Hotboxing is a common activity for marijuana smokers, particularly those who are young or who’ve seen a lot of stoner movies. The term is popular even among non-smokers, understood as smoking in a small and poorly ventilated space, a practice that allows the smoke to build up and permeate all surfaces. Does it work though?
Hotboxing is commonly done in a car or in a bathroom, covering the openings in doors and windows with towels or whatever is on hand. Usually done with some friends, hotboxing is efficient, preventing the smoke from leaving said space space and getting everyone involved very, very high. Sitting in a cloud of weed smoke sure sounds like a reliable way of absorbing as much cannabis as your body can, but the little science that’s available says otherwise.
A Johns Hopkins study from 2005 examined contact highs, which are the highs that occur from second-hand smoke. The study gathered some participants and split them into groups, looking into the effects of hotboxing. In one setting, six smokers and six nonsmokers entered a small and poorly ventilated space. Smokers were given 10 joints and were told to smoke over the course of an hour. The second setting involved all of these same factors with one key difference: the space was ventilated.
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“Data from active smokers who participated in multiple sessions were analyzed together and are presented together because their levels of cannabinoid exposure did not significantly differ as a function of room ventilation,” concluded the researchers. Despite the difference in setting and ventilation, there was no difference in the amount of cannabinoid levels in participants, with or without hotboxing.
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While research doesn’t support hotboxing, anecdotal evidence says that people get higher when smoking in these clustered spaces. There are many theories as to why this might happen, whether it’s the amount of smoke that increases eye irritation and makes people feel and look more high, or the fact that you’re with friends and are experiencing a group high.
While the cannabinoid levels may stay the same when hotboxing, the experience changes, and that can make all of the difference. As long as you’re staying safe, if hotboxing works for you, keep hotboxing.