One Toke, Many Hits: Exercise Could Trigger Additional High for Marijuana Users

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Working out could give pot users an extra high — but that may not be as much a boon as users might think.

The study, published in Drug and Alcohol Dependence, found that levels of THC—marijuana’s active ingredient— were higher by an average of 15% immediately after users exercised. And that could be enough to trigger a positive blood test and suggest that users got high more recently than they actually did.

Although it’s been known for years that THC is stored in fat and can sometimes cause positive tests weeks after a person has last smoked it, the study is the first to document that exercise can lead to a rise in its levels in the blood. The data may explain cases like that of a jockey who had to lose weight for a race and tested positive for cannabis long after he’d said he had last smoked it— and instances of users testing positive in rehab when they exercise and lose weight despite being abstinent.

The study involved 15 regular marijuana users who smoked an average of a joint a day and submitted to a blood test both before and after a 35 minute bout of moderate exercise on a stationary bike. They had been abstinent for at least 24 hours when they were tested.

The researchers also measured their body fat, by recording their body mass index (BMI) and found that changes in THC levels after exercise, which ranged from zero percent to 34%, increased with body fat.   “People with larger BMI showed a bigger increase [and] very thin people [had] no effect,” says the study’s lead author Iain McGregor, professor of psychopharmacology at the University of Sydney in Australia. The rise was short-lived, lasting for less than two hours.

Was it enough to cause impairment? That’s not clear because the study wasn’t designed to measure intoxication. McGregor says, however, that it’s “theoretically” possible, and is conducting more research to answer that question.

MORE: Marijuana: The Next Diabetes Drug?

Other research found that even in people who do not smoke marijuana, both exercise and stress can increase activity of the brain’s natural cannabinoid system and lead to the release of the body’s THC equivalents. Those agents  contribute to “runner’s high” and other pleasant, dreamy feelings during workouts or stressful experiences. McGregor is hoping to investigate how the exercise-induced release of THC compares to the effects of the natural cannabinoid system, which is important in regulating stress and pain.

In the meantime, understanding how a “second hit” of THC from exercise—and traumatic events— could affect judgment and behavior will be critical to figuring out the role that THC testing can play in a variety of settings, from roadside stops of impaired drivers to autopsy reports to determine cause of death.

While the amount of THC detected in the blood suggests that it’s unlikely that the second hit will cause significant impairment, if additional studies suggest that it does, scientists and regulators may face some thorny questions with respect to stoned driving. If blood levels of THC are high after a crash, for example, would researchers be able to determine if the driver were stoned when he got behind the wheel, or experienced a surge of THC from prior use that was released by the stress of accident?  Would the scientists be able to document whether the impairment were similar or qualitatively different in each circumstance? That would determine, in turn, whether teasing apart where the THC originated — from recent use or from stored fat — would matter for law enforcement purposes. Given the interest that this issue will generate, McGregor hopes these questions won’t be unanswered for long.

19 comments
HempShare
HempShare

Most people don't understand that there is No THC in the Cannabis plant. What is present is delta-9-tetrahydrocannabinolic-ACID, (THC-A), the precursor for delta-9-tetrahydrocannabinol (THC).

Decarboxylation begins with dehydration, but not in earnest until approximately 108 degrees Celcius (See HempShare videos on how to extract and Decarboxylate Cannabinoids into butter on YouTube).

Smoking Cannabis is likely the most inefficient means of Decarboxylating the compounds. Prohibition was obviously designed to keep us smoking and never discover vaporization, juicing, concentrates, tinctures, extractions etc. This plant medicine will eliminate the need for about 90% of current pharma/med school medicine. So you see the implications and why they are stumbling on their genitals as they try to act like they haven't known all along.

I am an endurance cyclist. I ride solo century rides (7:45 hours). In endurance riding you burn deep fat stores. As a 32 year Cannabis smoker, and Century Cyclist, I can attest that I certainly am high the whole time. I also can attest that after the initial carbon set-in from smoking during the ride (about 15 mins) the lungs then aspirate as the anti-inflammatory effects take over, and heart rate rises with the high. These effects act to ENHANCE my performance at just the right time (10-20 mins) into my ride when I am warmed up and ready to kick my legs up so they get fully oxygenated. Add Globular Albumen and I am basically 'doping' my blood.

This talk is likely foreign to those who have not performed a hygienic cleansing of their body with hemp seed, and a re-activation of their Endogenous Cannabinoid Receptor System (ECRS) with Cannabis. I say this because I still don't see much of what I'm purveyoring in the Main Stream. This means the Main Stream is not Main Stream any longer. It is the Odd Man Out.

malicon420
malicon420

Are they really measuring THC? Most drug test measure metabolites of marijuana, not THC.

15% higher. If you're not high now, increasing the amount of THC you have in you by 15% is not going to get you high.

I call BS.

herbalmagick
herbalmagick

People at Marijuana.com have been telling us for at least a decade not to exercise for three days prior to a drug test and to eat fattening foods.  This is supposed to stop fat-burning and prevent THC metabolites from re-entering the bloodstream. 

MickeyDangerez
MickeyDangerez

Of course it will show up in blood test because traces of cannabis is stored in the fat cells and are released when the fat is burned off but like I said experiencing a high from traces of cannabis stored in fat cells are impossible.

MickeyDangerez
MickeyDangerez

This is untrue. I am a regular user and I also exercise and never have I felt a high created by cannabis that has been stored in fat cells being burned off by exerciser .

