Fraser Horton
Fraser Horton
Last Updated on September 1, 2021

While the cannabis plant has been around for ages, new cannabis products have hit the cannabis market. Recently, people have been trying new ways of marijuana consumption apart from smoking and vaping, such as nasal cannabis sprays, but what happens when you give sniffing marijuana a go?

As legalization laws are becoming more common, does this mean that the road is paved for new marijuana products? Whether you need marijuana for medical use, or you use it recreationally, below you’ll find all the information you need on sniffing weed, and cannabis nasal sprays which were all the rage last year in the United States. 

How Marijuana Gets Absorbed in the Body?

When cannabinoids enter our system they bind to our cannabinoid receptors (CB receptors). There are two CB receptors located in the human body, called CB1 and CB2. While CB1 resides in the brain and nervous system, CB2 is located in the gastrointestinal and immune systems.

When you inhale marijuana (smoking marijuana or vaping it), the THC or CBD attaches to the molecules of the cannabinoid receptors and activates them. Afterward, the brain’s reward system activates which is the system responsible for healthy pleasurable behaviors, like eating. THC stimulates this system and as a result, the levels of dopamine increase in the body and the flow of dopamine gives the “high” effect to marijuana users. 

Depending on your preferred method of consumption, the body processes marijuana differently. That is why when you’re inhaling marijuana the high is almost instant as it reaches the lungs and then the brain, unlike when you’re consuming edibles. 

When consuming edibles, the body first needs to absorb the cannabinoids through the digestive system, and from there the ingredients enter the bloodstream and the liver. Afterward, the liver metabolizes the active ingredients, they return to the bloodstream, enter the brain, and the first effects appear. 

But what happens when you sniff these cannabinoids through the nose?

Can You Snort Marijuana?

Smoking marijuana may cause some short-term effects like anxiety, paranoia, and increased heart rate and blood pressure, and long term effects like chronic cough, bronchitis, or maybe even schizophrenia in people with higher genetic risk. But, perhaps sniffing it may provide other benefits.

New nasal sprays that contain weed’s main cannabinoids Delta-9-tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) or Cannabidiol (CBD) have appeared on the weed market. Apart from the CBD and/ or THC, the nasal sprays contain a saline solution, and they’re likely to relieve stuffy noses, and maybe even combat inflammation, seizures, as well as other neurological disorders.

Since this method is very efficient in crossing the blood-brain barrier, it might increase the absorption speed, as well as the bioavailability. Moreover, with this method, you avoid the inhalation of burnt plant matter which may cause a number of conditions related to the respiratory system, and consume the amount of THC or CBD you need. This method may be useful for medical marijuana users since it’s a more discreet way of administering doses.

But nasal sprays may cause side effects in users like rebound congestion, which is a condition where the nasal passages become used to the spray, and as a result of continuous use, they become less responsive to the medication. That can cause users to develop a dependency on the medication, which can increase their cannabis consumption. 

Possible Side Effects From Inhaling Secondhand Smoke

Another way you could experience the effects of marijuana is when inhaling secondhand smoke. According to drugabuse.gov, the official page of the National Institute on Drug Abuse, secondhand marijuana smoke inhalation:

  • May result in a high in enclosed spaces for nonsmokers when other people are smoking marijuana with high levels of THC. (Xiaoyin Wang et al, 2016)
  • May affect heart and blood vessels as much as secondhand tobacco smoke.
  • Is especially harmful to children and people with asthma.

Apart from that, a study done on nonsmokers’ exposure to secondhand marijuana smoke in an unventilated room shows that “secondhand marijuana smoke can increase the heart rate, and result in performance impairment on some behavioral/cognitive assessments”. If you suspect that you might experience performance impairment and other cognitive impairments, you shouldn’t drive a motorized vehicle

Moreover, as marijuana smoke can raise the possibility of lung cancer and lung disease, it’s possible that it can be a public health concern for people who inhale marijuana smoke secondhand. (Donald P Tashkin et al, 2013)

If you’d like to avoid these possible side effects, it’s a good idea to ventilate rooms where cannabis is smoked, and if you do happen to be in an unventilated room, and you feel some changes as a result of the smoke, make sure you don’t get behind the wheel. 

Marijuana and Drug Abuse

Marijuana use is on the rise according to the World Drug Report for 2020, especially with young people. As there are consequences when it comes to consuming marijuana long term, drug use is becoming an even bigger problem since people are at home, struggling with isolation and mental health as a result of the Covid-19 lockdowns.

More and more people have started to develop substance use disorders, and people who already have addictions may experience worse outcomes according to a report by the NIDA. If you’re a person who struggles with drug abuse, there are various addiction treatment options available. All you need to do is contact your health care practitioner who can help you get the proper treatment program tailored to your specific needs in order to help you get on the road to recovery, as well as help you with the common withdrawal symptoms.

Final Thoughts on Snorting Marijuana

As the legal and medical use of marijuana is changing rapidly, new cannabis products appear on the market that aim to provide a variety of consumption methods for marijuana users. Great examples are THC or CBD nasal sprays. 

These new cannabis products may be a good way for medical marijuana consumers to administer proper doses of weed discreetly, as well as relieve a stuffy nose. But it should be done in moderation, as this method of cannabis consumption can cause rebound congestion.

No matter whether you want to get on board with the THC nasal spray users or not, make sure that, if you do decide to try these weed products, you always start with a low dose. And most importantly, make sure that weed is legal where you live before purchasing cannabis products, otherwise you might have a problem with local law enforcement and maybe even face charges.

Additional Sources

Wang, X., Derakhshandeh, R., Liu, J., Narayan, S., Nabavizadeh, P., Le, S., Danforth, O. M., Pinnamaneni, K., Rodriguez, H. J., Luu, E., Sievers, R. E., Schick, S. F., Glantz, S. A., & Springer, M. L. (2016). One Minute of Marijuana Secondhand Smoke Exposure Substantially Impairs Vascular Endothelial Function. Journal of the American Heart Association, 5(8), e003858. https://doi.org/10.1161/JAHA.116.003858

Tashkin D. P. (2013). Effects of marijuana smoking on the lung. Annals of the American Thoracic Society, 10(3), 239–247. https://doi.org/10.1513/AnnalsATS.201212-127FR

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