urine and may experience mild psychoactive effects. However, such scenarios are far from the norm.


Even in less extreme conditions, such as a poorly ventilated area with heavy marijuana smoke, researchers found that non-smokers did not experience impairment or test positive on a drug test after three hours of exposure. So, while the possibility of a secondhand high can't be entirely ruled out, it's clear that it's far from a given when you're around marijuana smoke.


Potential Impacts of Second-Hand THC Exposureimpacts of secondhand marijuana smoke

Health effects: Is second-hand THC exposure harmful?

While getting a contact buzz from secondhand marijuana smoke may not be a major concern, what about the health effects of being exposed to marijuana or Delta 8 use? Much like cigarette smoke, marijuana smoke contains harmful substances, including tar and other cannabis byproducts.


These substances can pose health risks, particularly with prolonged exposure. For instance, exposure to marijuana smoke has been shown to affect vascular endothelial function in a similar way to tobacco smoke, albeit temporarily.


The health risks associated with secondhand marijuana smoke are likely less severe than those associated with secondhand cigarette smoke. This is due to the lower frequency of those smoking marijuana cigarettes like pre-rolls, joints, or blunts (people typically smoke cigarettes much more frequently than marijuana), and typically lower intensity of the secondhand marijuana smoke.


The fact is that marijuana does not contain some of the harmful substances found in tobacco smoke. Still, if you're a non-smoker, it's a good idea to avoid heavy exposure to any kind of smoke, including marijuana smoke, or even suggest those who are around you try disposable vapes or edibles instead.


The risk of unintentional impairment

While getting full marijuana secondhand smoke exposure or feeling the effects of secondhand marijuana smoke is unlikely under most conditions, there's a slight possibility of slight impairment under extreme conditions.


In a study where non-smokers were exposed to secondhand cannabis smoke in an unventilated room with heavy smoke for a long period, some reported feeling psychoactive effects. However, these effects were mild and temporary and did not lead to a positive drug test.


Situations such as at a party or in an enclosed space in a poorly ventilated room make it a good idea to step outside for some fresh air or move to a better-ventilated area. It's always better to be safe and totally avoid exposing yourself to secondhand THC than sorry when it comes to your health and well-being or if you are worried about a positive drug test result.


can you fail a drug test from a contact high

Can you fail a drug test from second-hand smoke?

One common worry about the presence of marijuana smoke is the potential to fail a drug test. However, most research suggests this is highly unlikely under normal circumstances. Even in studies where non-smokers were exposed to heavy marijuana use or hemp-derived THC in unventilated rooms for several hours, most did not test positive on a standard urine drug screening.


The exception was when extreme conditions were used, such as a small, unventilated room filled with THC smoke over a long period. In these extreme conditions, some non-smokers had detectable amounts of THC in their urine, but this was still below the cutoff levels used for most drug tests.


What you should know about drug tests and THC

Drug tests for marijuana look for a metabolite of THC in your urine or blood. The cutoff levels used by these tests are designed to detect regular or heavy use and drug abuse, not occasional or secondhand exposure. So, even if you're exposed to secondhand weed smoke and some THC makes its way into your system, it's unlikely to be enough to trigger positive drug test results.


Sensitivity can vary and some may detect lower levels of THC. Also keep in mind that the body metabolizes THC slowly, so it can be detectable in urine for days or even weeks after use, depending on various factors like the amount consumed, frequency of use, and individual metabolism. That said, the likelihood of a non-smoker testing positive from a secondhand exposure to marijuana is still very low, except perhaps under the most unrealistic conditions.


If you're subject to regular drug testing for professional reasons, it's a good idea to avoid situations where you might be exposed to heavy secondhand cannabis smoke. Not only will this minimize the already small risk of a positive test result, but it will also prevent any potential for mild impairment, reduced motor skills, or health effects from the smoke.


Can you get a contact high from weed

Conclusion, Can You Get a Contact High from THC?

Ultimately, the science of secondhand THC exposure remains a topic of ongoing research. While the current studies indicate that contact highs are largely a myth, there is potential for slight impairment under certain conditions of smoke-filled, poorly ventilated spaces.


For those subjected to regular drug tests, we suggest avoiding heavy secondhand smoke to minimize your risk even though the chances of testing positive from passive exposure is exceptionally small.


As we continue to navigate the evolving landscape of hemp derived cannabis products, it's crucial to stay informed and make decisions based on sound scientific evidence, not myths. If you are looking for hemp derived Delta 8 or Delta 9 THC products, be sure to check out the large selection of products EverydayDelta offers.



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