Weed Hangovers Are Real & The Worst

Image result for weed smoking alien
 Sarah Jacoby
We tend to think of cannabis as a relatively safe medicine — and it is! But there are some possible side effects that aren’t so nice. For instance, the internet is full of cautionary tales that suggest overdoing it can leave you in a pretty unpleasant state the next day. Termed a “weed hangover,” the condition supposedly comes with feelings of fatigue, lack of appetite, irritability, and an overall sense of grogginess. But how much of this is just stoner legend?

“It’s very real, and it as a lot to do with dosage,” confirms Dustin Sulak, DO, a medical cannabis expert based in Maine. So, smoking a little too much can absolutely make your morning miserable.

Plenty of people who use cannabis, either recreationally or medically, approach it with a “more is better” mentality. In truth, “most people will get relief from symptoms at a dose that’s lower than what would cause intoxication,” Dr. Sulak says. So, if you’re using marijuana to treat a health issue, you don’t necessarily need to feel high to get the benefits. And even if you’re using it specifically to enjoy a high, there’s no real need to go ham — you’ll probably be better off the next day if you, well, chill a little bit.

Any time you’re consuming cannabis, your body’s cannabinoid receptors are being activated and, essentially, overstimulated. To counteract that, the receptors are pulled into the cells and become inactive, Dr. Sulak explains. But that doesn’t just make them inactive to the THC you’re inhaling, it also means the endocannabinoid compounds that naturally occur in your body aren’t going to be able to bind to those receptors, either.

Under normal circumstances, your body can balance this out, and there’s no real harm. But, if you ingest enough, you could wake up in a state of cannabinoid withdrawal, Dr. Sulak says. “By using a high dose late in the night, what we’re left with is a feeling of deficiency.” That, combined with weed’s well-documented dehydrating effects, can make you an extremely unhappy camper the next day.

What can you do about it? Treating a weed hangover is a lot like treating a normal one, it turns out. Your first priority is going to be getting rehydrated. After that, you can either wait your symptoms out or, if your life circumstances allow, consume a small dose of cannabis to counteract your withdrawal symptoms. On the other hand, if you wake up and still feel a bit intoxicated, Dr. Sulak suggests taking a some CBD or consuming a high-CBD cannabis strain to counteract the effects.

Beyond that, though, it’s worth taking a good look at your long-term cannabis habits. “If you’re having a weed hangover, it’s a sign you’re not using cannabis optimally,” Dr. Sulak says. So, he recommends new users try using a dose that produces the most minimal (yet noticeable) effects for about three days before upping their consumption. And, for veteran users, he suggests abstaining from weed for two days before finding their minimal dose. Both of these protocols help your body build up a tolerance to the negative side effects of marijuana while also making you more sensitive to the positive effects, Dr. Sulak explains.

“It’s a very forgiving and sustainable medicine,” he says. So it’s worth taking the time to find the way to use it that works the best for you — without feeling like crap the next day.

 no way are we encouraging illegal activity and would like to remind its readers that marijuana usage continues to be an offense under Federal Law, regardless of state marijuana laws.


Marijuana’s Expansion Could Turn Into a Nightmare for Employers

While marijuana marches forward, drug-testing policies for employers remain stuck in neutral.

Man Holding Marijuana Plant Leaves In Hands Getty
IMAGE SOURCE: GETTY IMAGES.

As we look back at what’s transpired in 2016, it could rightly be argued that this was the most successful year ever for marijuana.

2016: Marijuana’s most successful year ever

Entering 2016, 23 states had legalized cannabis for medical use, while residents in four states — Washington, Colorado, Oregon, and Alaska — had approved the sale of recreational pot to adults ages 21 and up. Furthermore, Gallup’s 2015 marijuana poll found that 58% of Americans favored the legalization of recreational weed.

Now, less than two weeks before the end of the year, 28 states have legalized medical cannabis, two of which did so entirely through the legislative process (Ohio and Pennsylvania). The number of recreational pot states has also doubled to eight from four, with residents in California, Maine, Massachusetts, and Nevada all approving statewide initiatives to legalize adult-use weed. Even marijuana’s public approval has increased, with the 2016 Gallup poll finding that 60% of Americans want to see pot legal across the U.S. — a new all-time high. For added context, just 25% of Americans wanted to see marijuana use legalized two decades ago.

