Can sharing a joint really get you sick?

Can sharing a joint really get you sick?

Just like great food, good weed is best enjoyed with good company. Unfortunately, as fun as the good ol’ smoke circle might be, anyone even slightly concerned about germs might consider it kind of a nightmare. After all, doesn’t sharing a single joint with numerous people expose you to a whole variety of germs and bacteria?


The short answer is yes. Any disease you can catch from kissing someone (which can include everything from a sore throat right through to herpes or even a stomach flu), you can also catch from sharing a joint.

By sharing a joint, you’re essentially making mouth-to-mouth contact with everyone in your circle. And that puts you at risk of contracting any infectious disease which can be spread via direct contact (which is about 80% of all infectious diseases).

Research shows that the human mouth is home to about 700 different species of bacteria, fungi, protists, and viruses.[1] Now, our saliva is designed to contain healthy antibodies to protect us from any biological threats that could make us sick. However, those antibodies can fail.

By making direct mouth-to-mouth contact with the people you’re smoking with, you potentially put yourself at risk of catching a whole variety of diseases, including:

  • Pharyngitis
  • Influenza
  • Meningitis
  • Mononucleosis
  • Norovirus
  • Oral herpes


There’s an old smoker’s myth that says holding the end of your joint above an open flame for a few seconds can help burn off some of the germs going around the circle. Unfortunately, there’s no evidence to show that the heat from a lighter is enough to kill off bacteria.

In order to completely kill off the germs, you’d need to burn them off with the lighter and then let the joint rest until it’s completely dry (which could take months). This is because the humidity and temperature of most normal environments are enough to keep these bacteria alive. The only other thing that can help kill off the bacteria on a joint is direct UV light.


What else can you do for a more hygienic smoking session?

Unfortunately, there’s not a lot you can do to minimize the potential of catching or spreading diseases with others, except not share your joints, blunts, or other smoking materials (like bongs or pipes).

The only advice we can give you is this: choose wisely when and with whom you share your smoke. If you notice that one of your friends is a bit sniffly or has a cold sore, remember that those bacteria are inevitably going to make it onto the joint.

The same goes for you. If you notice you're coming down with something, make sure to let your friends know and sit out on the next session. Instead, roll yourself a joint or smoke from a bong or pipe. Just make sure to wipe it down with an antibacterial wipe afterward.

We often underestimate just how tough germs and bacteria can be. While our bodies are meant to naturally fight off pathogens that pose a threat, even the toughest of immune systems can be beaten after sharing a joint with more than 1 or 2 people.

Remember, this doesn’t mean you need to be paranoid. Unless the people you’re smoking with are actually sick with a virus or bug, chances are, they won’t get you sick. Just keep in mind that the larger the session, the greater the chances you might be smoking with someone who is sick.


  1. ^ Microbiome, Shaping the oral microbiota through intimate kissing, retrieved January-09-2019