How to avoid getting your roommates stoned with second-hand smoke

Published Apr 1, 2020 12:00 p.m. ET
iStock / MrKornFlakes

Now that so many of us are spending our days trapped within the confines of our own homes, our options for letting loose are dwindling, and that is especially true for those who are currently in isolation with other people. Most of us have parents, roommates, friends, spouses, or children who are also stuck indoors, and that can make it hard to squeeze in a good session without impacting those who are close to us. This is especially true for students who live on campus, and anyone who is stuck in an apartment building.

Second-hand smoke from cannabis can cause a contact high, so it’s important to take precautions against this happening to others, but luckily there are at least a few things that you can do to cut down on this possibility, which will help you to live safely and peacefully with others throughout this ordeal.

Obviously, the simplest answer is to head out into the great outdoors, as the wind will carry and disperse the smoke in no time, but since so many of us are stuck inside completely, or just don’t want to leave for fear of running into a chatty neighbor or friend that doesn’t understand the concept of social distancing, these tips and tricks focus on safely getting stoned indoor, in spaces that are shared with others.

1. Always choose a room with a window

Now it is important to recognize the reality that so many renters live in rooms or apartments without a well-placed window, but if you do have this option it will always be ideal, as it makes it easy to blow the smoke outside where it isn’t going to be getting anyone else stoned. For those without a reasonable room with a window, things can get a bit trickier, but as long as you have a bathroom with a working exhaust fan, you should be good to go.

2. Close and seal off doors

This next step is just as important as the first because if you open up the window, and leave the door ajar, chances are pretty good that the smoke will just be blown into and through your entire place rather than vented into the outdoors. This is especially true in the cases of exhaust fans, which aren’t exactly designed to pull up heavy second-hand smoke, so it’s a good idea to keep a few things on hand so that you’re prepared.

After any doors including those in closets are closed, take a look at the cracks that remain slightly open, as those will need to be sealed to keep the second hand smoke from your joint or bong contained within the room. To close them up, almost anything can work, but the ideal temporary option is damp towels placed at the top and base of the doors.

3. Opt for devices that put off the least amount of smoke

When you fully pack a bong and spark it up a few times, you will likely to put it down for a few minutes before gone to catch a breath, and during that time, the cannabis will continue to smoke, creating clouds of un-inhaled cannabinoids that are much more likely to induce a contact high. The same problem occurs with joints that smoke away, filling an entire room in smoke in no time.

The thing is that inhaled smoke upon exhale will maintain up to 50% of the cannabinoids within it, and that might sound like a lot, but the stuff that has yet to be processed through your lungs is twice as potent. That is why right now is a good time to use methods that offer single hits, like vaporizers, or one-hitter pipes, that can be taken in one breathe. This small change alone will significantly reduce the chances of anyone experiencing a contact high.


4. Maintain good air circulation in the room

Have you ever sat in a room and puffed away on a joint while watching the dense clouds linger and slowly sink as they hover above the ground? This happens because the smoke is so thick, and most often, it occurs in rooms with poor air circulation, and in some cases, it will happen even with windows wide open and the door sealed, and to help it move along, it’s always a good idea to set up some proper air circulation.

Of course, a built-in exhaust or air purification system will always be most effective, but not everyone has that option, and they aren’t necessary to get the job done. All you really need is a fan or two facing in the right direction and you will find that the room clears out of second-hand smoke much faster and more efficiently than normal.

5. Allow for a waiting period to clear the room

After a good smoking session, especially one that takes place indoors, it can take a little while for the cannabis smoke to leave the room even if you have everything set up in the perfect place, so it’s a good idea to hang out for a little while before you wander back through the rest of your residence. Anywhere from ten to thirty minutes should be long enough to clear the room, and it’s really not hard to do when in exchange, it offers your roommates the ability to avoid a contact high.

Consider switching to other methods of ingestion

Even if you follow all of these guidelines, smoking cannabis could continue to irritate those around you, as the pungent scent isn’t something that is easily hidden in close quarters. In this case, it might be worth giving up the smoke temporarily, which can often be achieved with ease through a more health-conscious method on ingestion, such as patches, capsules, or edibles.

During this extraordinary time, it is important that we keep the health of ourselves and those closest to us a top priority, as the future is uncertain, and no one really needs the extra stress right now. We are all in this together, and it is important that we maintain respect and sympathy for everyone and anyone who is equally impacted by this unfortunate situation.

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