why does marijuana make you cough

Why Does Marijuana Make You Cough?

Find me a cannabis smoker who hasn’t experienced that dreaded cough after inhaling the smoke, and I’ll cover you in gold. It starts innocently, when you feel a tickle in your throat. However, that tickle triggers the coughing that, in some cases, is difficult to stop and some people continue to cough with every next hit they take.

So what are the culprit behind the weed cough? Does coughing actually get you higher? And what about inhaling the smoke to get more stoned? Here is what you need to know about cannabis and coughing.

Why Does Cannabis Make You Cough?

When you cough after taking a hit, this may happen for several reasons: it may be the harsh smoke or too big a hit, or – which is the worst case scenario – the indicator that you’re smoking some shady stuff. Let’s elaborate on this for a bit.

Your Lungs Are Not Designed to Inhale Smoke

It’s a dead giveaway, isn’t it? After all, your lungs are designed to breath in air, not smoke.

If you think that it is the marijuana smoke that makes you cough, I regret to say you’re mistaken. Ask any tobacco smoker, and they will tell you right away that the first time they took a hit from a cigarette, they coughed like crazy.

As for the marijuana smoke, it consists of tiny stable, liquid particles which irritate lungs and make it difficult for you to breathe properly. Such an alarming signal is transferred to your brain, which results in coughing.

Nevertheless, our lungs – like every other organ – are very adaptive, so you can ‘exercise’ them to cough less when you become a seasoned cannabis smoker. Remember that smoking pure weed may be harder for your lungs than if you mixed it with, say, tobacco or some other, safer substitute.

The Heat Is Too Strong

Heat is one of the major cause of coughing after taking a hit. When you smoke cannabis, the material will combust as a result of the intense heat that activates THC in your buds, the cannabinoid that is responsible for making you high on weed.

However, this intense heat comes with one serious drawback – it’s the cause of your lung irritation. Lungs and its tissues are very sensitive, so they get easily irritated by the hot smoke. Therefore, if you want to avoid that inconvenience, purchasing a vaporizer may be a considerable option. Vaporization heats your plant material to the optimal temperature instead of burning it. As a result, not only will you get rid of the marijuana cough, but you’ll also keep your lungs safe while getting the most out of your strain.

That Gargantuan Hit Was Way Too Much

Why does weed make you cough? Well, maybe, just maybe because you took too large a hit from your smoking device?

You see, if you’re a tall and massive person, you’re “predestined” to taking giant hits. On the other hand, being short and slim means that you have a smaller lung capacity. Thus, you cannot fill that much smoke in your lungs and you’ll eventually burst out coughing.

When approaching a pipe or bong for the first time, start with baby steps. It’s tempting to inhale all that sexy milky smoke right to your lungs and get a few levels higher with your buds, but is it worth spitting your lungs out? Bongs, pipes, and dab rigs entail the highest risk of taking a hit that’s too large, so again, you might want to switch to a vape pen for a little change – or, if like me, you love joints and blunts, roll one up and take it easy.

You Smoke Low Quality Weed

Last but not least, if you’re smoking some bad quality plant, you can be more than sure that you’ll start coughing. These may be product irritants that are used for curing the weed, as well as mold, mildew, dust, residual pesticides, and other random particles that took over your nugs.

When you inhale all these particles into your lungs, this will make your smoking experience a nightmare.

That being said, always look for the top-notch quality nugs from a credible source. Pesticides, as well as mildews, can trigger allergic reactions, which will intensify the cough, so it’s in your best interest to avoid bad weed.

How to Cough Less When Smoking Weed?

Sometimes, coughing is the inevitable part of blazing up, but how to cough less when you smoke weed? Is it possible in the first place?

You might just as well turn to edibles or vaporizers if you want to completely avoid coughing, but if that is not an option – which I understand because I love smoking weed myself – here are some tricks to consider if you want to minimize the suffering.

Take Smaller Hits

Looks like Captain Obvious just landed! As I mentioned before, if you’re not the biggest type of a guy, giant hits may make you cough like a chimney, so if you want to experience less discomfort, I suggest you to try taking smaller hits. Believe me, your lungs will be thankful for such an act of mercifulness.

