Secondhand marijuana smoke can cause range of detectable effects, study finds

Marijuana's active ingredient can show up in tests even for nonsmokers, if they've had concentrated exposure to secondhand smoke.

That's one of the findings from the first comprehensive study on secondhand marijuana smoke since the 1980s, conducted by the Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine. In the decades since then, the potency of the drug, in its street form, has tripled.

The new study, published this month in The Journal of Drug and Alcohol Dependence), tested secondhand exposure under "extreme conditions" in an unventilated room filled with pot smoke. After spending an hour in such conditions, nonsmokers showed "positive drug effects in the first few hours, a mild sense of intoxication, and mild impairment on measures of cognitive performance," said study author Ryan Vandrey, associate professor of psychiatry and behavioral science at Hopkins.

In addition, detectable amounts of THC—tetrahydrocannabinol, pot's active ingredient—showed up in their blood and...

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