Drug test results can differ for people who are exposed to secondhand marijuana smoke and people who smoked marijuana. In 2015, a small study of six smokers and six nonsmokers showed that marijuana smoked in highly concentrated quantities could trigger a positive urine drug test among people who were simply exposed to the smoke in an unventilated room. However, ventilation during marijuana exposure, as well as how often exposure occurred, were critical factors in what the drug test result would be. For example, smelling marijuana smoke in passing once in a while is a lot different from living with a habitual marijuana smoker who uses marijuana in your presence regularly. Another small study attempted to mimic a more true-to-life example.
Rather than stick nonsmokers in a closed, unventilated room for long smoking sessions, these study participants spent three hours in a coffee shop where other patrons were smoking marijuana cigarettes. After their exposure to secondhand marijuana smoke, participants were tested for THC. While a trace amount of THC did show up in their blood and urine, it wasn’t enough to trigger a positive drug test result. It was unlikely that any contact high was passed during this study. With that being said, getting a contact high is possible. Being near marijuana smoke often and in poorly ventilated areas (like a car with the windows rolled up or a small bedroom without a fan) may result in feeling a limited amount of the effects that the person smoking experiences. But catching a whiff of marijuana fragrance through your apartment window or entering a room where people were smoking several hours ago is very unlikely (maybe even impossible) to affect you at all. Weed is aromatic, without a doubt — cannabis is infamous for the strength and variety of its scents.
Typically, the more pungent the aroma, the higher quality of cannabis. Many consumers “follow their noses” to find their favorite cultivars. While we love the delicious smell of each strain's terpene bouquet, sometimes cannabis odors must be kept to a minimum. Cannabis' signature scent comes from compounds inside the plants' trichomes called terpenes , or terpenoids. Terpenes are organic, aromatic compounds that provide the aroma and flavor in cannabis and a variety of other organisms, including plants. Each cultivar has its own unique arrangement of terpenes, and there are more than 200 terpenes in cannabis alone. This is why different cultivars can deliver citrus, pine, coffee, spicy, diesel, herbal and tropical flavors — they each have distinct terpene profiles. Multiple environmental factors contribute to how powerful a cultivar's odor is when you first open the cap. Is your AC running, and how good is the airflow in the room? All of these play a role in how long strong your weed smells throughout the smoking problem. Using different consumption gear can also minimize the strength of your weed's smell. Glassware like a bowl or, even better, a bong produces less stink than a constantly burning joint or blunt. Vapes are even better, as they can burn cannabis at lower temperatures that reduce the smell. However, it's important to keep your gear clean , as a dirty bong or vape can sometimes give off stronger aromas with the buildup of plant matter. Storage also plays a huge role in the strength of your weed's smell. Keep your flower in dark, glass jars in a cool, dark space—not only will this put a literal lid on your flowers' smell, but proper storage also minimizes exposure to light and air degradation. When properly stored, well-grown and well-cured cannabis can maintain its terpenes and cannabinoids up to two years. After a particularly strong-smelling smoke session, you may find yourself needing to minimize the odorous evidence. Helpful deodorizers like Febreeze or scented deodorant will mask the smell, though not eliminate it entirely. Burning incense or scented candles can also keep the smell at bay. In real-time, blowing smoke out of an open window or into an air conditioner vent will help circulate the cannabis smell out of a room. You can also make a blow tube, sometimes called a sploof, to catch the smoke. A sploof is a tube of cardboard with a dryer sheet wrapped around one end that will “catch” and diffuse the smell of weed. Finally, if you need to smoke in stealth mode, make sure to wash any clothes that smell like weed to completely remove the scent. When you burn cannabis, you release additional compounds into the air, including ones that stick to your hair, skin, clothing, and other surfaces. Even if you can't smell it (thanks to the interesting phenomenon called olfactory adaptation , when aromatic molecules bind to the receptors in our noses and prevent us from detecting a specific odor), it's worth it to do a cursory rinsing off of the evidence.
Steven Gans, MD is board-certified in psychiatry and is an active supervisor, teacher, and mentor at Massachusetts General Hospital. Compared to withdrawal symptoms associated with quitting alcohol or other drugs, cannabis (marijuana) withdrawal symptoms are relatively mild, but they are uncomfortable enough to cause many who try to quit to relapse to relieve those symptoms. In other words, marijuana withdrawal symptoms are not life-threatening—their main danger is causing someone who really wants or needs to quit smoking weed to fail.
Answering these 10 questions may help you determine if your marijuana withdrawal symptoms are severe enough to tempt you to relapse if you try to quit. Just as alcoholics who are trying to quit drinking may pick up a drink to relieve the sometimes life-threatening symptoms of alcohol withdrawal, marijuana smokers may light up a joint to relieve the discomfort they experience when they try to stop smoking.