Sore Throat From Smoking Weed: What’s the Solution?

Sophia Delphi July 15, 2022 - 7 min read
Fact Checked

Unless you’re someone who’s just researching the pros and cons of cannabis use, you probably know the answer to this question.

Of course, you can get a sore throat from smoking weed. You can cough a lot while smoking, too.

That doesn’t negate all of the health benefits that marijuana can provide; chronic pain and anxiety relief, nausea prevention, and glaucoma treatment are just a few.

It does raise several questions, though.

If modern research shows that pot isn’t bad for you, why does it still produce negative effects in some people who smoke it?

And perhaps more importantly: what can you do to reduce the possibility that you’ll get a sore throat?

Why Can You Get A Sore Throat From Smoking Weed?

Image of a Woman Holding Her Neck

It’s easy to identify a long-time cigarette smoker. Most have a chronic smoker’s cough. Regular pot smokers usually don’t develop the same type of cough – but they’re still certainly prone to a coughing fit after a deep toke.

The reason for the coughing is basically the same, whether we’re talking about tobacco or cannabis: smoke can irritate tender tissues in the mouth, throat, and respiratory tract. Smoke also damages the small hairs (called cilia) that line the airway, impairing their ability to clear toxins out of the lungs.

Weed smokers usually don’t suffer the same lasting effects as those who smoke cigarettes, because most who smoke marijuana don’t inhale nearly as much smoke on a daily basis as regular tobacco smokers do.

Research has shown, though, that there are toxins in cannabis smoke, and they can cause irritation that leads to coughing. There are two more factors as well; smoke (of any type) dries out the throat and nasal passages, and cannabinoids reduce the body’s production of saliva.

That’s why cottonmouth is common when you’re smoking up. It’s also why you’ll often start coughing after a few tokes, even though the first couple went down smooth and relaxing. The drier your throat gets, the more easily it becomes irritated.

And a dry throat often turns into a sore throat, particularly if the exposure to irritating substances continues.

So, if you didn’t already know from first-hand experience, yes. You can get a sore throat from smoking weed.

However, there are ways to treat it or prevent it.

How To Treat A Sore Throat From Smoking Weed

Sure, cough drops are always a go-to remedy for sore throats, but they can also camouflage the taste of your smoke. If you’re not ready to put down the pipe or joint just yet, you may be looking for an alternative.

The best weapon against a sore throat during a smoke sesh? Water. The more you hydrate while you’re taking up, the less likely you’ll be to develop cottonmouth and start coughing as a result. Less coughing means less chance of a sore throat. It’s even better to begin hydrating before you light up, and continue to drink plenty of water during and afterward.

Other soothing remedies you can try, some of which you’ve probably heard about since you were a kid:

  • Gargle with saltwater. Use warm water mixed with 3-4 tablespoons of salt, and gargle a few times for 30 seconds each time. It should work in less than an hour, maybe sooner.
  • Drink tea with honey, or just mix the honey with warm water.
  • Have some soup (chicken soup works wonders, just ask your mother) – or if you also have the munchies, some ice cream. Avoid spicy foods, too, since they’ll make things worse.
  • Turn on a humidifier. Moisture will ease the irritation in your throat.

We probably don’t have to mention that one of the best ways to treat a sore throat caused by smoking weed is to stop smoking for a while. Either you already realize that and have stopped – or you really don’t want to think about a step that’s so drastic.

How To Prevent A Sore Throat From Smoking Weed

One way to minimize the impact that weed smoke has on your throat is to try and prevent coughing. Chronic or repeated coughing can inflame tissues in the throat.

Here are steps you can take to minimize coughing from weed:

  • Make sure your weed is fresh. The older buds get, the drier they get – and that means their smoke will be harsher. Also, when grinding your weed use a high-quality grinder with at least three chambers. Finely ground pot burns smoothly, but unevenly ground nugs often have hot spots that can trigger coughing.
  • Try taking smaller hits, or inhaling very smoothly and deeply. If your lungs can’t handle the amount of smoke you’re taking in you’ll probably start coughing, so inhaling less smoke is an easy solution. And coughing can be triggered by allowing smoke to sit in your throat; making sure you inhale all the way into your lungs prevents the smoke from staying in your throat and irritating its tissues.
  • If you smoke joints, they should be rolled properly. Loosely-rolled joints contain air pockets that can cause coughing, and ones that are rolled too tight will force you to drag so hard that you’re more likely to start coughing.
  • Bong hits often produce coughs because the smoker inhales a lot more smoke than they do from a joint. Adding perc (percolator) to a bong creates a smoother hit and less coughing because the smoke passes through the extra water chamber. If that’s not an option, adding lemon juice to the bong water will help soothe the throat.

Perhaps the best way to minimize sore throats is to put the joints and bongs (and pipes) aside and try using a vaporizer. The vapor it produces isn’t as hot, dry, or harsh as traditional marijuana smoke, and it’s much less irritating to the mouth and throat.

Or, even better, try edibles instead of inhaling smoke or vapor. Edibles can get you just as high, they’ll be just as good (or better) for relieving most types of pain – and you won’t be annoyed that you smoked so much that your throat is killing you.

Can You Get A Sore Throat From Smoking Weed FAQ

Q: My friend recommended chewing gum to prevent cottonmouth. Good idea or bad?
A: Good idea. Gum helps stimulate the production of saliva, which helps to keep the mouth and throat from drying out.

Q: Do you get sore throats more from smoking certain strains?
A: Many people say they’re more likely to cough and get sore throats when smoking high-THC strains, but it’s really dependent on your body’s makeup and tolerance. Many times the issue isn’t the strain at all. It’s the fact that the grower has taken shortcuts and hasn’t cured their crop properly.

Q: Does coughing or getting a sore throat means that weed is bad for you?
A: Well, the act of smoking anything isn’t great for you; studies have shown that there are toxins in cannabis smoke, just nowhere near as many as in tobacco smoke. But the health and wellness benefits of weed are also well-established, so no, it’s not bad for you; it’s just healthier to vape or consume edibles.