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.




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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