The proof of marijuana’s success can be seen in its election near-sweep (sorry, Arizona), as well as in the rapidly growing legal dollar figures behind the industry. Investment firm Cowen & Co is forecasting compound annual growth for the legal pot industry of nearly 24% through 2026, while ArcView is calling for 30% annualized legal sales growth through the end of the decade.

Marijuana Cannabis Bud On Top Of Hundred Dollar Bill Getty
IMAGE SOURCE: GETTY IMAGES.

Marijuana’s expansion could very well lead to an employment boom within the industry, with some pundits calling for a 100% to 200% increase in pot jobs available in the near future. CNBC is estimating that the cannabis industry already employs about 150,000 people, so we could be talking about another 150,000 to 300,000 jobs being created solely because of marijuana’s state-level expansion.

However, outside the marijuana industry, it could be another story.

A nightmare for employers is brewing

While marijuana’s expansion is setting up bountiful opportunities within the pot industry, it could be narrowing employment opportunities elsewhere.

Even though more than half of all U.S. states have legalized medical cannabis, and more than a fifth of the U.S. population will soon have access to legal recreational cannabis following the November elections, the federal government still holds marijuana to be a schedule 1 substance. Schedule 1 drugs are deemed to have no medical benefits and are thus illegal. Employers are within their right to follow federal law during the hiring and/or employment process and administer drug tests that screen for marijuana, even if the state a worker resides in has legalized medical and/or recreational pot. Given that marijuana can stay in a person’s system for a considerable amount of time, this could prove a problem for infrequent users in legal states, and especially for medical marijuana patients who need the drug to treat a specific ailment.

As reported by the Los Angeles Times, companies in certain safety-sensitive industries, as well as those that operate directly with the federal government, are unlikely to relax their drug-testing qualifications for initial or continued employment. Industries such as trucking and construction, which require the user to operate heavy machinery, are almost assuredly not going to budge on their marijuana-testing standards, especially with the full effects of marijuana on drivers still not fully known.

Employer Drug Test Marijuana Pot Cannabis Weed Getty
IMAGE SOURCE: GETTY IMAGES.

Likewise, federal contractor Boeing (NYSE:BA), which employs nearly 162,000 — many of whom are in Washington and California — has firmly stated that it has no intention of changing its drug-testing policy regardless of what laws individual states pass. According to the company, “As a federal contractor, The Boeing Company’s Drug Free Workplace policy is based on federal standards which define marijuana as an illegal drug. Therefore the use of marijuana by Boeing employees is prohibited.” For what it’s worth, Boeing hasn’t experienced major shifts in hiring despite the passage of recreational marijuana laws in Washington state, but that isn’t the case with other industries where it has been difficult to find workers to hire who can pass (and continue to pass) a drug test.

Barry Sample, the aptly named Director of Sciences and Technology for Quest Diagnostics, the company that handles most drug testing for employers, told the Los Angeles Times that most California employers don’t plan to change their policies on marijuana, and many of those in Washington and Colorado that had suggested they would alter their drug-testing policies have not followed through.

A reminder of marijuana’s many challenges

If there’s a lesson to be learned behind the growing clash over legal state-level marijuana use and employers that ardently oppose their employees’ use of pot, it’s that marijuana’s path to success is probably more challenging than most people realize.

Scientist Writing On Clipboard Marijuana Cannabis Getty
IMAGE SOURCE: GETTY IMAGES.

Until marijuana is rescheduled by the federal government, many employers that are currently testing for it (along with other illegal substances) are probably going to continue to do so. But that’s the problem — the federal government isn’t liable to alter its stance on cannabis anytime soon. The U.S. Drug Enforcement Agency had its opportunity to reschedule pot this summer but declined. The DEA cited a lack of safety and medical evidence, as well as a lack of knowledge surrounding the chemical makeup of marijuana, as reasons for declining to reschedule pot. Petitions that call for the DEA to reschedule or de-schedule marijuana can take years to review.

Also, even though President-elect Donald Trump has demonstrated support for medical marijuana, it doesn’t mean that Republican leaders in Congress will agree. Of the states that have not legalized medical marijuana, many are led by Republican legislators.

