Most people aren't aware weed hangovers even exist, let alone feel they’ve suffered any consequences after a relaxing evening with Mary Jane.
“I've never heard of this in my life,” says Margaret Hannan, a regular pot smoker from Toronto, Canada.
For a small group of smokers, however, morning-after headaches, heavy eyelids, as well as mental and physical lethargy are the real deal. Often referred to as a weedover or a bongover, some chronic cannabis users have reported symptoms of nausea the next day.
“My cure for any weedover is cannabidiol,” says cannabis activist Dinah Mitchell.
Edibles Can Lead to Weedovers
According to Mitchell, weed hangovers are a far more common complaint from individuals who have consumed too many edibles (which is often the case with newbies), than from individuals who have smoked too much pot.
“People get very impatient,” she says.
While an immediate high is experienced after one puff of a cannabis joint, the tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) from edibles such as cannabis cookies and other baked goods typically takes more than two hours to kick in because it goes through the digestion process. By then, consumers, possibly doubting the quality of the product they just swallowed, may have already popped a couple more weed-infused gummy bears or indulged in one more special brownie, doubling or tripling the amount of THC their body needs to metabolize. Since THC from marijuana edibles is more potent than smoked flower, it stays in the system much longer, resulting in a lingering low-level high.
Weedovers Don’t Last Long
Fortunately, a weedover is nothing at all like a boozy hangover, which for some can last up to three days.
“The difference with a weedover is you snap out of it within an hour of moving around and drinking water,” says Mitchell.
Although there is no evidence to link cannabis hangovers and dehydration, many of the symptoms of a cannabis hangover are improved by drinking more water.
Another possible factor behind a weedover is the extraction method used to separate and refine molecules and contaminants. Fortunately, distillate is more commonly used these days to produce many of the chocolates, candies, and granola bars behind the counter at your local cannabis dispensary. Distillates use an extraction process to create a clean, clear, extremely pure top-shelf concentrate.
As an edibles producer for more than five years and a self-described health freak, Mitchell considers herself to be an edibles connoisseur. She eats them all the time, a vice, she says, to help her deal with day-to-day stress. However, it’s only when Mitchell has consumed a low-quality product that she wakes up the next day feeling a bit burnt out. To combat this, she consumes only organic, wholesome edibles that have GMO-free ingredients and high-quality distillate. When she uses these products, she says she experiences no side effects the next day.
To combat a potential weedover, Brad Richardson from Ontario, Canada, says he smokes flower over much more potent concentrates like shatter, wax, or crumble for his last session of the day. “I’ve had a few times I’ve finished the night on concentrates and wake up just as high as when I went to bed,” he says.
Limited Research on Weed Hangovers
Only a limited number of scientific studies have been conducted on whether or not weed hangovers are real or imagined. The most notable study, published in 1985, found smoking marijuana can produce residual hangover effects the day after smoking. However, the study was very small with only 13 male participants and the extent of the hangover effects have yet to be determined.
A similar small study from 1998 found residual effects of smoking a single marijuana cigarette are minimal.
“Research is only starting to come to light now with all the dispensaries opening,” says Mitchell.
Most current evidence is anecdotal. As a top Toronto budtender who has helped set up a number of dispensaries in the Canadian city, Mitchell has had her fair share of discussions on the topic. She also knows first- and second-hand that 99 percent of responsible marijuana users wake up with no symptoms at all.
Tony Cicchini of Detroit, MI, doesn’t feel any negative side effects of a weedover the day after smoking a joint, even if he sparks up right before bed.
“Not at all, but I have a pretty extreme tolerance,” he says. “If anything, I wake up feeling better.”
Because cannabis can affect individuals differently depending on a number of factors including strain, individual tolerance, THC levels, and body chemistry, what’s absolutely perfect for one person may be too much for someone else. Whatever the method of marijuana consumption, swallowed or inhaled, anecdotal evidence suggests it’s best to start small and be patient. If one chocolate-covered 420 bar didn’t do much one night, increase the consumed amount incrementally until the desired effect is achieved. Over-consuming, and the inevitable consequences, will only result in a bad experience.