Afreedomfighter
Afreedomfighter

I am 57 and have been using cannabis for 40 years. I'm a husband, father, electronics engineer and successful business owner. According to the CDC web site no one has ever died from cannabis intoxication in all medical history. How long do we have to suffer the lies and ridiculous nonsense from a government whose own studies have shown cannabis all but harmless by comparison to prescription drugs, tobacco and booze. Stop the lies and Legalize!

US CDC Figures directly from the CDC dot gov web site on numbers of deaths per year in the USA :

Prescription Drugs: 237,485

Tobacco: 81,323

Alcohol: 39,199

Marijuana 0, none, not a single death in all medical history

Sited direct from CDC dot gov. Naysayers show your sources. No made up Fox news rants please!

MissyNina
MissyNina

Maybe we should stop demonizing pot and STOP drug testing for it and this wouldn't be an issue! Enough already..it's a plant!

GlenCollins
GlenCollins

Does this mean marijuana will make users healthier?

ChasHolman
ChasHolman

This reminds me of a conversation I might of had with one of my 9th grade buddies while out camping in the mid 60's. "I hear you can work out twice as much'...

AlanHall
AlanHall

Are they serious? This has to be a joke. THC stored in fat is INACTIVE delta-11 THC, and it does not get someone high. Active THC, delta-9 THC, is the kind that gets you high. Once it's metabolized and the high is over, the breakdown product delta-11 THC is all that remains, and it's stored in fat in the body.


Therefore, the THC remaining in the body after 24 hours cannot get you high. 

This is a shameful and unscientific article based on old wive's tales and government spread anti-marijuana myths from the old days. 

JoeGifford
JoeGifford

Why Would Anyone Give Money To A 'Cancer Cure Foundation' When There Is Allready A Cure?  Why Not Give That Money To A Legalization Effort So that The Real Cure Can Be Legalized!  I'll Never Donate To A Cancer Research Foundation because Of This. 

MrBastion
MrBastion

@Afreedomfighter

I absolutely agree that Marijuana would have a very very low death toll when compared to prescription drugs. I myself have had to take anti-inflammatory drugs for several years and yes I know the side effects from these can be quite dangerous. However I can't agree that it is totally safe either. In my school years one guy I know became delusional & paranoid (psychosis) after using pot at a friends place. He thought people were trying to kill him and picked up a knife.. no one was hurt though

Later on during my uni years another friend had a bit too much of the hash cookies and went off the rails. She thought she was going to die with terrifying certainty.. and was crying inconsolably. After maybe half an hour she believed she was dead, and I was unable to convince her otherwise. At this point there was nothing for her to fear and so she was quite calm. Since that point in time her mind has definitely deteriorated (she now isolates herself, very often says things that don't make any sense, and is kinda off the planet), however I cannot say with any certainty that it was due to Marijuana. But I can't help but wonder...

According to wikipedia: "
Research based on the Dunedin Multidisciplinary Health and Development Study has found that those who begin regular use of cannabis in early adolescence (from age 15, median 25 days per year by age 18) and also fit a certain genetic profile (specifically, the Val/Val variant of the COMT gene) are five times more likely to develop psychotic illnesses than individuals with differing genotypes, or those who do not use cannabis" ... and also: "Cannabis use does not appear to be causally related to the incidence of schizophrenia,[51] but its use is highly likely to precipitate psychotic disorders in persons who are vulnerable to developing psychosis; and cannabis use is also likely to worsen the course of the disorder among those who have already developed it".

MichelleSexton
MichelleSexton

@AlanHall Actually, the liver makes a metabolite known as 11-hydroxy THC which has been reported to be more potent than delta-9!   When Cannabis is inhaled, the liver is bypassed so THC can accumulate in fat.  Iain McGregor is a friend and quite a brilliant scientist, so unfortunately it appears that you are the shameful one believing in old "wives tales"!

HempShare
HempShare

@MichelleSexton @AlanHall Indeed. One will know it when they extend their self beyond the 3-4 hour mark, and ONLY if you're consuming the proper combination of energy sources. Your body must trigger the release of these deep embedded intra-celluar fat deposits, and this takes a combination of things to trigger. Most who consume an ordinary Western diet would have way too much fat intake, and way too little exercise, AND too little long-term deposits to notice anything.

Now, take a stoner like me, with a pristine diet and endurance exercise. I am the efficacy of most things Hemp Seed, Hemp Oil, Hemp Fiber and Cannabis Medicine.

I eat hemp seed, I eat hemp oil, I make hemp hummus, I wear hemp shirts, I sell hemp shirts, I smoke cannabis, I eat canna-butter, I vaporize cannabinoids. I Am Cannabis so to speak!

MickeyDangerez
MickeyDangerez

@MichelleSexton @AlanHall Really?!

Then tell me if delta-11 is so potent why don't I feel it when it's released from fat cells?

They might be more potent but if they are inactive it means nothing.

HempShare
HempShare

@MickeyDangerez @MichelleSexton @AlanHall Actually, IF YOU ARE INACTIVE...it means nothing. Put away the High-CBN couch-lock strain and get something with more of a high. Then get out on a bicycle and ride for about eight-hours uphill. I promise you a buzz beyond your belief.

MrBastion
MrBastion

@MickeyDangerez

It is only small amounts released from the fat when compared to what we would get from smoking, since it says "While the amount of THC detected in the blood suggests that it’s unlikely that the second hit will cause significant impairment". But obviously it is still enough to score a positive result on a blood test, and that is the important point that the research has addressed.