Laughter is contagious and infectious, perhaps even more so while consuming cannabis. So why does cannabis induce the giggles? There’s no better day to find out than on March 19th, National Let’s Laugh Day.
There is a reason why you’ve often noticed the sweet, skunky smell of cannabis when waiting in line to see the latest Will Ferrell movie or when waiting for your favourite comic to come on stage. People have been consuming cannabis and maximizing big belly laughs for years, just ask Jeff Spicoli. But have you ever wondered why cannabis brings on the chuckles, chortles and guffaws? Read on.
The neurological underpinnings of laughter are rooted in complex ideas such as culture, language and social contexts, made even more complex when individual interpretations of humour are thrown into the mix. If we take a joke by comedian Steven Wright—”I bought some batteries, but they weren’t included. So I had to buy them again”—you can see that Wright takes a mundane life situation and adds a twist that invites laughter. Scientists have observed that when something is funny, increased blood flows to the right frontal and left temporal lobes, which are areas of the brain known to be associated with laughter.
THC, the compound in cannabis responsible for feeling high or stoned, also produces similar increases in blood flow to the parts of the brain that light up during laughter. THC binds to receptors in the brain that moderate neural signalling when increased blood flow occurs. More neural signals mean more opportunities to find something silly or funny.
Although clinical trials that focus on cannabis and laughter are limited, scientist have identified several neurological and physiological conditions that, when combined with cannabis consumption, can lead to laughter.
After consuming cannabis, have you ever noticed the internal monologue become hyper focused on seemingly random or unimportant aspects of life? You might find yourself profoundly bemused by the word “spatula,” or wondering why cheese becomes stringy when heated. This phenomenon is called “detached perspective” and creates loads of opportunity for humorous situations to emerge.
Laughter also reduces levels of stress hormones such as cortisol, and is thought to enhance our immune, endocrine and cardiovascular systems. You likely know from experience that a night of laughs can be felt in the diaphragm, face and stomach muscles for days to follow. Continuous laughter can be a serious workout.
We know from studies that cannabis may be responsible for improving mood in a similar way to exercise, increasing blood flow, lowering stress and inflammation. It stands to reason that a good mood might lead to feelings of joy and connectedness that can cultivate giggles and grins.
For years, folks in India and Sweden have shared positive physical, emotional and mental benefits when regularly attending laughing clubs. At these clubs, one person simply starts laughing, artificially at first, and soon an entire room of people are laughing as if something truly funny has happened. Now these clubs are popping up all over the globe as a way to treat depression, seasonal affective disorder and some mild cardiovascular ailments.
Similar to many of the benefits people may experience from responsible cannabis consumption, laughter may promote anti-inflammation, lower anxiety and provide space for the body to heal through adopting a positive outlook. To quote the famous American salesman and motivational speaker, Zig Zigler, “one small positive thought can change your whole day.”
When selecting a strain in the hopes of locking down some laugh time, look for high-quality cultivars such as BC Organic Apple Toffee and BC Organic SFV OG Kush. Consider journaling your mood and experience after consuming sativas, indicas and hybrid strains in a variety of settings, such as outdoors, at the movies or at your favourite comedy club.
Considering that each person has unique cannabinoid receptors and different life contexts, it’s probably best to start out your puff-puff-laugh journey with people you get along with and that make you laugh sans cannabis. Enjoy the giggle.
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