Medically Reviewed by
Jason Crawford

Article Last Updated on January 11, 2023

However strange it sounds, most seasoned weed users will admit one thing – that they’ve done a Google search on weed and BO at least once after noticing that their sweat smells a lot like weed. Maybe it was the day after a friendly (but long) bong session when you noticed that your underarms emit a familiar smell and it got you wondering – could that really be the smell of weed?

Well, you’re not weird for thinking that. In fact, if you really do Google anything on it, you’ll come across tons of questions and discussions posted by weed users on online forums like Reddit and Quora. It seems like this phenomenon is experienced by cannabis smokers all around the world, so we thought we’d discuss it today and offer some answers.

Why Do We Sweat?

The main purpose of sweating is to control the temperature of the body and prevent it from overheating. There are millions of sweat glands found on the human body and they belong to two groups, depending on where they’re found and what their function is. 

The first group is called eccrine sweat glands and they’re found on most surfaces of the body. Their job is to cool the body off by secreting water which will later evaporate. 

The second group is called apocrine glands and they are found in isolated positions, namely, the armpits, some parts of the genitals, scalp, ear canals, eyelids, and breasts. When people talk about odor, they refer to the sweat produced by these sweat glands. Apocrine glands produce an oily secretion when they’re primarily triggered by emotional stress or sexual arousal.

In general, sweat is odorless, but the sweat produced by your apocrine glands comes into contact with the bacteria that’s a natural part of your skin microbiome, a chemical reaction happens and you start sniffing the change in the air. Basically, these bacteria really like the components of apocrine sweat and they start to break it down which releases an odor.

Can Human Sweat Really Smell Like Weed?

Eating garlic and onions, as well as drinking alcohol are well-known offenders that can temporarily change the way our sweat smells. It seems like our it reflects the things we eat and drink, so it’s normal to ask the same question about weed.

We know smoking weed gives you the munchies and cottonmouth, but does it really give you a “weed BO?” Probably. Let us elaborate.

Despite all the anecdotal evidence of weed smokers smelling the weed in their sweat, there aren’t any clinical studies done on this subject. However, two expert researchers have offered their professional takes on this phenomenon.

Dr. Matan Shelomi, a researcher at Germany’s Max Planck Institute for Chemical Ecology, has shared the findings of her individual research. She discovered that out of the 233 chemical compounds found in cannabis and 100 found in human sweat, 11 compounds matched. She also suggests that the weed smell is most likely secreted by the apocrine glands.

Dr. Justin Fischedick, a researcher at the Institute of Biological Chemistry at Washington State University, has also offered his two cents on the subject. He proposes that it’s the terpenes present in weed that are responsible for the smell. Terpenes are the chemical compounds that make cannabis so fragrant, and just like cannabinoids THC and CBD, they are fat-soluble. This means they get stored in the fat cells until the body gradually eliminates them through sweat.

What Can You Do About the Smell of Marijuana Under Your Armpits?

Since many of the things we eat and drink influence our sweat, it seems like there isn’t much that you can do about cannabis-scented sweat. As with any unwanted odor, you can try to mask it with a deodorant on a daily basis. Alternatively, if you’re worried about weed smell giving you away at an important event, you can try to abstain from weed at least two days beforehand, just to be on the safe side.

Four Other Things That Smell a Lot Like Mary Jane

Marijuana has a very distinctive odor, it’s true, but since we’re on the topic of weed smell, we thought it’d be fun to share what else smells really similar to weed. Consider this as an attempt to make light of those situations when our sweat gave away how many doobies we had that week and take consolation in the fact that we’re not the only ones reeking of weed.

Caucasian Crosswort Plant

The plant called Caucasian crosswort is a very fragrant plant with narrow aromatic leaves and clusters of small pink flowers. Its smell resembles the smell of cannabis so much that once a house of an elderly couple in a village in the UK was robbed by masked men looking for marijuana. 

Spider Flowers

You may not believe it, but spider flowers smell like minty cannabis. Their appearance also resembles marijuana, as spider flowers have a weedy appearance, especially their leaves. However, their flowers are in different shades of pink when they’re in full bloom, so you can’t mistake one for the other.


Does weed smell like skunks or do skunks smell like weed? That they smell like each other shouldn’t come as a surprise as some strains of weed are said to have a skunky smell. However, there is a scientific explanation for this – some of the terpenes found in marijuana smell exactly like the smelly chemical compounds found in skunks.

Axe Body Spray

We saved the most outlandish for last. Axe is one of the most well-known brands that produce grooming products for men, most notably body sprays. Their line of deodorants named Touch smells eerily similar to weed. When you spray it, you’re engulfed by a pungent and familiar smell that you can’t mistake for anything else but weed. 

Whether this is intentional or not doesn’t even matter, it just gives you an excuse to say that it’s your deodorant if you ever find yourself in a sticky situation.

The Takeaway – It’s Really Not That Bad

Even though the effect of weed on sweat is yet to be scientifically proven, the abundance of anecdotal evidence coupled with research provided by professionals points to the fact that this is a very common phenomenon. 

If it makes you feel uncomfortable, you can always try to mask it with a deodorant (except for Axe’s Touch) or abstain from weed a couple of days before an important event. Otherwise, it seems like there isn’t anything else you can do.

That said, since weed imparts its smell on our sweat, it seems like dank weed will make you smell the dankest, and that may not be such a bad thing.

A passionate advocate for the benefits of cannabis. Fraser Horton, who has a background in botany and a strong love of nature, has spent years researching how cannabis affects the body and mind. He established Leaf Nation in 2020, where he has devoted himself to educating people about the legalisation of marijuana and its safe and responsible use. Fraser is committed to highlighting cannabis’ potential for improving wellness and working to dispel the stigma associated with its use.


The information presented on this page is provided as a public service to aid in education and is derived from sources believed to be reliable. Readers are responsible for making their own assessment of the topics discussed here. In no event shall Leaf Nation be held reliable for any injury, loss or damage that could happen if using or abusing drugs.