Colorado is famous for both its potent pot and its high elevation. But does smoking weed at altitude actually get you higher? It’s a question on the lips of every traveling stoner preparing to make a pilgrimage to this high-elevation land of milk and honey, and it’s a question that we’re going to answer today.
Alcohol and Altitude: Fact or Fiction?
First off, let’s start with using alcohol as an example, as living in Colorado it’s incredibly common to hear people say, “Don’t drink as much as you would at sea level—a beer in Denver is like two beers in San Francisco.” The sentiment is valid, but the science is suspect.
Most people think that alcohol gets you drunker at altitude—but that’s actually a myth. Instead, extremely intoxicated visitors are experiencing a combination of drunkenness and altitude sickness. Your blood alcohol content (BAC) isn’t actually increasing simply because you’re having a few beers at altitude—instead, the effects of altitude (dizziness, nausea, lightheadedness, etc.) are combining with the effects of the booze to make you feel drunker than you actually are—and not necessarily in a good way.
It’s not the pot…
In a similar fashion, smoking weed at altitude doesn’t actually get you higher—but the effects of altitude can combine with the effects of cannabis to make you feel higher (also, not necessarily in a good way). It’s not just Colorado’s high-grade that has you lightheaded, it’s the fact that you’re not acclimatized to life a mile high. To make the most of your Colorado weedcation, we recommend a simple, proactive regimen to combat altitude sickness before you arrive, and then a few simple tips to make smoking in Denver or any altitude a sweet experience.
5 Steps for Smoking Weed at Altitude:
This simple step is the single most important one. Chugging water is always a good idea, and making sure you’re overly hydrated before you touch down in Colorado is an excellent move. Hydrated travelers will have an easier time acclimating, and they’ll have less issues with headaches, lightheadedness, and other symptoms of altitude sickness. Better to have to take a piss frequently than having to tap out because you can’t hang anymore, right? You can also try drinks like Acli-Mate to make the transition easier.
Get Some Rest
Exhaustion can be a catalyst for altitude sickness—it’s best to get a good night’s sleep and have a relaxing day before you head to Colorado. Also, be cognizant of the fact that a late night out on the town might not be the best move the moment you land.
You want to be active (but not too active) upon your arrival. At altitude, the air is thinner, and your body is working overtime to get the oxygen it needs. Moderately increasing your heart rate will help your body speed up the acclimatization process faster than simply resting. That said, if you’re going for a hike or heading to the ski hill, you shouldn’t go all out straight off the plane.
Don’t get high, get well
The combination of incredibly potent marijuana and high altitudes can definitely take a toll—especially on an occasional smoker from sea level. One way to enjoy a casually enjoy cannabis legality in a place like Colorado is to take advantage of weed’s medicinal benefits instead of simply smoking until you can’t stand up. We recommend smoking a CBD-heavy strain or vaping a CBD concentrate after a day of hiking or skiing; your mind won’t be overwhelmed by the mellow psychoactive properties of CBD, but your ultra-relaxed muscles will thank you.
Try Strains that Aid Sleep
Another tip for those smoking at altitude? That would be to purchase a mellow indica for use as a natural sleep aid. While sativa will keep your mind-racing and may make it difficult to fall asleep, we prefer the sleepy body high of an indica to an Ambien any night of the week.
The bottom line?
You’re not actually getting higher than you would smoking the same weed at sea level. Instead, your body simply isn’t accustomed to the altitude, and as it’s adapting, you’re noticing symptoms of altitude sickness.
The best way to smoke weed at altitude? Drink water, sleep well, be active, and smoke smart. Looking for a simple, convenient smoking kit for your trip? It’s made the whole process of smoking on the go so much easier.