by Jenna Finley
Homecoming has come and gone for another year. An article about drinking alcohol and hangover cures would probably be beneficial to the portion of the university population that may have gone just a little too far this past weekend. However, with the new legislation that recently legalized recreational marijuana use, I thought it would be a good idea to take a more critical look at a new type of hangover that many have heard of and possibly been affected by: the “weed hangover”.
I was introduced to “weed hangovers” while watching a morning show and was immediately intrigued. When looking further into it, I found that multiple websites mentioned similar symptoms that constituted this hangover, including brain fog, dry mouth/dehydration, dry eyes, exhaustion, and dehydration. Plenty of listed possible cures and avoidance strategies included staying hydrated (both while and after smoking), avoiding overly salty foods, exercising the morning after, and sleeping – which, to be fair, all seem like great advice for general day-to-day life.
Most of the science associated with articles on this phenomenon are based on two research papers, which both have some glaring issues with their methodology. The first paper was published in the Drug and Alcohol Dependence journal and reported findings from a study that included 13 males who smoked either active marijuana cigarettes or placebo cigarettes. were given marijuana smokers who used either active or placebo marijuana. Researchers found significant differences between the active and placebo groups in a couple of what the paper calls ‘subjective effects,’ but none of them overlap with the symptoms listed on the previously mentioned websites. Additionally, the study has a very small sample size consisting of only males, took place over a single night, and the researchers themselves acknowledge that their findings are “subtle and of undetermined functional significance”. Therefore, it is overall difficult to draw strong conclusions from the paper or apply them to the concept of a hangover.
Looking now at the second article, published in the journal Pharmacology Biochemistry and Behavior, researchers examined 12 men over the course of two weekends after smoking marijuana. Despite being used as support for the existence of a ‘weed hangover’, the paper shows no conclusive proof that such a thing exists. In fact, the article itself says that “marijuana smoking was not [found to be] associated with a ‘hangover’ syndrome similar to those reported after use of alcohol or long-acting sedative-hypnotics.”
Both of these papers also seemed to employ very low doses of THC, and all of the participants were cited as being new to medium users of marijuana, which in turn narrows the applicability of these finding even further.
Other similar studies that investigate residual effects of marijuana use on mood, behaviour, and physiology have found little evidence for ‘marijuana hangovers’. However, it should be noted that the research in this area is sparse.
From the research presented, it seems that people may be applying the term “hangover” incorrectly when talking about marijuana use. That’s not to say that there is no withdrawal conditions associated with marijuana. As with most drugs, when a certain level of regular use and dependency is reached, withdrawal symptoms may appear after prolonged periods of abstaining from the drug. That being said, these withdrawal symptoms do not constitute a hangover.
Feel free to stay hydrated, sleep in, and avoid too much sodium, but that’s mostly just going to help with your general well-being. As of now, there doesn’t seem to be a “weed hangover” that these strategies are supposed to help with in the first place