Exercise releases dormant THC in the bloodstream, increasing overall THC percentage
So you like to get high – then hike, surf, bike or swim? Well hopefully you’re not driving as well, because according to new research published April 9 2013, by the ‘Drug and Alcohol Dependence’ Journal – doing so may increase the THC concentration levels in the blood stream of marijuana smokers. While that may not seem like a problem initially. Any interaction with the local police or Highway Patrol on your journey to or from the hiking trail, the beach or the gym…that for one reason or another ended in a field sobriety test, could show elevated levels of THC. For no other reason, than exercising.
Apparently, Δ9-tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) – the primary psychoactive cannabinoid found in marijuana, is stored in the body’s fat tissue. It’s from there that the THC cannabinoid slowly leaches back into the blood stream. The THC / activity study indicated pre-treated lab rats have a tendency to show higher than normal plasma cannabinoid levels when exposed to conditions that promote fat utilization, such as fasting or exercise. In the drug and alcohol dependence study they examined whether fasting and exercise increase plasma THC concentrations in regular pot smokers.
Spoiler alert… it does.
14 regular marijuana smokers completed 35min of exercise on a stationary bicycle in either a fed or overnight fasted state. Plasma cannabinoid levels were assessed prior to exercise, immediately post-exercise and 2h post-exercise. Plasma samples were also analyzed for indices of lipolysis (free fatty acids (FFA) and glycerol).
Exercise induced a small, statistically significant increase in plasma THC levels accompanied by increased plasma FFA and glycerol levels. Exercise-induced increases in plasma THC concentrations were positively correlated with body mass index. Fasting induced a significant increase in plasma FFA levels, and a lowering of blood glucose, but did not significantly alter plasma cannabinoid levels.
Here we demonstrate that exercise enhances plasma THC levels in regular cannabis users. The lack of a fasting effect may reflect the modest duration of fasting used which was associated with only a modest increase in fat utilization relative to exercise. Overall, these results suggest that exercise may elevate blood THC levels by releasing dormant THC from fat stores. These data suggest the interpretation of blood THC levels in roadside and workplace tests might be complicated by recent exercise.