Don’t Hesitate On the Inhale

Pot smokers who cough a lot generally don’t take deep breaths because they somehow hesitate on the inhale. Now, if the smoke gets stuck in your throat, coughing will be a natural reaction. With that said, you should inhale the smoke deeply into your lungs so that it comes quickly through your throat. Remember that the smoke from weed is denser than tobacco, not to mention that it moves slower, so the deeper you breath, the better!

Use a Percolator Bong

A percolator adds additional water chamber to the main shaft of the bong tube. This gives you an extra chamber to filter the smoke and cool it down before you take a hit and inhale the smoke. As a result, the entire experience is easier on both your throat and lungs. If you don’t want to buy a separate glass piece for extra filtration, try a diffuser that will break up the smoke into lots of bubbles before it enters the main chamber.

Mix Weed With Something

I wouldn’t recommend tobacco, though. When you mix weed and tobacco to roll a spliff, you take the risk of inhaling toxic substances like carcinogens to your bodies. Moreover, the tar that builds up from the tobacco smoke is deadly for your lungs, and you don’t want to build up twice as much tar by mixing these two. Nonetheless, a spliff won’t hit you as hard as pure weed, so it’s still an option if you’re desperate.

Fortunately, there are some other materials you can substitute tobacco with. For example, you can smoke weed with chamomile, yerba mate, green tea, or other herbs. They are safer to smoke than tobacco, and they can add an intricate scent to your spliff.

Does Coughing Get You Higher?

This question is as old as cannabis itself, so it’s high time we answered it once and for all.

Many cannabis smokers claim that coughing makes them experience a more intense high than when they don’t cough. These theory escalated so quickly that one of the first things you’ll hear when trying to wipe your tears and clear the throat is something like this:

“That’s good, man. That’s good. Coughing will make you super high!”

Well, will it? Let’s see what science has to say about it.

When you cough after inhaling cannabis smoke, it all starts with a sharp but deep breath. The breath is followed by a rapid compression of your lungs and results in a sudden burst of air within a second.

Coughing, then, is basically a natural reaction to defend your lungs by blasting irritating and toxic particles out of your system. It doesn’t make you any higher, but that short deep breath you take – it does. Simply put, the breath creates more surface in your lungs for THC.

So, technically speaking, coughing does make you higher but not for the reasons this myth has been spread. As a matter of fact, continuous coughing after hitting a bowl deprives your brain of oxygen, which is why you may feel like the herb kicked you harder. The truth is that temporary lack of oxygen makes you experience dizziness that is confusingly similar to the feeling of THC kicking in with increased power.

This brings us to another question, “Can holding smoke in your lungs make you higher?”

Holding in your hits results in the same oxygen deprivation as in the case of coughing. It’s the light-headedness, a drop in blood pressure, and sudden dizziness you feel when you hold the smoke in your lungs for a few seconds more.

Bottom line? Get your facts straight and don’t spread the myth ever again.

Final Cough

Let’s be honest, coughing after taking a giant hit may happen even to the most savvy stoner, so it’s nothing to be ashamed of.

Why does weed make you cough? To begin with, your lungs are not meant to inhale smoke. Furthermore, the intense heat at which your plant burns can irritate your lungs, which will trigger a defensive reaction. It may very well happen that your lungs capacity doesn’t allow for taking giant rips from bongs, so don’t try to impress people at the cost of your smoking experience. Finally, if you buy low quality weed, or the herb goes bad for some reason, this may also be the reason why you cough when you inhale the marijuana smoke.

Can’t wait to use cannabis without this dreadful cough? Switch to edibles or buy a vaporizer to heat the herb instead of combusting it. Smokers have their ways to cough less when smoking weed, too. If you can’t resist your daily bong, incorporate a diffuser or percolator into the main tube, or simply buy a percolator bong.

Last but not least, remember that coughing gets you higher, but it’s not coughing per se that enhances your buzz – it’s the deep, short breath you take when inhaling smoke. Oh, and don’t hold the smoke in for too long; you’re only depriving your brain from the oxygen, which has been wrongly associated with making you more high.

They say that practice makes perfect – let’s light one up, then!

Why Does Marijuana Make You Cough? Find me a cannabis smoker who hasn’t experienced that dreaded cough after inhaling the smoke, and I’ll cover you in gold. It starts innocently, when you feel a

Why Does Weed Make You Cough?

