Are Marijuana Hangovers Real?

By Marie Veksler | January 20, 2015

Being one of the oldest plants known to grow resiliently in diverse environments, it is only natural that cannabis has been used medicinally in many cultures around the world for centuries. Medical marijuana has documented use dating back 10,000 years, and recently it has made a comeback in the world of modern medicine as people are using it again to treat a variety of medical conditions ranging in severity from mild to debilitating.

Contrary to how marijuana is used to treat symptoms of other conditions, overindulging in marijuana may cause unfavorable symptoms of it’s own.

While it may not be a well-scientifically-documented occurrence with only two studies published on the topic, many cannabis users have reported feeling a “weed hangover” after a period of over-consumption. While they are not described with the same level of severity as alcohol hangovers, residual effects from marijuana can produce unpleasant symptoms.

It is impossible to predict exactly what amount of cannabis may cause a person to feel residual effects several hours after consumption because every person’s body processes and metabolizes cannabinoids at different rates. This means that the same strain can produce different effects in different people.

While one person may be able to consume large quantities of cannabis without feeling a hangover, another person may feel residual effects from consuming a small quantity.

What Factors May Increase the Likelihood of Developing a Marijuana Hangover

The amount consumed will always play a huge role in developing unpleasant residual marijuana effects. Overindulgence increases chances.

Marijuana hangovers may also be more likely to develop when eating and digesting marijuana edibles than from vaporizing marijuana flowers. This is true for multiple reasons. First, it is more difficult to gauge the amount being consumed when eating cannabis, and may result in accidental overindulgence.

Also, the body processes the marijuana more slowly through gastrointestinal absorption, and depending on the rate at which it is metabolized, it may remain in a person’s digestive system up to 12 hours. This might even result in still feeling significantly high after a long period of time.

When smoked, delta-9 THC bypasses processing by the liver and directly enters the bloodstream by absorption through the lungs. On the contrary, when ingested THC is metabolized by the liver, changing it from delta-9 THC to 11-hydroxy-THC. When changed to 11-hydroxy-THC, it is absorbed at a slower rate. This causes the effects produced to be more psychedelic. This is also the reason that many medical marijuana patients prefer to ingest cannabis — the effects are often stronger and longer lasting.

When eating marijuana edibles, it is always a good idea to start with a low dose, and expect to wait 1 to 2 hours to feel full effects. Check out this Complete Guide to Marijuana Edibles for more information.

Signs and Symptoms of a Marijuana Hangover

  • Headache
  • Lethargy
  • Dehydration
  • Dry itchy eyes
  • Grogginess or spaciness
  • Limited functionality or feeling of being in slow motion
  • Mild nausea
  • Congestion

While these may be the most reported symptoms, others may also arise since every person reacts differently.

How to Treat Symptoms a Marijuana Hangover

  • Hydrate
  • Shower
  • Exercise
  • Vitamin supplement like B12

Just as marijuana hangovers are different for every person, so are the possible fixes. This is not an all encompassing list, but these are common suggestions known to help treat the symptoms and knock the marijuana hangover out. Chances of feeling better increase with using more than one of these suggestions.

How to Prevent a Marijuana Hangover

  • Avoid over-consumption
  • Stay hydrated
  • Get plenty of sleep
  • Avoid sugary foods
  • Eat fruits and vegetables

People react differently to cannabis, and therefore not every person who uses may feel the day-after side effects of overindulgence. This not only makes it difficult to predict who may develop negative residual effects and how they may be displayed, but it is also difficult to know how to prevent it.

It is a good idea to take care of yourself, and to be aware of how much you are consuming, no matter which method of delivery is used. Making efforts to prevent overindulgence will definitely decrease chances for developing unfavorable residual effects hours after consuming.

The Scientific Research

One medical study, published in 1985, studied the possible hangover effects experienced by participants the day after smoking marijuana. Thirteen men smoked joints containing either 2.9 percent tetrahydrocannabinol (THC), the psychoactive cannabinoid known to produce the feeling of being ‘high,’ or a placebo containing 0.0 percent. Participants completed a series of behavioral tasks right after using and then again after sleeping for 9 hours. Significant changes were noticed only in the subjects who had smoked the cannabis containing 2.9 percent THC. Those who smoked the placebo did not show any signs of residual effects the day after. As a result, the study concluded that “marijuana smoking can produce residual (hangover) effects the day after smoking, but the precise nature and extent of these effects, as well as their practical implications, remain to be determined.”

Another study published in 1998 concluded that “residual effects of smoking a single marijuana cigarette are minimal.” There were only 10 participants in this study, and it only studied the effects after smoking one joint. Most users who have reported feeling residual, day-after, effects have consumed more than the equivalent of one joint.

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Marie Veksler

With more than 15 years of cannabis education and experience, Marie is dedicated to sharing knowledge about the versatile plant while expanding the stoner stereotype. Email tips to marie@massroots.com.

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