It’s been a dry summer for much of the United States, leading to an increase in wildfires that can’t easily be fought due to droughts in areas like California. But what happens when a wildfire spreads to a cannabis field? Would the ensuing blaze result in an impressive contact high for anyone in the surrounding area?
Well, there was that one time an Indonesian police force burned a bonfire’s worth of illicit drugs in West Jakarta and the resulting fumes made the locals a little headachey, but did they actually get high, meaning they experienced the psychoactive effects from the activated THC? Live Science wanted to find out the answer, so they did some research into the subject.
The website reached out to Ryan Vandrey, associate professor in the Department of Psychiatry and Behavioral Sciences at Johns Hopkins University, to determine whether burning cannabis grows can get nearby citizens high. Vandrey cited a study he published in the Drug and Alcohol Dependence journal that examined the effects of secondhand cannabis smoke on a non-consumer.
While THC from secondhand cannabis smoke can build up in a non-consumer’s body and result in that person feeling somewhat intoxicated, it’s not typically enough THC to get the non-consumer high unless that person is confined to a room without ventilation that’s full of cannabis smoke.
Said Vandrey to Live Science:
“We evaluated the conditions under which you’d need to be to get intoxicated from secondhand smoke exposure, and it needs to be very extreme.”
His team tested the “secondhand high” theory by confining 12 volunteers in a small room outfitted with an air conditioner. Half of them smoked joints, and the resulting smoke filtered out and prevented the rest of the group from truly getting “hotboxed.” So basically, if it’s difficult to get high from secondhand cannabis smoke in a small but decently ventilated enclosure, the chances of getting hotboxed outside adjacent to a cannabis grow that’s caught on fire are very slim.
Should you actually come across a burning cannabis field, your course of action should not be to get as close as possible in an effort to catch a free buzz — you could end up causing damage to your lungs and eyes from the acrid mix of burning materials. Hat tip to Live Science for busting this myth!