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Secondhand Marijuana Smoke

Secondhand Marijuana Smoke

Marijuana also known as weed, pot, and various other names is a psychoactive drug that is derived from the cannabis plant.

Medicinal marijuana is used in several states, but there has been a more recent push to legalize recreational marijuana as well. With more states following suit, you will likely come in contact with more marijuana regardless of whether or not you are consuming it yourself.

With more and more people across the United States able to smoke marijuana with fewer restrictions, you may be wondering if you can get a secondhand high. Our Pompano treatment center is clearing up the confusion on secondhand marijuana smoke.

Can You Get High from Secondhand Marijuana Smoke?

Getting high from secondhand smoke of marijuana is possible, but usually not to a large extent. Whether or not someone will get any sort of contact high from marijuana depends on several factors such as the strength of the THC, the ventilation of the area, how long their exposure is, and how close they were to the marijuana smoke.

One study on police officers who were in areas of high marijuana smoke exposure found that while the majority of air samples tested positive for THC, most of the police officers were not affected.1 While 31% reported burning or itchy eyes and 21% dry mouth, the majority of officers reported no symptoms.1  Although they may have had extended exposure, these officers were in an open air stadium, which is likely the reason most were unaffected. Not surprisingly then, hotboxing or smoking weed in a small, enclosed space so that the smoke fills the air, comes with a high risk of secondhand high.

Secondhand Marijuana Smoke Effects

Those who do have a good amount of exposure may start to feel the symptoms of the secondhand marijuana smoke.

Secondhand marijuana smoke effects can include:

  • Red eyes
  • Itchy or burning eyes
  • Dry mouth
  • Headache or lightheadedness
  • Coughing
  • Increased appetite
  • Increased heart rate
  • Anxiety
  • Feelings of relaxation or euphoria

Can You Test Positive for Marijuana from Secondhand Smoke?

Whether or not you test positive for marijuana from secondhand smoke will depend on your exposure.  Those who hotbox a car with marijuana will likely test positive. In contrast, passing contact with secondhand marijuana smoke is not likely to have any effect.

Although police officers in the study mentioned previously were in contact with marijuana smoke, only 34% had trace amounts of a chemical marker for THC in their urine. In fact, the amount was so small that most would not result in a positive drug test.1 Another study found that non-smokers who had an hour of exposure to people smoking marijuana lead to mixed drug test results. Those who were not in well-ventilated areas were more likely to test positive in a urine drug test.2

As many argue for the legalization of recreational marijuana, there are some other important things to note. While not a frequent problem, marijuana can be addictive for some people. There is some evidence to suggest that it is a gateway drug. It may be best to avoid putting yourself at risk by avoiding this drug altogether.

If you have already developed an addiction to marijuana or another drug, get help. As a PHP treatment center in Broward County, we provide patients with the support and structure they need to find lasting recovery from their substance abuse problems.

To learn more about our addiction treatment programs at Banyan Pompano, do not wait to reach out for help. Contact us today at 888-280-4763.


  1. CDC- Evaluation of Police Officers’ Exposure to Secondhand Cannabis Smoke at Open-air Stadium Events
  2. NCBI- Non-Smoker Exposure to Secondhand Cannabis Smoke. I. Urine Screening and Confirmation Results
Alyssa, Director of Digital Marketing
Alyssa, Director of Digital Marketing
Alyssa is the National Director of Digital Marketing and is responsible for a multitude of integrated campaigns and events in the behavioral health and addictions field. All articles have been written by Alyssa and medically reviewed by our Chief Medical Officer, Dr. Darrin Mangiacarne.
Secondhand Marijuana Smoke
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