Why Do We Get Cannabis Hangovers?

Hangovers are easily the worst part of enjoying a night of drinks. The headache, fatigue, stomach problems, and irritability that come with a hangover are terrible, but not unexpected. Cannabis doesn’t have the exact same effects as alcohol, so why do people report having cannabis hangovers?

The first thing to consider is that cannabis hangovers tend to be somewhat different than alcohol hangovers, though they can still ruin the next day. There are a lot of factors that go into how cannabis affects us, and one such factor is how we ingest it. Taking cannabis products in an edible form will make you feel differently than smoking, vaping, or applying it topically.

So which way is best to avoid a cannabis hangover, and just what is a cannabis hangover? While the scientific community hasn’t made this a priority, let’s take a look at what they say.

cannabis study

What is a cannabis hangover?

If you’ve never experienced one, a cannabis hangover can present very similarly to an alcohol-based hangover:

  • Headache
  • Irritability
  • Difficulty remembering or concentrating
  • Fatigue but also insomnia
  • Elevated heart rate
  • Anxiety

While some combination of these effects is reported anecdotally with both substances, both of them work in dramatically different ways. For both substances, it does appear to vary on the dose – based solely on anecdotal evidence, cannabis hangovers appear to occur more often in people who overindulge. This can be especially easy for people who have never used, or who are trying cannabis in a different form, like eating edibles when you typically vape.

Part of the hangover component of alcohol is the fact that it actually dehydrates you. While cannabis causes dry mouth, this is not dehydration. You might think it feels like you could drink a gallon of water, it doesn’t mean your body is physically dehydrated. 

What does the science say?

There have only been a couple of cannabis studies done on hangovers, and they weren’t even intentionally constructed to observe these effects, and are pretty old. One done in the 1980s was intended to observe cannabis’ effects on cognitive tasks found that each of the participants who were given cannabis instead of placebo reported negative effects the next day. Another study from 1998 concluded that hangover effects from cannabis consumption are minimal, but the sample size was small – only 10 people – and they were all men. This is not robust enough of a study to make any concrete conclusions. 

There are many anecdotal accounts of cannabis hangovers, however, and this is enough to at least consider that they are in fact real. Even if it’s entirely a placebo or suggestion effect, if you wake up the day after partaking in cannabis and you feel like garbage, it’s definitely real to you. Let’s look at how to fix a cannabis hangover.

cannabis effects

How to treat a cannabis hangover

There are multiple components of a cannabis hangover, and they will also vary depending on how you used it. Vaping and smoking can cause additional problems the day after heavy use, including a feeling of tightness in the chest or cough. These can be remedied with a hot shower and simply taking it easy for the day.

If you’re experiencing confusion, brain fog, or fatigue, a cold shower or a brisk jog can bring you back to focus. Coffee is also another great place to jolt your brain and get you back on track.

For headaches and nausea, the normal treatment for these conditions should work just fine. This includes headache medicine, sitting quietly in a dark room, and cold compresses. 


The caution is in the dose

For most people, partaking in cannabis sometimes and with moderation will not produce any negative effects. Others might experience some sluggishness or brain fog the next day, but those who experience a severe hangover will have used a lot of cannabis the day before. Take it slow and easy, enjoy yourself in moderation, and you should be able to avoid these negative effects.