These employment challenges compound a number of existing challenges that actual marijuana businesses are also facing, which stem from the federal government’s stance on marijuana. As long as cannabis stays as a schedule 1 substance, access to basic banking services (i.e., checking accounts and lines of credit) will remain constrained, and pot industry businesses probably won’t be able to take normal business deductions come tax time.

Though marijuana’s expansion could continue in 2017 and beyond, it’s expected to be filled with some sizable hiccups and speed bumps.


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Here’s how much marijuana it would take to kill you

Melia Robinson,Business Insider

14 States That May Never Legalize Marijuana

Legal cannabis sales are growing rapidly, but these states are unlikely to be seeing green anytime soon, if ever.

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IMAGE SOURCE: CANNABIS CULTURE VIA FLICKR.

Marijuana’s expansion over the past two decades has been nothing short of phenomenal.

In the mid-1990s, Gallup’s national poll showed that only a quarter of respondents favored legalizing cannabis nationwide, and not a single state had approved the drug for medical or recreational use. Today, 25 states have legalized the use of medical marijuana, and an additional four — Washington, Colorado, Oregon, and Alaska — along with Washington, D.C., have legalized recreational marijuana.

Gallup’s 2015 poll shows that 58% of the American public now supports the nationwide legalization of marijuana. A separate CBS News poll the same year also found that 84% of the American public is in favor of legalizing cannabis for medical purposes.

Marijuana sales are growing like a weed

It’s not just public support for marijuana that’s budding — sales are growing like a weed, too. According to a recently released report from investment firm Cowen & Co., the legal marijuana market is currently worth about $6 billion, with 8 million daily users and 32 million adults who’ve admitted to using cannabis before. By 2026, Cowen & Co. is predicting legal marijuana sales could grow to $50 billion, which works out to a compound annual growth rate of almost 24% over the next decade.

Marijuana’s growth has businesses and investors seeing green, but it’s also been a major boon to select states and local governments, with Colorado being the best example.

Colorado legalized medical marijuana in 2000, with voters choosing to allow for the sale of recreational marijuana in 2012. Over the trailing 12-month period in Colorado, more than $1 billion in legal marijuana has been sold. Furthermore, based on legal cannabis sales figures from 2015, Colorado reaped approximately $135 million in tax revenue and licensing fees that are being used to fund education, law enforcement, and drug abuse programs in the state. It’s figures like these that have residents and legislatures in states such as California excited about the upcoming elections.

Speaking of elections, residents in nine states will be going to the polls next month to decide whether or not cannabis will become legal either recreationally or medically in their state.

Like I said, marijuana’s growth has been phenomenal.

Businessman Thumbs Down Ceo Getty
IMAGE SOURCE: GETTY IMAGES.

These 14 states may never legalize marijuana

Yet, in spite of this rapid growth, some states look unlikely to participate. Of the 25 remaining states that don’t have a medical marijuana law on their books, 14 may never wind up legalizing marijuana. These states are:

  1. Alabama
  2. Georgia
  3. Indiana
  4. Iowa
  5. Kentucky
  6. Kansas
  7. Louisiana
  8. North Carolina
  9. South Carolina
  10. Tennessee
  11. Texas
  12. Virginia
  13. West Virginia
  14. Wisconsin

Can You Pass a Drug Test While Using Marijuana?

drug testing on The Office

Dwight Schrute hands Michael Scott a clean urinalysis sample on The Office | NBC

In Season 2 of The Office, employee and Volunteer Sheriff’s Deputy Dwight Schrute finds half of a marijuana jointin the parking lot of the office building, and calls for immediate drug testing of the entire staff. Michael Scott, the manager, had been to an Alicia Keys concert two nights before and smoked what he was told were “clove cigarettes” with other concert-goers. When the drug tester shows up to the office, Michael tells Dwight he might have “gotten high accidentally by a girl with a lip ring,” and convinces Dwight to supply him with a sample of clean urine for the test.
What made for a humorous bit on a TV show is a valid concern for many employees across the United States, who can be subjected to random drug testing during the course of their work — especially during a pre-employment ritual for job applicants. Drug testing isn’t as common as it used to be, since research has shown the threat of peeing in a cup doesn’t really improve workplace safety or productivity. However, roughly half of employers still use the practice, with more considering renewed testing in light of relaxed marijuana laws.
As medical marijuana has become legal in many states, and recreational cannabis has been approved in four states and Washington, D.C., employers have started to consider new testing efforts to ensure their employees are showing up sober. The problem is that even if someone isn’t high, remnants of marijuana can still show up for a significant time period after smoking their last joint. While other drugs like alcohol, cocaine, and heroin disappear in your body’s system after a day or so, marijuana can linger for much longer. How long, exactly? Unfortunately, it depends on numerous personal factors.

