Key takeaways.

  • Does a weed hangover exist?

    Based on anecdotal evidence, weed hangovers exist for some people but not for others. But don’t worry — the symptoms are mild and transient.

  • How does a weed hangover compare to alcohol?

    If an alcohol hangover is feeling like you’ve been hit by a train, then smoking weed is like having your shin bashed in by child on a bicycle.

  • What are the symptoms of a weed hangover, if you get them at all?

    The symptoms associated with a weed hangover are brain fog, lethargy, fatigue, dry mouth, and at worst, headache or nausea.

A spinning head, a stomach that does backflips, a raging headache, and typing “I’m never drinking again” into your WhatsApp chat group while squinting and hiding from the stream of sunlight coming through the window. These are the signs that your liver had to process a couple of tequilas too many the night before — a walk of shame of sorts that all of us have done at some point.

But the weed hangover — is it a thing?

Some people will swear black and blue that they feel less than optimum after a night smoking weed while others would resist that idea completely. There are plenty of people out there who feel perfectly normal the day after waking up from a cannabis experience.

It doesn’t help that it’s been over 30 years since the last time someone bothered to study the morning-after effects of cannabis. Alcohol hangovers, on the other hand, are so common, there’s literally a set of protocols by which researchers can best set up experiments to measure hangovers. 

If a weed hangover exists, what does it feel like? It certainly doesn’t look like an alcohol hangover or the “comedown” associated with other drugs. In this article, we’re looking at what the likelihood is that a weed hangover exists, and if it does, what its symptoms might be like.

Is a weed hangover real?

A collage art of a cow with a weed leaf in its mouth, standing in a stream surrounded by rocks, logs, and moss.
@sarahsflorastand

Unfortunately, the most recent science we have to go off is from 1990. It was a study conducted on 12 healthy cannabis users. Each of them were evaluated over two weekends. On one lucky weekend, they received “40 standardised puffs” of cannabis — whatever that means. On the other, unlucky weekend, they received 40 standardised puffs of cannabis with 0 THC. Each morning after smoking, they received a barrage of tests for psychomotor control and cognitive function. The researchers found no residual intoxication the day after smoking and concluded that using cannabis wasn’t associated with any kind of weed hangover.

It’s a shame nobody has bothered to recreate this experiment in the modern day, because we’re sure it would tell us a lot. What this study couldn’t have ever accounted for was the cosmic leap in THC percentages that cannabis would make in the three decades between 1990 and now.

The study was conducted in Chicago while cannabis was still very much illegal. It occurred 6 years before the first American cannabis law reform in California in 1996. So it’s likely that average cannabis THC levels were still hovering around the 3%-5% range.

Now, the average piece of bud contains around 14% or 15%. That’s an exponential jump from what the subjects in this study would have consumed. So is that study really applicable? Probably not.

The weed hangover could be a very real thing, especially given how strong cannabis can be in the modern world. Think about it — your average beer or glass of wine might give a person a small buzz, but it’s unlikely they’ll wake up with a hangover. Sink the whole bottle or the whole six-pack and you might be in a different scenario. Perhaps, just like with alcohol, the weed hangover has more to do with how much you consume, rather than consuming at all.

Having said that, we still don’t know what that limit is. And it’s probably different for everybody, the same way the limit with alcohol is also different for everybody. It’s also worth mentioning that in the study, they only experimented with smoked cannabis, not edible cannabis. Edible cannabis is known to be harder hitting and for longer, and could theoretically be more responsible for a weed hangover.

The difference between a weed hangover and cannabis withdrawal.

A collage art depicting two ladies with pug faces holding big pieces of sage - a concept of massive joints and a weed hangover.
@sammisanmiguelgirl

It’s entirely possible that the symptoms of a weed hangover are conflated with the symptoms of cannabis withdrawal — which is a mild, but real thing. While there’s absolutely no evidence that a person remains intoxicated for any more than 8 hours after consumption, there are symptoms associated with quitting cold turkey.

Anxiety, irritability, difficulty sleeping and intense, vivid dreaming are symptoms of cannabis withdrawal. The symptoms are acute (they don’t last very long) and only typically happens to those who have used cannabis for a really long time.

There’s entirely the possibility that the two things have become somewhat confused, but they’re really different. A weed hangover is when you experience symptoms the morning after smoking that subside or resolve the same day. Withdrawal is the result of quitting cold turkey after you’ve been using cannabis for a long time.

If a weed hangover is real, what does it feel like?

A digital artwork of an astronaut floating between two massive cannabis buds.
@fletchcannabis

The most commonly reported symptoms of a weed hangover are lethargy, brain fog, fatigue, dry eyes, and dry mouth. Lesser reported symptoms are headaches and nausea. Feeling a little sleepy and under the weather pretty much sums it up, but it doesn’t usually reach the kinds of heights that cause people to say “I’m never using cannabis again”.

Alcohol takes a great toll on the body. The metabolites of alcohol are harmful to the liver and body, which causes digestive symptoms (vomiting), dehydration (headaches), and a range of other symptoms.  And so a hangover is an expected outcome from drinking too much.

However, no such things have ever been discovered with respect to cannabis. Aside from the potential dangers of smoking to the human body, cannabis isn’t known to cause harm to any organs. Inhaling combusted materials can cause harm, irrespective of what those materials are, but the same can’t be said about edible or vaped cannabis.

The symptoms of a weed hangover could be confounded by other factors such as concurrent drug use, nicotine or tobacco consumption, mixing with alcohol, or simply the fact that a night out means a lot of running around and usually, very little sleep. 

If you experience a weed hangover, remember to give yourself a lot of TLC, drink a lot of water, and eat very nutritious food. Good nutrition and hydration go a long way to clearing up brain fog and bringing you back to the here and now. 

Have you ever experienced a weed hangover? What were your symptoms like and how did you make them go away? And how much did you use to cause the hangover? Let us know your story in the comments!

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