Is it beneficial to smoke weed before getting a tattoo?

Published Feb 5, 2021 10:00 a.m. ET
iStock / dimid_86

We know that cannabinoids can help to relieve painful symptoms of a variety of different medical conditions, as it’s the number one reason behind why cannabis is prescribed. It can help to reduce inflammation, nerve sensitivity, and more, plus it’s great at melting away the stress. The thing is that there are different types of pain, and not all of them are equally taken away by cannabis.

Tattoos can be an exciting and memorable journey that will last a lifetime, but not everyone has what it takes to get one because sitting for hours on end while a tiny needle injects ink into somewhere on the body isn't’ generally described as a soothing or good feeling. Even the biggest ink fiends out there will still admit that it can hurt, and that is especially true if you’re getting hit in a more sensitive area.

Some people find tattoos way too painful to bear, sparking demand for effective products like numbing cream that can help to take the edge off, but those effects are topical and temporary, so they are only going to help so much. For many, these cheap solutions don’t provide any relief from the painful twinge caused by the tattoo gun, but what about cannabis?

Is it ok to smoke weed before getting a tattoo, and if it is, could it provide a more intense level of relief than numbing cream? These are questions that are becoming increasingly more common now that legalization is pretty much everywhere, but unfortunately, the answer is a whole lot more complicated than you might think.

The jury is still out

Usually, we like to look towards the experts for the right answer to these kinds of questions, but if you look, you’ll see that whether getting high before a session is a good idea is a highly debated topic because we simply have no data to consider, aside from some pain-related studies that suggested cannabis could actually increase sensitivity to pain rather than dull it.

Some professionals claim that if you’re going to smoke weed before getting tattooed, it should at least be a CBD strain, which could theoretically have a higher chance of providing relief during a long stint of ink. But of course, there is very little for evidence to suggest that it would work, at least not in the immediate sense.

CBD for healing

We know that CBD can have a significant impact on the pain that is caused due to inflammation, something that fresh tattoos are notorious for, so a good dose of CBD before, during, or after getting ink should be a pretty safe call that might improve more than how much you hurt. It might also help to speed up the healing process, which would preserve the integrity of the ink, as well as getting you back to life without a burning sensation that is normal at this time.

THC effects

The effects of THC are far less predictable than CBD, and the results of using it can end up working (or not) in 1 of 3 ways.

1. It makes the pain worse, or it could take it away

Getting high could make you more sensitive to all of the tiny vibrations, which would make the whole experience hurt more than it probably would have, had you been sober. On the other hand, it could work to numb the painful burn of the needle. Unfortunately, there is no way to know until you try.

2. It relaxes or makes you panic

Tattoos can be stressful, so you might be thinking that even if it doesn’t work for pain, it might help to soothe the nerves. In some cases, this is true, and a few tokes could have you melting into the chair, completely relaxed the whole time, but for some people, cannabis might just make things worse. As you might know, THC is known for its ability to cause panic or fear, and if you’re going into an environment where you know you’ll be nervous, just a small amount of this cannabinoid could be the tipping point that sends you running out the door halfway through a session.

3. It can help to calm the symptoms of healing

This really is the best and only time that we can in good conscious recommend that all cannabis enthusiasts utilize the benefits of the plant because by this point, the hardest part of the experience is over, and all that’s left to do is rest. Since you won’t be in a high-stress situation anymore, you’ll be able to go home, get stoned, eat, and then pass out so that you can heal without too much discomfort, without risking making anything worse.

Sobriety requirements

One of the most important things to remember if you’re struggling with deciding on what to do is that many artists require patrons to sign a waiver of liability that promises the person in the chair stone-cold sober. In many cases, you’ll find that the only banned substance is alcohol, but some have begun to prohibit cannabis use based on bad experiences with prior clients. To avoid getting turned away at the door and losing any guarantee on your work, it is essential that you have this conversation with the parlor you plan on attending.

A trial run

If you have decided that cannabis is something you want to try, then we highly recommend a trial run before committing to any significant length of time. That way, if you have a bad reaction or just don’t like the way that it makes you feel, you won’t be forced to continue or hook financially for a much longer booking.

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