A recurring question, especially if you have to take a cannabis test: Can you get high just in the presence of second-hand smoke?
As a wave of decriminalization and legalization of cannabis emerges, this question becomes more relevant than ever. The fear is to be caught in a cloud of smoke and to be under the effects of cannabis without having wanted to.
This is possibly possible, but only under certain conditions.
Scientists have therefore looked into the matter. Research has investigated the effects of passive cannabis smoke on non-smokers.
This scientific work obviously has its limits. However, there is a consensus that being under the influence of passive cannabis smoke is possible under extreme conditions. It is necessary to have a confined and non-ventilated space.
The effect " Aquarium«
One of the models used by the researchers is that of the effect " Aquarium". This effect is sought by cannabis smokers by deliberately smoking joints in a small space without ventilation. The goal is to increase the effects of cannabis by exposing yourself to a concentrated amount of smoke.
Research in the 80 years
The first research wanted to recreate the conditions ofaquiarium. The aim was to find out whether people who do not smoke directly absorb the active components of cannabis. This was to check how well these molecules could be detected in urine or blood.
Although performed on a few people, studies from the 1980s showed that under these extreme conditions passive participants could absorb enough THC and other cannabinoids to be detected in the blood or urine after a short period following exposure.
Caring for 1986 study also reported that the subjective effects of indirect exposure to 16 “marijuana cigarettes” were similar to those produced by directly smoking a single joint. However, the cannabis of 1986 was up to 10 times weaker than modern cannabis, whether medical or recreational.
An essential factor: the ventilation of the space
This question was recently studied in 2015 at Johns Hopkins University.
Researchers confined groups of six smokers (each receiving ten joints) and six non-smokers in a ventilated, unventilated room, leaving smokers smoking for an hour with non-smokers.
Using a battery of tests after these sessions, the scientists concluded that it is possible to become to be moderately under the influence of cannabis. The essential factor remains the ventilation of the space.
Thus, room ventilation has a pronounced effect on exposure to cannabis smoke for a non-smoker.
Under extreme conditions of no ventilation, occasional exposure to cannabis smoke can produce detectable levels of THC. Physiological effects have been observed. These effects were notable during tasks requiring psychomotor skills and memory.
The authors of the study warn against hasty conclusions! It took specific and "extreme" conditions to produce effects with passive smoke. So the scope of the study may not exactly reflect the real world.
For example, being in a car with the windows closed with a person who smokes cannabis is likely to result in detection. On the other hand, by opening the windows when the seal is consumed, the chances of having a positive result during a screening are very low.
Thus, the size of the room, the amount of cannabis, the length of exposure and its frequency are rarely encountered in reality. Getting high just by inhaling the smoke of your surroundings is therefore hardly possible, unless you do it on purpose.