Cannabis Myths: Does Coughing Get You Higher?

You may have heard the phrase, “if you’re not choking, you’re not smoking” during a cannabis smoke session before. However, theories surrounding the cannabis cough don’t just touch on its ubiquitousness, but also its ability to get you higher. While some smokers swear by the cannabis cough, others have it pinned down as a myth. Not surprisingly, even scientists have gotten involved in the cannabis cough debate. This week, we decided to explore the science behind this cannabis myth and find out whether it truly makes a difference in your smoke session.

The Science of Inhaling

The scientific reason people feel a buzz or high from smoking cannabis is, in part, because the heart rate increases within a few minutes of inhaling. The level at which your heart rate increases can be anywhere between 20 to 50 beats a minute for up to 3 hours. The increase in your heart rate gives you a rush that is coupled with tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) interacting with the brain, making you feel happy and euphoric. Although it is inhaling, not necessarily coughing, that will make you feel high, some argue that the size of the hit is also a factor.

Bigger Hits, Higher Highs

Science has proven that there is a maximum capacity of oxygen that lungs can inhale at one given time, which is five-to-six millilitres per minute. However, when it comes to smoking cannabis, 95% of THC is absorbed within the first few seconds of taking a hit. Therefore, if a cannabis user inhales a larger than normal hit, not only will they feel higher but their lungs will also be more irritated from the smoke, causing them to cough. After all, the need to cough arises when your lungs experience irritation and need to expel air in a large burst.

Lack of Oxygen

While some argue that coughing is a sign of a big hit, rather than a higher high, there are some theories to suggest that coughing can make you higher. This is because the physical act of coughing causes a person to sputter, their lungs to compress, and creates a lack of oxygen. It’s this momentary lack of oxygen in the brain that can actually heighten the feeling of a cannabis high, making its effects more noticeable and your high seem more intense. Nonetheless, health professionals suggest that if you often experience coughing fits while smoking, it’s best to listen to your body and slow down. 

Our Verdict on the Cannabis Cough

Upon evaluating all the facts, it’s clear to us that the high associated with the cannabis cough can easily be attributed to the size of the hit. That is to say that a larger than normal hit could lead to a higher than normal absorption rate of THC, as well as a more irritated lungs that need a cough to feel better. However, the act of coughing can also intensify a person’s high due to the lack of oxygen to the brain. So, while we’re no scientists, we have to say that the cannabis cough myth certainly has some truth to it. 

Time to Enjoy

What’s your take on the cannabis cough? We’re all ears, so let us know your thoughts in the comment section down below! If you’re searching for more cannabis education and helpful infographics, be sure to visit our Instagram. Those looking to learn about the Canadian cannabis space and ways to smoke, check out the Parkdale Brass blog. While you’re at it, have a gander at our online shop and our functional, rugged, and timeless brass accessories.




U are LYING to me bc guess what? I just fricken smoked and coughed and will verify that I am intact way more zooted bc I coughed. A lot. Why lie? Why do men do this? I hate men. Assassin ALL MENNNN now. Anyways I’m gonna drink now ttyl.

Hey August 14, 2022

U are LYING to me bc guess what? I just fricken smoked and coughed and will verify that I am intact way more zooted bc I coughed. A lot. Why lie? Why do men do this? I hate men. Assassin ALL MENNNN now. Anyways I’m gonna drink now ttyl.

Hey August 14, 2022

So I have smoked a good bit bad good great stuff and vapes on vapes legal and def not legal well I can tell you I don’t know if it stimulates something your heart head blood pumping harder or not but i defiantly feel a difference

Aly August 14, 2022

what if you sneeze while you have lungs full of smoke? i just did it (by accident) and it hurt! did i fuck up my lungs? :(

jarret September 20, 2022

Good point there, El Jarado! There’s definitely more to the story!

Parkdale Brass May 08, 2022

I dont think this totally explains it, because the phenomenon people talk about when they cough hard and get “higher”, while i agree that getting higher is probably not what is happening, there is more to it. Its more of a dizzy spell that occurs after coughing particularly hard, in which can lead to your sight being affected, your sense of time is distorted, and some other effects that are hard to put to words.

El Jarado May 08, 2022

I enjoy when I hold it in long enough where u get that light headed feeling for a minute or so it’s awesome! Definitely a “pro” of holing cannabis in longer. Sometimes I get a real good one where my vision gets fuzzy and my whole body buzzes for a short time. Also amazing!

Bob percangle January 07, 2022

As an asthma sufferer coughing is regular. But I am able to enjoy the coughless hit often, which I prefer

Chicago October 29, 2021

Hey Dolly, the type of cannabis it is mostly certainly makes a difference. Some simple ways to avoid the cannabis cough are taking smaller hits or using a percolator on your bong. However, if you are growing it yourself, factors like how old the weed is, whether any pesticides were used, or if the cannabis was cured properly can all factor into whether or not you cough.

Parkdale Brass October 22, 2021

It has a lot to do with the weed you’re smoking. Don’t you think? Don’t know if that’s good or bad just wanting to know if harvesting had something to do with it? Should I harvest sooner or cure it different or like the other guy says you have to cough to get off?

Dolly D October 22, 2021

Hey Jason F, yes the effects are definitely short lived!

Parkdale Brass October 14, 2021

cough to get off HAHA but i agree i feel like when u cough it only heightens the effects for a few minutes

jason f October 14, 2021

Hey Jason, we’ve heard that as well! There is still plenty of research to be done on the subject, but we agree that if you cough, you’ll likely feel the effects of cannabis more!

Parkdale Brass May 19, 2021

i was always told u got to cough to get off and the more u cough the better it is

Jason Beal May 19, 2021

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