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For most of us, even a mention of the word hangover is bound to bring up bad memories of tequila shots, beer-chugging, waking up with a headache, and afternoons spent curled up in bed. What about when you abstain from alcohol, though? Can you get a hangover from weed? And if so, what does a hangover feel like when it's caused by bud?
In this article, we'll explore the phenomenon of marijuana hangovers. First, we'll debate the existence of the morning-after weed headache. Next, we'll cover the limited scientific research into pot's aftereffects. Finally, we'll touch on what might cause your nightly cannabis high to turn into a struggle-morning, how to get rid of pot hangovers, and what you can do to prevent them from even popping up in the first place.
If you're familiar with hangovers from overconsumption of booze, you know just how mind-shattering and disruptive the lasting effects of alcohol can be. In most cases, no matter how much cannabis you consume, the morning after smoking will not include intense vomiting, blinding headaches, and light sensitivity like it does when you drink too many mojitos or daiquiris. Instead, cannabis hangovers tend to look a little more like cannabis intoxication. Cannabis users reporting residual, lasting effects often describe issues like brain fog, dry mouth, fatigue and a dull hangover headache. So while it is certainly possible to get hungover from consuming cannabis, it is also generally a much more mild disturbance than the day-ruining effects of a heavy alcohol hangover.
While there is plenty of anecdotal evidence from across the cannabis community about the existence and effects of a marijuana hangover, the scientific data behind the sensation is still lacking.
Like most facets of cannabis research, clinical investigations into weed hangovers have been significantly hindered by federal prohibition. In the few studies that have been published about the lasting effects of cannabis intoxication, results have been varied and inconclusive. In a 1985 study published in the journal "Drug and Alcohol Dependence," researchers gave one group of men joints containing cannabis with 2.9% THC and another group a placebo joint and recorded the effects over a nine-hour overnight period. At the end of the study, researchers noted the persistence of "subjective effects" (i.e. not feeling normal) and slower results in timed cognitive tests in the group that used cannabis. And while that study did conclude that cannabis hangovers exist, researchers were careful to point out that the 10-person, low-dose study was not a be-all-end-all report.
In 1998, another small, all-male research initiative published in the journal "Pharmacology, Biochemistry, and Behavior" found that marijuana had measurable effects immediately after use, but could not detect any significant cognitive or behavioral changes the morning after.
Since then, no research has specifically focused on the morning-after effects of THC. Thankfully, like so much knowledge in the cannabis industry, anecdotal reports have been invaluable in sorting out the cause of cannabis hangover symptoms and how to conquer and prevent them.
If you have experienced a marijuana hangover, there is only one culprit: overconsumption. Unlike hangovers from alcohol, which occur when your body is severely dehydrated, cannabis hangovers are simply the feeling of active THC leftover in your body from past use. So if you're usually a low-THC, high-CBD flower smoker and you spend a night dabbing 95% pure THC isolate, that heavy hit of psychoactive activity could linger through your slumber and show up again in the morning. For cannabis users with a low tolerance to THC, smoking a joint too close to bedtime or ripping a new bong could be enough to spark brain fog the next morning. For other, more experienced cannabis consumers, a noticeable weed comedown is more common with high dose edibles and extremely potent extracts like Rick Simpson Oil (RSO). Because some edibles and RSOs contain upwards of 100mg of THC, taking too much at one time could leave a user at least somewhat stoned for multiple days on end.
To stop a cannabis hangover at the source, the obvious and only option is to start slow and curb your cannabis use before you go overboard - especially when it comes to product types that are out of your typical wheelhouse. Sure, extracts, edibles, and RSO are all great, but if you're used to microdosing, it is wise to take baby steps instead of jumping right up to a macro marijuana experience.
Of course, sometimes moderation is a plan better executed in hindsight. Thankfully, for those nights when you do accidentally eat one too many magic brownies or go too hard on the gravity bong, there are a few tried and true remedies that will get you out of bed, out of your head, and back to your regularly functioning self. First, like any good morning routine, it can help to hop in the shower. If the longterm effects of your overindulgence include brain fog and lasting sluggishness, a blast of scorching hot or frigidly cold water is a great way to snap out of it and reset your system. Just like alcohol hangovers, a weed headache and cottonmouth could be the result of dehydration. So in addition to a long shower, make sure to pour up a couple of large glasses of water. If your eyes feel particularly dry, use eye drops for some quick relief.
If your weed hangover symptoms persist after a shower and some H2O, grab a healthy, hearty breakfast and get outside for some fresh air. The food will nourish your body and a walk, jog, or bike ride will flood your body with fresh oxygen, give you a nice adrenaline boost, and help clear your head. If all of that fails and your schedule is clear, you can always try the hair of the dog method: spark up your favorite strain and at least try to make your lingering high a little more pleasant.
Do you have another suggestion for curbing a marijuana hangover? Tell us your favorite remedies in the comments below!