Whether or not the overconsumption of weed can produce a hangover has long been a point of debate. Those who don’t believe it often compare this type of hangover to the one induced by the overconsumption of alcohol. That, in turn, leads them to conclude that pot doesn’t produce any ill effects because the effects brought on by the likes of Mary Jane are much less noticeable than the ones brought on by the likes of Jim Beam and Jack Daniels.
Most of us know this: we’ve had the signs of an alcohol hangover at least a time or twenty – the shaking, nausea, the never peeing even though we’ve consumed three gallons of water, two pots of coffee, and fifteen Big Gulps. And, of course, the most telltale sign: the promise that, no matter what, we will never ever drink again.
Hangovers from marijuana are much more subtle, which makes them harder to notice. Still, many people do feel a bit off after a day of smoking joint after joint (or popping edible after edible). But, what does the science say?
Science Says: “We’ve Got Better Things To Study”
The link between hangovers and weed hasn’t been studied a ton – this isn’t surprising since many studies (i.e., those sanctioned by Uncle Sam) have aimed to show cannabis’ non-existent gateway drug properties. Other studies, to be fair, have been aimed at discovering marijuana’s benefits – can it help control symptoms of MS? Can it prevent seizures? Can it play a role in curing cancer once and for all? In other words, there are more pressing things to study than hangovers. Even so, a little research does exist. Unfortunately, this research has handcuffed itself, either by using a sample size that is ridiculously small or testing subjects who consume THC levels that are unrealistically low.
A study conducted in 2005 did link cannabis use to cannabis hangovers…kind of. The point of the study was to “examine any association between cannabis use and cognitive performance, mood and human error at work.” They found that those who used cannabis had impaired cognitive function that was existent but subtle, suggesting that cannabis may lead to a “hangover-type” effect, that may increase with frequency of use. Yet, it’d be fair to ask what other variables were considered, namely whether or not the subjects drank their morning coffee.
With limited research, most of what we know about weed hangovers is anecdotal, personal experiences that tell the tale of what happens when we go a little too crazy with the cannabis.
So, what do these tales tell us?
To start, they tell us that weed hangovers are less common in people who smoke and more common in people using edibles or extracts. This is to be expected, as edibles and extracts tend to produce more potent effects while sticking around longer than the traditional smoke.
It also tells us that there are common symptoms that come with a weed hangover. These include:
You know when you walk into a room and then forget why or when you fail to remember your home address even though you’ve lived there for years? Welcome to the not so wonderful world of brain fog! Brain fog can best be described as “dazed and confused” or a feeling like you just can’t “get going.”
If you experience this, there are a few things you can do – take a shower, drink some caffeine, and get moving. The last one is especially important: inertia is your friend! Objects in motion stay in motion.
While cannabis is famous for minimizing nausea (as it does in people who take nausea-causing medications), a weed hangover may involve feeling a bit queasy. This doesn’t appear to be super common, but it’s rumored to happen. If it happens to you, consume foods that are good for nausea (read: go to Walgreens and buy out their saltine cracker supply).
Ah, the headache – the common symptom of all hangovers! In a hangover caused by alcohol, a headache manifests as the result of dehydration. But, in a headache caused by marijuana, the cause isn’t as clear-cut. Even so, many believe that dehydration probably plays a role – when you’re imbibing, consuming an adequate amount of water isn’t exactly a “high” priority.
The cause isn’t really that important – it’s what you can do about it that matters. So, if you have a headache that won’t go away, pop a Tylenol or Advil. That usually does the trick. And, in case dehydration is the cause, focus on fluids. Drinking Pedialyte even though you’re, like, 40? Ain’t no shame in the rehydrating game!
Too much weed can make you sleepy, something that may carry over into the next day. Fortunately, sleepiness has an obvious antidote: rest! If you’re not in the position where you can take a nap – you’re at work and your cubicle is in your boss’s direct line of vision – try caffeinated beverages to get you through the day. In fact, many of the things that help with the brain fog mentioned above should also help with fatigue. It’s hard to be sleepy in a shower that’s 30 degrees Fahrenheit.
Another common sign of a weed hangover is dry eyes. Again, this can be a sign of dehydration, but regardless of what’s causing it, there’s a simple solution: eye drops! Or you can just punch yourself in the face until you cry. That might work too.
Some people can consume loads of weed and never experience a hangover (some people can do this with alcohol too – we hate those jerks!). But, smoke or consume enough, and odds are you won’t feel completely yourself the following day. The good news is weed hangovers are benign and fleeting – give it a few hours and you won’t be sleeping at your desk because of pot-induced fatigue. You’ll only be doing it because your job is boring.