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Weed Republic

Can You Get High From Secondary Smoke

cannabis plant marijuana
Have you ever wondered if you could get high from secondhand smoke? Or perhaps you're wondering if you can fail a drugs test? Myths regarding both of these common questions are often spread around, worrying those with upcoming drug tests, or simply tossed around the workplace to put employees on edge. However, never fear, Weed Republic is here! 

Second-hand smoke myth: can you get high from smelling weed?

yoda smell weed...and who could argue with Yoda? Photo: @tighthelluv
It’s a common scenario: you’re walking down the street and your nose is suddenly alerted to the smell of weed. You may be worried that you could get a “Contact High.” Although many weed smokers would love for this to be true, it’s nearly impossible to get high unless you’re staying in a hazy room for an entire evening. It’s almost certainly impossible to get high from simply smelling weed while walking down the street, so don’t worry about that.

How much THC do you need to get high?

joint blunt marijuana

Just how many joints did you say you need? Photo: @tchzen

This will depend on the person, but you don’t need a lot of THC to feel high. For example, they have disposable cartridges in California that are only about 1-2% THC, but 10% CBD. Even this tiny amount of THC is enough to make you feel a little bit high. This is where the idea that you can get high from second-hand smoke comes from. You can’t really just get high from second-hand smoke unless you’ve sat in what is known as a hot box. So while you don't need to ingest a lot of THC to get high, you're chances of getting high from secondhand smoke are highly unlikely; you'd basically need someone blowing smoke directly into your face for a few hours at a time.

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

drug test boss
It was worth a shot anyway... Photo: @poppy.abuelos
This is technically possible, however, it’s highly unlikely that you would fail a drug test from second-hand smoke. A study showed that this is only really possible if you take a drugs test 30 minutes after inhaling marijuana smoke. If you turn up to a drugs test 30 minutes after attending a big sesh with your mates (even without partaking), then the least of your worries is actually failing the test, considering you’d probably smell like the inside of a Dutch coffee shop.

How long does second-hand smoke stay in your system for?

As mentioned previously, second-hand smoke only stays in your system for around 30 minutes.

Can you fail a marijuana hair drugs test because of second-hand smoke?

hair drug test weedFast facts from @hairdrugdetox
A major cause of concern for stoners and non-stoners alike is that they could fail a hair drug test due to being around second-hand smoke. That is because there have actually been reports of people failing hair follicle drugs tests due to second-hand smoke. However, the worry is relatively low, because not many employers will do these tests, as they’re the most expensive type of drug test. The only way to ensure you’re not going to fail a drugs test because of second-hand smoke is pretty obvious, really: don’t stand near a bunch of stoners while you’re applying for a job! This is especially true if the job is something like operating heavy machinery, because they’re the most likely to do hair drug tests.

How to inhale weed and do you need to inhale weed to get high?

This is the age-old question. You simply put the blunt or joint to your mouth, take a long toke, hold it in until you cough your guts up, then let it out. This is the only real way to inhale weed. You can also share a joint by doing something called “shotgunning” in the US or a blow-back in the UK. There are many ways to get high from smoking weed, so you don’t actually have to inhale it to get high. For a tutorial of this, simply check out the videos above and below.

What are dabs?

Dabs are also known as
  • Concentrates
  • BHO or Butane Hash Oil
  • Eerl
  • Shatter
  • Wax
  • Earwax
  • Honeycomb
  • Honey
  • Crumble
  • Green
  • Honey Oil

dab shatter marijuana

That's some beautiful shatter! Photo: @dabshatter710

Dabs are a concentrated dose of cannabis. They are made by extracting cannabinoids from the plant using a solvent such as butane or carbon dioxide. The result is a sticky oil, which are called dabs, wax, shatter, budder, and butane hash oil or BHO. They are put onto a hot surface that's normally made from metal, and then they're inhaled from a dab rig. Smoking dabs has been popular for around the last 10 years, but recently they have become both more potent and more popular. A fair warning to anyone interested in dabbing: the science isn't really out on dabs yet, and the idea that heating a concentrate at an incredibly high temperature and then inhaling all of the byproducts is safe almost has to be false.

Do dabs smell? 

shatter weed concentrate dabCheck out this beautiful sheet of dabs! Photo: @diaryofstoners

Short answer: Yes.

Long answer: Yes, dabs do smell! They actually smell even danker than your standard flower. However, the good thing about dabs is that the smell disappears a lot quicker than flower. So although after the original dab hit there will be a pretty big smell, it will be gone very quickly as well.

Do dabs or wax show up on a drugs test?

Dabs, wax, shatters, etc. contain THC. This means that you can easily fail a drugs test if you smoke a dab or if you have some wax. It’s recommended that you don’t smoke any dabs if you have a drugs test coming up.

How long do dabs stay in your system for? 

smoke marijuana weed

Which way do you prefer to catch your high? Photo: @nizamabad_ocd

Dabs are composed of THC, normally far more THC than your bog-standard flower. This causes a problem, as the more THC inside a product, the longer said THC will take to be fully broken down. This means that the higher % concentrates, such as dabs, will most likely stay in your system for longer than smoking flower. 

