The words “You’ve got to cough to get higher” have been uttered in smoke circles since the dawn of time. The basic philosophy behind this less than Shakespearean declaration is that a cannabis user isn’t really achieving his or her true potential in the realm of all highness unless their lungs recoil in horror after a vicious hit. It has been said that this spontaneous act of the lungs working desperately to dispel all of the pot smoke from this vital organ is the magic key to another dimension. One that allows the ingested THC to invade undiscovered crevasses in the brain and ultimately elevate the desired marijuana mayhem to higher heights than what they could have ever achieved sans hack.
And while it’s good to believe in something, we’re not so sure this the kind of gospel you want to keep by your nightstand.
Let’s begin this exploration into the cannabis coughing phenomenon in agreement. Anyone who has ever taken a monstrous hit off a bong only to find themselves seconds later double over in a wicked coughing fit, all lobster-faced and on the verge of blacking out can attest: It does feel like we’re higher after choking on it.
Die-hards of the “coughing gets you higher” scene often explain this occurrence as the result of one’s lungs expanding, allowing the THC to infiltrate spaces typically unexposed, thereby forcing more of this psychoactive compound into the bloodstream and wham: A higher perspective.
It turns out there might be something to this. But it’s a big might. When a person coughs, the lungs actually become more inflated, if you can imagine, than they do after even the biggest of hits. This, in theory, could allow increased THC levels to reach more of those little sacs called alveoli and amplify the buzz.
But still, while this concept makes sense, it also doesn’t.
It only takes a matter of seconds for most of the THC that is going to be absorbed into the body to take hold. No matter what some hipster college punk tries to tell you, powering through a hit of weed any longer than three seconds is a waste. But toss a cough into the mix, and all sorts of bizarre happenings start to arise: more oxygen pours into the body reducing the concentration of THC, making less of it available in the blood. This means we’ve had it all backwards. Coughing actually prevents a cannabis user from reaching maximum intoxication. The new normal should be trying not to cough.
We know, we know. You swear to everything sacred and holy that you get even more stoned to the bone after a solid coughing jag. But it is really the same story as that one guy in your circle who always feels the need to hold in his hits for 30-seconds or longer to get the optimal effects from his pot smoking dollar. In spite of the science showing that three seconds is all that is necessary, this guy remains convinced that he has to nearly knock himself unconscious on the coffee table to get really high.
But it’s all an illusion. It’s a trick the body plays when we, as dumb humans, mess with the natural order of its ability to function. When a person holds in a hit like they are training to become a Navy SEAL, they are really just depriving the body of oxygen, suffering a drop in blood pressure and set to experience a certain level of dizziness once they try to breathe again. To this person, might we advise inhaling deeper when you take a hit instead of holding it in longer? That’s the real secret to getting higher. Or maybe a helmet?
A similar reaction happens when a person endures a mega coughing fit after taking a hit of weed. They are not getting more stoned. Their brains are merely in fear of a total collapse and gasping for air. The higher feeling is the reverberation of the body fighting to protect itself from the cloud of smoke. Once the body realizes that it is not about to be snuffed out by some plume of alien death, the high felt by the coughing cannabis enthusiast as opposed to the others that didn’t just hack up a lung are comparable.
Weed is supposed to be fun, not dangerous. Try not to have an aneurysm out there.
TELL US, have you ever heard that coughing gets you higher?