Why Do You Cough After Smoking Cannabis?

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Added 14 September 2022

Almost all smokers experience coughing while smoking cannabis. 

And, why not? Coughing is your body’s natural response that you may experience not only when you are smoking cannabis but also while smoking tobacco. 

In fact, some regular smokers also cough even when they are not smoking cannabis. But why does your body cough? Learn all about why cannabis makes you cough (and some ways to prevent it).

Three Reasons Why You Cough After Smoking Cannabis

Reasons Why You Cough After Smoking Cannabis

There are several reasons why you cough after smoking cannabis, such as the following:

1. Coughing as a Reflex

Your throat and lungs are super complex organs lined with sensitive sensory nerves. The nerves’ responsibility is to detect any incoming irritating substance in the airway (like smoke) and alert the body to expel it. 

So, when you take a hit from the cannabis joint, the cannabis smoke acts as an irritant, stimulating these nerves. As a response to this, the nerves start sending signals throughout your respiratory system to produce a cough reflex to get rid of the smoke and protect your lungs and respiratory tract. 

This kind of cough reflex is normal if you inhale any kind of smoke, whether it is from a joint or a cigar or from an old truck expelling black diesel smoke. 

2. Smoke Burns the Throat 

While smoke won’t give you high-degree burns, it can still be quite hot for your throat and respiratory system, which can trigger coughing for you. This works similarly to the previous point, where if you inhale hot smoke from cannabis, your respiratory tract starts triggering a cough to expel the smoke to protect itself.

This is the reason why you see a lot of bong smokers using ice in their bongs to cool down the water. However, it isn’t as effective as you think. More on this later.

3. Low-Quality Cannabis

Cannabis does not always cause coughing — its smoke is relatively softer and safer than other kinds of smoke you may inhale. But there is one instance where its smoke can be a lot harsher on your throat — your cannabis is of low quality.

If the cannabis buds are bricked up, laced with other substancesnot dried and stored well, or unclean, it can trigger your body to cough a lot. Here, the body is not trying to expel the cannabis smoke, but the impurities that may be making their way into your lungs.

Other Theories on Why Cannabis Causes Cough

The above-mentioned reasons are widely accepted by experts and cannabis smokers alike. However, there are many other claims on what may be causing you to cough a lot after smoking cannabis, such as the following:

  • Cannabis is too old or dry
  • You smoked too fast 
  • You laughed while taking the hit 
  • You swallowed a bit of saliva while taking the hit
  • You inhaled more smoke than you could handle 
  • Certain strains make you cough more because they contain some terpenes that may tickle the throat 

These are plausible theories, but not enough scientific data is available to back these claims. So, take these claims with a pinch of salt. 

Preventing Coughing from Smoking Cannabis

Preventing Coughing from Smoking Cannabis

Coughing can be annoying and uncomfortable, but thankfully, there are many easy ways to avoid it. Here are the most effective ways to prevent coughing while smoking cannabis.

1. Take Smaller Hits

Many users think that the more smoke they inhale, the higher they will get. This is a myth because the THC in the smoke gets absorbed by the lungs almost instantly. Beyond that point, the users are simply depriving their lungs of oxygen.

Plus, doing so may irritate the throat and lungs more, leading to a domino effect that leads to coughing and more coughing. 

Instead, take smaller hits and inhale/exhale them quickly. This will not affect your high in any way but reduce the chances of the cough reflex. 

2. Experiment with Other Inhaling Techniques 

Next, you can also experiment with other smoking techniques, which will not irritate your throat as much when smoking cannabis. Some of the inhaling techniques you can try out to prevent coughing from cannabis smoking are: inhale deeply and directly, inhale and exhale gently, and avoid talking while taking a hit.

3. Drink Water

The number of things a glass of water can solve is incredible, and coughing from smoking cannabis is one of them. So, whenever you are smoking up, keep some water handy and drink it before, during, and after taking a hit.

Water cools down the throat and eases any irritation caused by the smoke, which can drastically prevent coughing after smoking cannabis.

4. Consume High-Quality Cannabis Products

As mentioned earlier, cannabis that is of low quality is a lot harsher on your throat and lungs. So, always smoke high-quality cannabis. This way, you can not only prevent coughing caused by smoking cannabis but also prevent other problems like a bad trip, negative health effects, and compromised experience. 

Always buy cannabis products from reputable smoke shops and inspect them thoroughly. And if you notice anything off about the buds — harsh scent, unexpected chemical flavor, sweet flavor (mold), or weird appearance — don’t smoke the buds. 

5. Grind the Buds

You can also try grinding down the buds with a cannabis grinder (not your fingers). A 3 to 4-chamber grinder should do the trick. Essentially, grinders turn the uneven pieces of the buds into a fine powdery weed that burns smoothly with minimal inconsistencies and hotspots that may induce coughing in you. 