Marijuana and drug testing: Will you pass?

Female hands rolling a joint

Unfortunately, urinalysis — the most common form of drug testing in most workplaces — does not detect THC, the psychoactive component in marijuana that actually creates the “high.” Instead, it detects nonactive metabolites from the drug, which tend to stay in the body for much longer. Those metabolites are filtered out by your body but are fat-soluble, which take longer to process than water-soluble components. That also means that factors like your weight, diet, and exercise habits can impact how long the remnants of the drug stay in your body, long after the high is gone. Like most drugs, how often you use cannabis products is also a variable.
Even among expert sources, those estimations vary. However, in Michael Scott’s case, it’s very likely that his own urine sample would have given away his crazy night with Alicia Keys and Lip-Ring Girl. Sources like NORML and the National Drug Court Institute report the following estimations:
  • Occasional users (Once per week or less): Stays in system for 1-5 days after the last use
  • Regular users (More than once per week): Stays in system for 1-3 weeks after last use
  • Heavy users (Multiple times per day, or regular use for a prolonged period of time): Can stay in system up to 4-6 weeks after last use
One study found that for some heavy users, marijuana use is detectable for up to 110 days — which is more than three months..  

Doctor holding a bottle of urine sample

If you’re taking a urine test, the lab technician is looking for a certain concentration of those metabolites. Typically, the threshold for a positive test — and likely a rough conversation with your boss — is 50 nanograms per milliliter (ng/ml) or more.
A few things to note: At that level, using the excuse of passive smoking (e.g. “My roommate smoked last night, but I didn’t,”) won’t cut it. Only extreme circumstances — like getting locked in a closet with several heavy pot users for hours at a time — would potentially cause enough exposure to register a positive urine sample. NORML notes that passive smoking could cause positive readings at 25 ng/ml or lower, but it still might not be a valid cause.
Even if you legally smoke marijuana, you could still be fired for a positive test result — no matter which state you live in. With that in mind, it’s your best bet to turn in a clean sample, if you’re given advance notice. Most sites caution you to steer clear of self-advertised “cleansing” products, as most of them aren’t proven to be effective and can be harmful to your health. If you have a few weeks to get clean, the best option is to drink plenty of water, eat lean and healthy foods, and perhaps drink natural diuretics like cranberry juice or coffee.marijuana overdose
NORML advises against using marijuana on the job, but if you need to take a test and used marijuana recently, the site recommends drinking as much water before the test as possible, to dilute the concentration of any marijuana-related metabolites. However, some lab techs will reject a sample if it’s too watery. Taking 50-100 milligrams of vitamin B-2 can help to color the sample so it doesn’t appear too diluted — though it’s not a foolproof solution.

Of course, the safest option is to abstain from marijuana use completely in the weeks leading up to a drug test, so you don’t need to have an uncomfortable conversation with your boss or potential HR manager. Even if you’re using marijuana within the confines of your state and local laws, a positive test result could spell trouble for your career.


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How to Smoke Weed: A Beginner’s Guide

In case you’re interested..JK Simmons Smoking Weed

When first smoking, feel free to giggle your ass off and gorge on Oreos. But please, if you continue, learn some dignity.

The decidedly uphill battle to legalize marijuana, medical or otherwise, is likely to be with us for decades to come. Legislating morality in our country (and in human societies down through the ages) has always been fraught. As we have seen, even if marijuana is legal in some localities, that doesn’t mean the feds won’t shut down licensed operations, as I discovered woefully when the owners of my own dear collective in Malibu, California, were forced to pack up and flee after receiving a threatening letter from Obama’s U.S. Attorney General’s office. (Has anyone looked into the reason for our seemingly liberal president’s hard line on pot? Do you think it has something to do with being a father of teenage daughters who attend a pricey prep school in Washington, D.C.? Everybody knows how hardy those rich preppies like to party.)

