If you've ever been to a Grateful Dead tribute concert and didn't smoke pot, then you likely still experienced a pretty intense contact high. Or did you?
Apparently, the research is a little hazy when it comes to contact highs. A few decades ago, a team of Norwegian scientists hot-boxed a car to test the contact high theory (and possibly torture a few interns). The ten volunteers had never smoked marijuana before the study, and half of them smoked joints while the other half simply breathed in the smokey air.
Researchers found that only certain participants got mildly high while others did not. Surprisingly, none of the volunteers reported actually feeling stoned. They did, however, report feeling uncomfortable, as anyone likely would after sitting in a car crammed with people and pot smoke for hours.
In another study published in Clinical Pharmacology and Therapeutics, subjects sat next to a machine that "smoked" 16 joints over the course of an hour. By the end, they found participants did feel stoned, but the contact high of 16 joints had the same effect of smoking just one joint.
For a more decisive opinion, look no further than weed expert, Cecilia J. Hillard, a professor of pharmacology and the director of the Neuroscience Research Center at the Medical College of Wisconsin. She told Business Insider,
... the 'contact high' is purely a psychological phenomenon.
Turns out our lungs are very skilled at trapping the THC in marijuana, aka the stuff that gets you stoned. Once you exhale that smoke back into the air, there's very little THC to go around, which is bad news for concert goers looking to get high for free.
OK, so you can't get high from your babysitter's dank-smelling Honda Civic. But can you still get high from pot merely touching your skin?
As you may have guessed, this is where the homemade pot lotion comes in. I'm a big fan of canna butter in general (pot/coconut oil specifically), and everyone knows that, depending on their strength, edibles can get you super-duper stoned. My mom generally makes my canna butter for me -- because she's a gangster, obviously -- and she swears she gets high every time it touches her skin.
But I don't believe a word she says because: A) She gets paranoid without pot, and B) She's a lightweight. While I'm no heavy-hitter myself, I can at least handle a few fat bong rips without freaking the f*ck out.
So why not lather weed-infused coconut oil all over my body? I'll do anything at least once for the sake of my favorite subjects; science and weed.
On a day when I was "working" from home, I grabbed a spoonful and proceeded to spread it on like any old sober lotion. I tend to use plain, unmedicated coconut oil as a post-shave salve for baby-soft skin anyway, so the thought of getting oiled up didn't put me off at all.
It also just happened to be 4:20 as I rubbed pot oil into a dry patch on my knee. You can't even plan sh*t this perfectly, you guys. It was obviously meant to be.
The only problem is that my dog is obsessed with coconut oil. He -- no joke -- tries to lick it off my ankles every time I lather up. So I made sure to wear pants, socks and long sleeves, lest he get stoned out of his little doggy mind.
My skin now thoroughly conditioned with weed, I went back outdoors to do some work under the shade of our orange tree while Benji puttered around the garden. As I typed away, a gentle breeze brushed my cheek, carrying with it the ambrosial scent of orange blossoms and universal oneness.
Yeah, it didn't take long for me to feel completely, utterly stoned.
But it wasn't the kind of head high, or even full-body edible high I've become accustomed to. I felt more relaxed than anything, like I was constantly on the brink of sinking into the world's most relaxing nap. With a pleasant, dull buzz coursing through my body, you could say my skin got pretty stoned, too.
Could this replace my usual bong rip before bedtime routine? Absolutely. And with most canna butter recipes calling for shake or crappy weed remnants, weed lotion could be an affordable alternative.
So, to conclude this informal study, yes, you can get very stoned from touching weed. But from sniffing a stale plume of pot smoke blowing your way? Don't get paranoid on me now.