One of the strangest urban legends I encountered as a teen semi-stoner in my hippie town was that in winter, when the air is frigid, the scent of cannabis travels less. Another that a friend and I, the amateur scientists we were, was to create a “Hawaiian hot box” by running steaming hot water in his shower irresponsibly, and then taking bong rips and letting the smoke mingle with the steam. Are any of these true? Were we just dumb, crazy kids trying to take that high to the next level, or just not get caught?
Scientifically speaking, odor molecules apparently move slower the colder the air is. There might be something to be said for smoking weed in cold weather on the down low, granted no one walks through your lingering cloud. In the adverse, odor molecules move more fluidly and faster in hot weather. Think about trash day in the midst of summer- you can’t walk down the block with cans out without wafting through the garbage smells. So, weirdly, neither urban legend is half right, half wrong. Cannabis can, in fact, lower your body temperature in a strange phenomenon of temporary hypothermia. The connection between lower body temperature and the effect of a cell receptor regulating temperature was only tested on rodents, however, reinforcing the need for better scientific studies. Some studies show that in low doses, temperature may increase, but in large amounts, cool the body.
There’s a good argument that getting high in hot weather may benefit you by lowering your temperature. A summertime blunt may help out if you’re sweating bullets, as I sometimes do in those LA heatwaves. And maybe those wintery smoke sessions should be supplanted by an extra blanket, or by the fireside.
This makes me think back to when my high school best friend and I hilariously tried to recreate a sauna and get higher from it. While we naively believed the temperature of the air was getting us higher, it was more likely just the placebo effect on top of a hot boxed, small, enclosed space with water vapor and cannabis smoke instead of oxygen. We also discussed the idea of having your pores become more open and possibly absorbing the cannabis molecules. While I still find this idea a little silly at skin being able to absorb smoke and water vapor, I think it still holds up as a decent highdea worth pondering. For the record, I haven’t found any evidence to support that, so maybe just stick to topicals. All those holiday season joints at my parents’ in the northern mountains of California could have been making me even chillier. The true stoner knows, however, sometimes the high is worth it, and the cool air can be invigorating. Some say the cold sobers them up, which might be a nice balance if you get a little too high.
Either way, back in high school, we were heating ourselves up while getting as high as we could, and possibly lowering our body temperatures… but we would have been willing human test subjects for any such questions at the time.