6. Try Other Smoking Methods

Maybe your throat is more sensitive, so even a regular blunt would make you cough — and that’s completely normal. But what you can now do is try different methods of smoking cannabis, such as the following:

  • Mix cannabis with tobacco to smoothen out the hit 
  • Use tobacco filters instead of a roach since they are denser and limit the amount of smoke going into your lungs
  • Many bong users use ice in their bongs to cool down the smoke, but this can also backfire and cause coughing. Instead, use warm water in your bongs for a smoother hit instead of ice, since it produces a moist, soft smoke that is easier on your throat and lungs
  • Avoid packing your joints too tight or too light — the joint should be tight enough without having you suck too hard on it 

7. Switch to Edibles

Everybody is different, and some people have a naturally sensitive throat or respiratory system, leading to coughing whenever they try to smoke cannabis. If you are one of them, you don’t need to worry — this is normal.

Instead, you can switch to edibles! Yes, making edibles takes longer than rolling joints but edibles give you a slow onset but super intense high, which most joints can’t compete with unless they are rolled by Snoop Dogg himself. 

Soothe Coughing Quickly

soothe coughing quickly

If you are already coughing or have a sore throat due to coughing, don’t worry because it’s not as bad as it looks. You can soothe your throat quickly in a few easy ways, such as the following.

1. Salt Water Gargle

A grandma’s remedy is gargling with salt water, which works to soothe your throat not just from coughing but also from other throat-related ailments like pain or discomfort. Simply mix ½ teaspoon of salt in a glass of warm water and gargle for a couple of minutes. 

Salt water helps ease the pain, soothe the throat, and loosen mucus in your throat. 

2. Drink Cold Water

Similarly, you can also drink cold water. This will decrease the dryness in your mouth, cool down your throat, and soothe the irritation quickly.

3. Eat Candy

Sucking on candy increases the saliva production in your mouth, which slowly moves down the throat, easing the soreness. But this may not work with every candy — some candies are harsh and can make the irritation worse. Therefore, go for lozenges meant to soothe the throat. 

4. Take a Break

The best thing you can do is just take a break from smoking. A sore throat after smoking cannabis is a temporary problem, which will disappear quickly. But if you smoke when your throat is still sore, it can worsen the coughing. So, wait it out.

Summary: Why Do You Cough After Smoking Cannabis?

Coughing while smoking cannabis is fairly common — so much that it is a running gag in movies where a stoner is always shown coughing while smoking a joint with psychedelic music and effects. 

In most cases, coughing after smoking cannabis is nothing to worry about. It is just your respiratory system reacting to the smoke that can sometimes be harsh on the throat. It simply wants to protect you from harm and is doing its job. 

If you're using cannabis for medicinal purposes, remember that the smoke can be bad, especially if you are smoking old or low-quality cannabis. 

Use the tips and tricks mentioned above to prevent and soothe coughing after smoking cannabis. But if you develop a persistent cough that won’t go away even after a while, consider a visit to your doctor. 




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Perso j ai remarqué avec mon herbe qui est en général toujours sécher doucement (2semaine) jusqu'à à peut près 50. 60% d humidité et après sa le curring commence dans l ideale je le fais pendant 2 mois au minimum (quand j ai assez de stock;) et quand tu part sur une weed sécher comme cela et qui a grandi avec nutriment bio (Terra aquattica) ta fumé ne devrais déjà presque plys faire tousser mais celons certaines strain sa peut arrivé quand même j av une bruce banner comme sa les terp été presque pétillant en bouche .j ai donc pris des filtre en verre (8mm de gentleman smocker et j utilise les feuille extra slim de la même marque avec la rouleuse 2way de raw ) et la grosse grosse surprise le goût 2x plus fort mais sans te faire tousser (le filtre en verre refroidi beaucoup mieux la fumé ) depuis je fume uniquement encore avec les filtre en verre (qui en plus sont réutilisable encore et encore et encore toujours mieux que de couper des arbres pour faire des cartons non? J ai utiliser aussi des filtre au charbon actif style = gorrila tube ..actif tube etc J aime les utiliser quand je test une weed pas encore bien sèche (so tu goûté pas tu sais pas si elle est prête ou pas ;) Et sa aussi sa marche super bien avec la rouleuse et les feuille extra slim = il n y a que 1 tour de papier avec ces feuille quand on roule avec une rouleuse !!!ATTENTION LES EXTRA SLIM NE VONT PAS BIEN POUR ROULER A LA MAIN . voilà voilà désolé du livre mais si tu nourit ta weed en mode bio et avec un bon flusch avant recolte et que tu sèche ta weed correctement et curring correcte si avec tous cela tu tousse encore alors test ma technique des filtre en verre et rouleuse raw + feuille extra slim et la normalement sa devrais le faire...
@Kmikaz420, lots of great tips there, thanks!
Been a smoker for over 11 years and i dont think there is an official answer to this, I usally cough when there is to many chemicals still left around without a propper flush.