weed laughter

Why weed makes you laugh, according to science

I reach for cannabis mainly to soothe my anxiety, especially in these fraught times. But some of its other, non-chill effects — such as the giggles — also enhance my experience. If you consume weed, you likely know the feeling: constantly teetering on the brink of laughter, even if nothing remotely funny is happening. When I do notice something the slightest bit funny, I burst into hysterics, especially if I’m smoking with a friend. As a science-minded human who loves nerding out over cannabis’s effects on the brain, I asked experts to help me break down why weed makes you laugh.

Let’s start with what laugher truly is. “Laughing is really a reflex,” like coughing or sneezing, says Timothy Fong, a professor of psychiatry who also helps oversee the UCLA Cannabis Research Initiative. “It’s something that can be triggered spontaneously, by things we see and feel.”

When you use cannabis, you enter an altered state in which you perceive time, color, and pretty much everything differently. “That altered state makes the reflex [to laugh] more likely to be triggered,” Fong tells me, not unlike how a cold makes your coughing reflex more sensitive. Cannabis does this partly by boosting levels of chemicals in your body that trigger your laugh reflex, especially dopamine, Fong says. As a result, “things that aren’t funny become funny.”

He notes that cannabis also lowers the inhibition of your laugh reflex — say, in situations that your sober mind would deem giggling inappropriate — by acting on the frontal lobe, responsible for inhibiting behavior. Plus, the binding of tetrahydrocannabinol, or THC, the compound in weed that makes you high, to the endocannabinoid receptors located throughout your body spurs the release of dopamine and serotonin, “the happy neurotransmitters,” which can also lower impulse control, says Lewis Nelson, chair of the department of emergency medicine and chief of the division of medical toxicology at Rutgers New Jersey Medical School.

Also, laughter really is contagious, Fong says, even when you’re sober, which probably explains why the giggles tend to hit me hardest when I use cannabis with a friend. Throw a substance that messes with your laugh reflex into the mix, and “everything becomes a lot funnier.”

In general, the more potent the product — that is, the more THC it contains — the more likely it’ll cause the giggles, Fong says. More THC results in more binding to your endocannabinoid receptors, more neurochemicals being expressed, and “just more noise, like turning your stereo up louder,” he explains. “You’re going to get more intense responses.”

You might’ve come across lists of “top giggly strains,” like Laughing Buddha or Mango Kush, on cannabis websites. But the lack of clear national regulations around strains means there isn’t a whole lot of consistency in the amount of THC, terpenes, and other compounds in plants of a given strain, Fong notes (which has raised questions about the scientific basis of strains as a means of categorizing weed, VICE reports). The levels of these compounds in Laughing Buddha bought in one state might differ from Laughing Buddha bought in another state

What’s more, everyone experiences cannabis differently, which can, in turn, depend on factors like how they consume it, or whether they’re doing so on a full or empty stomach. In other words, one person’s description of a strain may not hold true for everyone, and if you’re seeking out a strain with the express purpose of getting the giggles, it’ll be somewhat of a crapshoot.

The take-home message is that cannabis makes your laugh reflex easier to trigger, and as Fong emphasizes, it’s not a sign that you’re becoming psychotic. The next time I laugh my ass off while watching a nature documentary after taking an edible, I’ll know why.

This article was originally published on July 7, 2020

I reach for cannabis mainly to soothe my anxiety, especially in these fraught times. But some of its other, non-chill effects — such as the giggles — also enhance my experience. If you consume weed, you likely know the feeling: constantly teetering…

Why Does Weed Make You Laugh?

If you’ve ever spent time with people who enjoy visiting Las Vegas dispensaries, or any other state’s dispensaries for that matter; you’ve probably noticed that people who consume lots of weed tend to laugh more than the average human. That tends to make non-smokers feel like cannabis damages the brain in some way and turns smokers back into toddlers. However, that couldn’t be further from the truth. As research shows time and time again, it’s difficult to identify any adverse consequences of smoking the herb, and so there must be some other reason, right? Well, this post should help to set the record straight once and for all. Today, we’re going to take a look at why cannabis makes you laugh using logic and reason.

Why do people laugh?

Before we can work out why marijuana from Las Vegas dispensaries, and dispensaries all over the country make people laugh, it’s vital we consider the nature of humor and what it’s all about. So, why do non-potheads laugh? Well, even the best and most knowledgeable neuroscientists in the world still debate that question. Laughing uses lots of different areas of the brain that deal with motor function, memory, and auditory interpretation. It’s a reflex that your body produces when you encounter particular stimuli and the way laughing works relates extensively to personal experiences, cultural sensitivities, and social context.

Medical scans show activity in the frontal lobes and cerebral cortex of the brain, and they are the same areas in which we see spikes of life when people smoke cannabis. So, it stands to reason that there is a scientific connection between marijuana and getting the giggles.

Weed stimulates the same areas as laughter

MRI scans show that people who enjoy spending their free cash at dispensaries will often activate the same areas of their brain they use when laughing. It’s not any stretch of the imagination to see that causes users to find things slightly funnier than most straight people. Scientists believe that overactivity in those locations of the brain can lead to an increased sensitivity to anything the individual might associate with humor. In future studies, the experts hope to look into the association between increased blood flow in those parts of the brain and how that collates to laughter produced by the weed smoker. However, that is something for which we will have to wait.

Cannabis lifts the mood of users

Another reason marijuana makes people laugh uncontrollably relates to the substance’s mood-lifting effects. People who feel sad or depressed will always struggle to find something funny. So, they will laugh less than most of the other folks in the population. The opposite is true for those who smoke the plant all the time. Cannabis is known to lift your mood and provide some relief from mental health issues. So, it makes sense that people under the influence of THC won’t have to try as hard as most to find something hilarious. That is because their minds are not full of worry or anxiety.

Laughing is always contagious

Have you ever sat in a room full of people laughing your socks off for no reason? That tends to happen when you encounter other people who see or hear something funny and fall into fits of hysterics. Like it or not, laughing is contagious regardless of whether you choose to consume cannabis from a Las Vegas dispensary or not. With that in mind, and then you consider that most potheads have friends who also love to smoke, it becomes apparent that socially-contagious laughter might play a role in the situation. When one weed enthusiast sees or hears something funny, their pals will often laugh alongside them even if they don’t understand the cause of the humor. That is because listening to or watching someone laugh is often funnier than the joke itself.

Now you know some of the reasons cannabis makes you laugh, there is no need to stress about the prospect of you ending up in the same state as those actors in the 1950s propaganda film Reefer Madness. Times have changed, and our understanding of weed has progressed. Almost all medical experts now know that marijuana like that available from Las Vegas dispensaries is safe for all adults to consume. It is not going to affect your brain in any adverse ways, even if you sometimes act like a child and laugh at silly things. So, why not head down to your local dispensary now and kick back with a new strain? You probably need it after reading all the information in this post.

Why Does Weed Make You Laugh? If you’ve ever spent time with people who enjoy visiting Las Vegas dispensaries, or any other state’s dispensaries for that matter; you’ve probably noticed that