Boomer Esiason claims he and Mitt Millen were the fortunate "victims" of second-hand marijuana smoke during a Monday Night Football broadcast in 2000. But before we examine Boomer's claim, it's worth asking: are contact highs even possible?
All stoners have reluctantly gone there before—you've got a big test the next day, or a final paper to wrap up that evening—but you find yourself in a car with your friends and before you can say "Alaskan Thunderfuck" the car is magically hot boxed with heavy joint or blunt smoke. You breathe in some of the exhaled smoke, your eyes get watery and maybe a little red, and you feel maybe, maybe just a little light-headed.
But are you actually high? By scientific logic, no, you're probably "not stoned":
Since exhaled smoke is virtually devoid of psychoactive substances and is widely dispersed in the surrounding air, it is not possible for one to inhale even a small fraction of a working dose. Additionally, many, including noted pharmacologist and psychedelic researcher Alexander Shulgin, report similar experiences involving drugs that are not inhaled, indicating that these effects are due to different biological processes.
Still, there's plenty of personal testimonials on the interwebz and Chappelle Show-esque skits that dispels this notion and suggests contact highs really do exist. People claim to have failed drug tests just because they were at a party where weed was in the air. This makes the matter a confusing one, because while science says you can't really inhale enough exhaled THC to get stoned, plenty of people beg to differ.
Sure, you can attribute it to a "Placebo effect"—when you're around a bunch of people tripping on shrooms (and you're not), things naturally feel a little "different." It's no different—aside from intensity levels—with weed. When there's smoke in the air, you feel like you're feeling it, even if you're not.
But what if cannabis science is just wrong—or isn't advanced enough yet—and Boomer's claim isn't just smoke and mirrors? Especially as it pertains to non-habitual cannabis tokers.
I've been smoking weed on a daily basis for over 10 years, and I've been in these circumstance, generally with a high tolerance. While I wouldn't call myself "blazed" from second hand cannabis smoke, when there's been a setting with enough of smoke in the air, I've felt light headed, or a slight buzz. When I've blown smoke into my dog's ear (his "back" hurt) or even just a puff in his face, he (albeit far lighter than a full grown person) would go into a small sneezing fit, beg for his bacon strips, and act loopy for a few hours.
It seems logical that the smell, terpenes, cannabinoids and overall effect of marijuana smoke for someone unaccustomed to marijuana smoke could be an overwhelming, perhaps cerebral experience: one with some effect. Because stoners know this better than anyone: even though some things make no sense from a scientific perspective, with weed, anything is possible.
And Boomer's incredible anecdote furthers this truth and supports the myth of a contact high:
“Now here’s the deal. What you’re saying, for some listeners or some viewers now that are listening to us for the first time, what you’re saying is accurate. I did get high. I did. I didn’t realize I was getting high when I got high, but I got high — and I have to tell you that it was one of the best broadcasts I’ve ever had.
“… The radio booth is like a lean-to in the middle of the stands. And it’s a (December) game. It’s the Chiefs at the Patriots, both teams have major losing records, it’s raining outside, it’s cold, there might be about 40,000 people in the stadium, it is awful. And there’s this grim reaper outside of our booth, and he’s got a hoodie on and he’s got a big ol’ puffy jacket on, and he’s smoking weed. And he’s blowing it into the lean-to.
“I mean, we’re 3 minutes into the game and Matt Millen’s already looking for something to eat. And Howard David is trying to keep us focused on the game, and Matt Millen and I are talking about everything but the game.
“We have the second-hand smoke going on. Now, we obviously know what’s happening, but we don’t necessarily know that we’re reacting to what’s happening. … I was laughing my a– off for the entire first half!” [CBS New York]
Munchies, laughter, grim reaper of joints, the best time ever: it sure sounds like Boomer and Millen got high. And this wasn't from a hardcore hotbox in some intimate pregame broadcast van. This was a little smoke coming from a random Joe who New England's security system didn't even bat an eyelash for.
Of course, it could just be an embellishment. Or someone could've slipped some THC into their water bottles. Or maybe, just maybe, contact highs are, after all, a reality.
The Uneducated Conclusion: If enough smoke enters your system, even the exhaled kind, and you don't smoke regularly and are susceptible to weed, then yes, a contact high is possible, but it's more likely you're imagining it. Or you're just crazy or paranoid like everyone else claiming a contact high. But at least you're not alone.
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