If you’ve experienced a coughing fit after smoking cannabis, you’re not alone. It’s a common, natural response to smoke inhalation.

Sometimes, though, coughing can occur even when you’re not smoking. This is more likely to happen if you regularly smoke cannabis.

To learn why smoking cannabis can make you cough, read on. We’ll also explore how smoking cannabis might affect lung health, along with the risk of lung cancer.

Your throat and lungs are lined with sensory nerves. They work to detect irritating substances, like smoke, in your airways.

If you inhale an irritant, the nerves send signals throughout your respiratory tract. This produces a cough reflex, which helps you get rid of the irritating substance. The goal is to protect your respiratory tract, and ultimately, your lungs.

This is what happens when you smoke cannabis. The smoke irritates your airways, causing your nerves to trigger a cough reflex. It’s a normal reaction to inhaling any kind of smoke.

Research suggests that coughing related to cannabis smoking is usually due to short-term effects, rather than long-term damage. Let’s take a look at the research.


According to a 2013 review, smoking cannabis causes tiny injuries to the large airways, or bronchi. Your bronchi are the passages that connect your trachea (windpipe) to your lungs.

This increases your risk for chronic bronchitis, or inflamed bronchi, which causes frequent coughing. Chronic bronchitis typically goes away when you stop regularly smoking.

Defense against infection

Habitual smoking also decreases cilia in the airways. Cilia are small hairs that filter out particles and germs. And though habitual smoking reduces your lungs’ defense against infection, it isn’t associated with long-term damage, according to the 2013 review.

Long-term lung function

A 2012 study specifically examined the link between smoking cannabis and long-term lung function over a 20-year period. The researchers found that occasional smoking wasn’t linked to adverse lung function.

Though they speculated that heavy smoking can cause lasting damage, they weren’t able to make a solid conclusion. The study lacked enough participants who heavily smoked cannabis.

It’s worth noting that smoking cannabis is associated with lasting lung damage if you also smoke tobacco. In a 2016 study , people who smoked cannabis and tobacco were more likely to have impaired lung function than those who only smoked tobacco.

Despite these findings, scientists are still learning how smoking cannabis affects lung health over time. More long-term studies are necessary.

According to a 2020 study , cannabis smoke contains 110 compounds with potentially toxic properties. Sixty-nine of these compounds are also found in tobacco smoke. As a result, many people wonder if smoking cannabis can cause lung cancer.

The research is mixed. A 2015 meta-analysis found a weak link between long-term cannabis smoking and lung cancer risk. An older 2006 study also found no association between long-term smoking and lung cancer.

However, a 2013 study , which spanned over 40 years, found that frequently smoking cannabis doubles the risk of lung cancer. The association persisted after the researchers adjusted their data for tobacco use, alcohol consumption, and respiratory disease.

Similarly, an older 2008 study found a connection between cannabis smoking and lung cancer after adjusting for cigarette smoking.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) notes that it’s difficult to confirm a solid link. That’s because cannabis use often occurs alongside other behaviors that increase lung cancer risk, including cigarette smoking.

Therefore, more studies are needed involving people who smoke cannabis and not cigarettes.

It’s also possible for lung cancer to cause coughing. In this case, the coughing will be persistent or get worse over time. Other common symptoms of lung cancer include:

  • coughing blood
  • chest pain
  • hoarseness
  • poor appetite
  • unexplained weight loss
  • fatigue
  • new wheezing
  • shortness of breath

Keep in mind that coughing has many potential causes. If you’re concerned about your coughing, visit your doctor.

As mentioned earlier, regularly smoking cannabis can lead to chronic bronchitis. Bronchitis is considered chronic if you have coughing and mucus for at least 3 months for 2 consecutive years.

Since chronic bronchitis causes persistent coughing, you’ll likely cough even when you’re not smoking. The cough might come and go, and it might get worse on some days. You may also have wheezing.

If you have chronic bronchitis due to smoking cannabis, quitting will decrease your symptoms.

Smoke can produce a cough reflex, which is your body’s way of getting rid of irritants. Researchers are still studying the long-term effects of smoking cannabis. ]]>