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Does Coughing Make you Higher?

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Inhalation is a popular way to consume cannabis. However, this method often causes the classic weed smoker cough. Within the cannabis community, there have been many debates over whether coughing makes you higher. In this guide, we’ll discuss why weed makes you cough in the first place and if coughing actually gets you higher. 

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Why does weed make you cough?

Most cannabis consumers have experienced this when smoking or using bongs. But why exactly does this happen? Turns out, there are several reasons why you cough after taking a hit. 

Too much smoke 

The human throat and lungs have sensory nerves that detect irritating elements like smoke. Cannabis smoke contains irritants similar to the ones in tobacco. 

Thus, when you inhale these irritants, the lungs respond by producing mucus. This stimulates coughing which is the body’s way of clearing mucus and irritants. 


Excessive heat is another factor that can cause coughing. Inhaling something super hot into your lungs can lead to irritation. Irritating sensitive tissues in your throat and lungs can trigger coughing. 

Herb quality

The quality of your weed affects the overall experience. Poor-quality flower may contain residues such as dust, mildew and even residual pesticides. When you smoke  low-grade cannabis, the residues can trigger an allergic reaction, leading to coughing. 

Besides coughing, these residues may have adverse health effects in the long run. 

Hit size

We all have different lung capacities. Thus, you may cough if you have a smaller lung capacity and fill your lungs with more smoke than they can handle.

Fact or fiction: Does coughing make you higher? 

Now that you understand why weed can make you cough, let’s take a deeper look at the burning question at hand.

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Although no concrete evidence shows that coughing makes you higher, some cannabis enthusiasts claim it intensifies their trip. However, there are some theories that have been put forward to show why coughing makes you higher.

Oxygen deprivation 

Oxygen deprivation is one of the leading theories why coughing makes you higher. When coughing, your lungs compress and blood pressure drops, leading to a lack of oxygen.

This state of oxygen deprivation leads to lightheadedness, dizziness, and a sensation. What’s more, this physiological reaction combined with THC may make you experience a heightened trip. 

In this theory, however, the actual cough doesn’t intensify the high feeling. Instead, the side effects from coughing alongside a psychoactive compound (THC) may make you feel a more intense high. 

The bigger the hit, the higher the high

When you inhale cannabis smoke or vapor, your lung absorbs 10 to 35% of the THC within the first moments of taking a hit. This means more THC will be absorbed into the bloodstream when you take bigger hits than usual. 

As mentioned above, however, human lungs have different capacities. Thus, when you inhale bigger hits, it may fill your lungs, leading to irritation. This will lead to coughing as the lung tries to expel excess air. 

If you don’t pay attention to the exact amount of cannabis you’re consuming, you may attribute that extra high to coughing. 

Psychological factors

Substance use expectancies can influence the anticipated effects of consuming cannabis. Consumers have associated coughing with more intense highs for many years.

Thus, when you cough after inhaling cannabis, your mind may amplify the high feeling. Thus, you may associate the heightened trip with coughing. 

Despite the theories, there is a lot of debate surrounding the question: why does coughing make you higher? Although there might be a bit of truth to the idea, more research is needed to ascertain this. 

How to not cough when smoking weed

It’s not certain exactly how coughing makes you higher. Regardless, these intense coughs can affect the overall experience. For this reason, it’s crucial to understand how to smoke weed without coughing. Here are ways you can use avoid it:

Quality cannabis

When you inhale contaminated cannabis, there is a higher chance you’ll have a coughing fit. You can avoid this by purchasing your products from reputable dispensaries. 

Please take your time to go through the provided reviews to gauge their credibility. Also, ask for their quality assurance certificate, guaranteeing healthy and high-grade cannabis. 

Drink fluids

Drinking a glass of water before, during and after the hit can go a long way in preventing coughing. The fluid will ease irritation in your throat. 

Taking smaller hits 

Inhaling smaller hits reduces the amount of smoke that gets into your lungs, preventing irritation. Also, take deep and gentle inhales to ensure that no smoke is left on your throat. Any leftover smoke can cause burning or discomfort leading to coughing. 

If you already have a sore throat from coughing, there are several ways you can use it to soothe it, including honey. Simply mix two tablespoons of honey with a cup of warm water and drink as needed. 

You can also gurgle salt water to ease your sore throat. Another way to calm your sore throat is using lemon water to break up mucus. 

What else can make you cough?

Besides cannabis, other factors can make you cough while smoking, including high blood pressure. So does high blood make you cough? No. However, the medications used to manage hypertension may give you a dry hacking cough. 

If you have a persistent cough, please consider visiting your physician, who’ll determine the actual culprit behind the cough. 

Does coughing get you higher?

Coughing is usually associated with a heightened high feeling. Some theories supporting this include lightheadedness from oxygen deprivation, bigger hits and expectations. However, if constant fits are affecting the whole experience, consider taking lots of fluids, smaller hits and smoking quality cannabis products. 


About Jeremy

Jeremy graduated with a Bachelor's degree in Information Technology from the Technical University of Kenya. Over the past four years, he's been passionate about writing on a wide range of cannabis-related topics. In addition to guides, he's explored various aspects of cannabis, including its medical benefits, legalization efforts, cultivation techniques, and its impact on society. You can reach him at [email protected].