Meanwhile, glassy eyes around the nation are turned toward Colorado’s legalization experiment. Given the choice between a drunk (and impaired) asshole and a pleasant stoner… Well, put it this way: If my college-bound kid was to ask my advice on the subject, I’d tell him I prefer he smoked weed in lieu of drinking. Watch one episode of Real World. That’s what our kids are emulating, people. (Of course I’d also tell him to watch his butt — people still get busted for simple marijuana possession every day in America.)

There’s not a lot to know to get you started, and I am not here advocating the use of illegal substances. But if you happen to be interested…

1. Indica vs. Sativa

Learn the difference. Indica makes you sleepy; it’s more of a body high, good for pain, anxiety, and difficulty sleeping — you’ll likely nod out a couple hours after smoking. Sativa is a more upbeat, artistic, and cerebral high. It sparks the imagination and energizes you directly after smoking and will keep you awake if you smoke too close to bedtime. Most stoners remember the difference in a somewhat anti-intuitive way. Sativa starts with an S = NOT sleepy.

2. Just Say No to Blunts

The hip-hop generation has popularized the use of tobacco leaf rolling papers or hollowed-out/re-rolled Swisher Sweets as the delivery device of choice for weed. Not only can this lead to an addiction to nicotine (every heroin user I’ve ever known agrees that nicotine is the hardest drug to kick). It also kills the taste of the myriad delicious strains now on the market. Nobody would ever mix a shot of red wine in a glass with ice and Coke, would they? [Eds. note: Okay, we sometimes do that.]

3. Know Your Equipment

Some people swear by vaporizers, which eliminate the intense skunky smell (good for dorm rooms and public spots) and the inhalation of smoke (possibly but not medically proven to adversely affect the lungs). However, the vape high is considerably less intense and shorter lasting. While a bong can be unruly and downright disgusting, a small water pipe can fulfill the same purpose, filtering the more noxious elements of combustion. For cleaning, isopropyl alcohol cuts resin nicely. Remember the container full of combs soaking in blue liquid on the barber’s counter? I do the same with my glass pipes.

4. Giggling Man is an Oxymoron

The first time you smoke, feel free to giggle your ass off, munch down on Double Stuf Oreos and barbecue potato chips, and marvel at the new found intensity of movies, music, sex, et al. The primary effect of weed is to enhance the sensory enjoyment of everything around you. But please, if you continue to smoke, learn some dignity. Conquer the munchies and the giggles. Concentrate instead on these newly opened doors of perception.

5. Expectations

If pot makes you feel paranoid, it’s because it affords the user a slightly different view of him or herself. When you’re high, your words echo discreetly in your own coconut, your point of view is slightly off center from normal, affording you a kind of fleeting glimpse of yourself and your actions that you might not ordinarily have. Weed invites self-observation, which is not for everyone. Even though it should be.

Here’s The Real Difference Between Sativa & Indica Pot Strains

This article was originally published on May 27, 2015.

Now that pot legislation is making its way across the country, it’s time for a refresher on the difference between the main types of marijuana strains: indica and sativa. It’s a lesson some of us have had to learn over and over again. But, this infographic from the recently-released Green: A Field Guide To Marijuana will help us get it right.

At a basic level, we may be aware that sativa strains produce a sort of “up” high that gives users a feeling of euphoria, increased creativity, and energy. Meanwhile, indica strains usually leave us relaxed and “in-da-couch.”

But, as the infographic shows, the differences start with the shape of the plants: Sativas tend to have longer, thinner leaves and are lighter in color. Indica strains, meanwhile, often have shorter, fatter leaves and dark, dense buds.

And then, of course, there’s a whole host of hybrid strains that may produce a high that’s between the two ends of that spectrum. But, when they’re up-close — like in Erik Christiansen’s photos in the book — the differences are easy to spot. Check out the full infographic, below.

IMAGE: COURTESY OF GREEN: A FIELD GUIDE TO MARIJUANA BY DAN MICHAELS, PHOTOS BY ERIK CHRISTIANSEN, PUBLISHED BY CHRONICLE BOOKS.
Refinery29 in no way encourages illegal activity and would like to remind its readers that marijuana usage continues to be an offense under federal law, regardless of state marijuana laws. To learn more, click here.
PHOTO: COURTESY OF ERIK CHRISTIANSEN.