Is A “Contact High” A Real Thing?

Is contact high a real thing?  To follow this question, you must first understand what a ‘contact high’ is.  A contact high is when an otherwise sober person comes into close proximity to or interacts with someone who has been using marijuana. There have been claims of contact highs from people who were around marijuana. It could have been at a party or even at a concert. The question then becomes, is a contact high a real thing? Wikipedia, which is used by a lot of people as a reference point, classifies contact high a result of psychological perception.

All evidence points to a contact high being a psychological phenomenon.  According to the National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA), a contact high is a psychological phenomenon. It is actually possible to get high from inhaling exhaled marijuana smoke, but that is only under extreme conditions.  These extreme conditions would have to be someone who exhales the cannabis directly onto your face, and they would have to exhale copious amounts of it.

What does that mean?

Research shows that unlike tobacco whose, second-hand smoke is still laden with the active ingredient nicotine, weed smoke is a lot different.  Very little THC, which is the active ingredient in cannabis, is released back into the air when a smoker exhales.  It so little in fact, that according to the NIDA website, you could sit in a room while people smoked four joints in an hour and you would still not get high.  You would have to be in a room with people smoking about 16 joints before you start showing signs of being high.

Is this dangerous?

The jury is still out on whether this could be dangerous.  There is still not enough research as to how prolonged exposure to cannabis smoke affects you.  This also includes the effects of living with a regular cannabis user.  The higher THC content of today’s cannabis is also something that we need to consider.

Research done on rats has shown that secondhand cannabis smoke did as much damage to their hearts and blood vessels as tobacco smoke.  This research has, however, not been conducted on humans.  It is also known that weed smoke contains some of the harmful chemicals that cause cancer.  Most of these are also found in tobacco smoke.  Scientists, however, do not comprehensively know how it affects your health in the long run.

Can you fail a drug test?

The likelihood of you failing a drug test from secondhand cannabis smoke is very slim.  We have already established that the amount of THC exhaled by weed smokers is so low that it would take a lot of secondhand smoke to get you high.  This is also true with drug tests.

In a study done in 2010, researchers tried to find out the effect of secondhand weed smoke on non-smokers.  They put the non-smokers in a well-ventilated room together with people who were smoking cannabis for 3 hours. Urine tests showed that although THC was present, it was well below the amount needed to fail a drug test.

The verdict:

So there you have it, a contact high is possible but under very unusual circumstances.  Want to chill with your buddies as they blaze joint after joint?  Go right ahead, the effect on you will be negligible.

High There
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