How does weed affect you?

kush nug marijuana

Check out this tasty bowl of goodies! Photo: @weedweare
Weed is like a cuddly, warm hug after a long day at work. Sativas give you a euphoric head high, which feels a bit like alcohol, but less invasive and less strong (depending on potency). Indicas are much more centered around the body, and feel like a warm hug. They will also help you sleep. Hybrids are the most popular type of weed these days, and feel like both of these highs at the same time. The combination of a sativa and indica into a hybrid, can make you feel incredibly relaxed whilst also giving you a head-rush. Weed has the following effects: 
  • Gives you a relaxed sense of contentedness
  • Heightened senses, vivid colours
  • Change your perception of time
  • It can either make you feel anxious or take away anxiety
  • Audio hallucinations are very common

Dab weed effects

crystal dab kush marijuana

What beautiful, crystal goodness is this? Photo: @errlfunkman
Dabs are far more potent that your standard flower. Dabs, also known as wax, shatter, or concentrates, and they can range anywhere between 30% THC to 99% THC. This considerably more potent form of cannabis gives you a much more potent high, and as mentioned previously, it most likely stays in your system for much longer. It is a really bad idea, if you have a drugs test coming up, to hit a dab.
For those of you who don’t have a drugs test coming up, dabs can provide a great way for to get high. They're highly potent, meaning it can hit those hard-to-reach spots that certain illnesses and disabilities bring with them. Take depression, which is notoriously difficult to treat, as an example. If weed works for you as a medicine, but you need a little more assistance, then dabs could be your answer. Please note: weed and certainly not dabs is/are not a catch-all. It works wonders for some people, but THC is not for everyone. If you’ve tried THC and it hasn’t helped with your symptoms, then it’s strongly recommended that you give CBD a try. CBD is a completely different cannabinoid to THC, and doesn’t really make you feel high. It’s like the medicinal benefits of weed, without the sometimes unwanted, potent, high.

What happens when you fail a drugs test? 

If you’ve just failed a drugs test and you’re wondering what to do next, we have some bad and good news for you. Unfortunately, you're most likely not going to get the job that you’ve just applied for. This can be incredibly disappointing to find out, but you really do only have yourself to blame (unless it was a false positive test). Luckily, no-one else except the Medical Review Officer, the human resources department, and yourself will know that you failed the test. This means that although you won’t get that job, it won’t stop you from getting other jobs in the future. Although this slightly archaic system can be frustrating for job hunters, it is understandable that in some professions employers don’t want their employees to be high. It can be frustrating for responsible stoners who know how to separate their toking from their work lives, but this just comes with the territory of being a stoner. If you don’t like negative connotations that society has constructed, go drink a beer.

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

As mentioned previously, you would have to take the test within 30 minutes of being around the smoke. This basically means that if you’ve got a drugs test at 1 am in the morning after a concert, you could fail. You shouldn’t worry too much about failing a drugs test because of second-hand smoke; it’s highly unlikely, no matter how smoky the venue might have been!

Blood testing marijuana

Does weed show up in blood work? Yes. Cannabis is detectable in the blood for around 12-24 hours. However, with frequent use, it can stay in the system for up to 7 days. Blood testing for marijuana is fairly unpopular for potential employers. This is because you have to get an actual blood sample, which some people really don’t like to give, and employers are hesitant to use this rather invasive method. Blood testing for marijuana is normally used for accidents, injuries, and for driving under the influence tests. Blood contains both THC-COOH (the metabolite that is left behind from the use of cannabis) and also actual THC. Hence, a marijuana blood test is searching for both THC and THC-COOH. The amount of THC-COOH and THC in your system depends on the amount of cannabis you’ve smoked recently and on your body fat percentage.

Vape drug test

nicotine test drug

The results are in... Photo: @dunkyoo
There is only one real application of a vape drug test: it's used to test whether or not someone has nicotine in their system. This doesn’t really have any practical implications for potential employers, and no employer is really going to care if you do have nicotine in your system. However, if you’re simply wanting to see whether someone who claims to have quit smoking has actually quit or not, then this could be a useful product. A nicotine drug test will find out whether someone has been vaping or smoking nicotine. They could be used in rehab centres, or by slightly crazy family members who are desperate for someone in their family to quit smoking.

wax cartridge marijuana smokeNo shortage of variety to find your high! Photo: @medicinal_section

The other application would be a testing kit to see whether or not your vape pens are contaminated with pesticides, or other contaminants. This can be useful for those who want to ensure that the vapour they’re inhaling is relatively safe. Regardless of whether or not said pens do contain pesticides, you’re still inhaling very dangerous chemicals when you smoke these THC dab pens.


We hope this comprehensive overview has proven helpful and assuaged some worries we commonly hear from tokers! The bottom line is second-hand smoke would have to be pretty intense for it to negatively affect your drug tests, and failing a drug test is possible for anyone who smokes. If you're responsible, are mindful of the type of THC you're consuming, and time it right, you won't have anything to worry about. Worst case scenario, you fail a test and don't land the job: just remember that things happen for a reason and there will be something else out there for you! 


What has your experience with second hand smoke and/or drug tests been? Do you have more questions? Answers? Share your thoughts in the comments below! 

Megan Medeiros Written by Megan Medeiros (BA)

Megan Medeiros has a bachelor’s degree in English and is currently working on a master’s in English at James Madison University. She's the owner and operator of Medeiros Writing, and has been working as a cannabis writer for the past three years, mostly following the legal climate of marijuana, especially in areas like California, Colorado, Oregon, Canada, and other legal areas.

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