When you think of the average run-of-the-mill stoner, you probably think of a skinny dude in a tie dye t-shirt riding around town on his skateboard or bike all day with a big smile on his face. While the tie dye imagery is definitely outdated, the active lifestyle holds true. Recreational activities like riding, hiking, and skiing are all elevated under the influence of marijuana. Here, we dive into the science of how cannabis enhances almost any activity.
THC and You
Euphoria by definition is a feeling or state of intense excitement and happiness. As you’ve probably noticed, there are a lot of cannabis strains out there that provide a euphoric feeling, but science is still figuring out the exact cause. We know that THC has psychoactive properties and can alleviate many physical and mental ailments, but we’re still a little in the dark about why things feel the way they do when you’re high on marijuana.
The most common cannabinoid found in cannabis is THC (Tetrahydrocannabinol). You probably know that THC is responsible for the typical feeling of being “high.” It’s most commonly prescribed for pain relief and is known to alter the user’s behavior, perception, mood, and consciousness. THC is also an appetite stimulant and good for reducing nausea and vomiting, anxiety, and depression.
The US Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) stated in its online article “Marijuana”:
“The main active chemical in marijuana is THC (delta-9-tetrahydrocannabinol). The membranes of certain nerve cells in the brain contain protein receptors that bind to THC. Once securely in place, THC kicks off a series of cellular reactions that ultimately lead to the high that users experience when they smoke marijuana. …
As THC enters the brain, it causes a user to feel euphoric or ‘high’ by acting in the brain’s reward system, areas of the brain that respond to stimuli such as food and drink as well as most drugs of abuse. THC activates the reward system in the same way that nearly all drugs of abuse do, by stimulating brain cells to release the chemical dopamine.”
In general, this is the chemical process behind getting high.
Terry Necco stated in his article “Marijuana and Sex: A Classic Combination”:
“Just as our bodies contain pleasure systems which reward us for sex; our brains contain neurocellular circuitry which can only be activated by substances with THC’s molecular structure. This makes the marijuana high a unique constellation of feelings, and there are only two sources for the substances which activate THC’s very own neuroreceptor. Our brain is one source: it generates a neurochemical very similar to THC, called anandamide. Translated, the word means bliss. The only other source for this bliss-producing substance is the cannabis plant.”
Essentially, when you smoke weed, the THC in your lungs ends up in your bloodstream, which then carries the chemicals to your brain. As the cannabinoid interacts with your brain chemistry, food tastes better, water is crisper, and the sun feels better on your skin.
In his book Is Marijuana The Right Medicine For You?, Dr. Bill Zimmerman said:
“The sensation of being high is quite subtle. Typically, it differs slightly from one person to the next and from one experience to the next. There is often a sense of amusement and well-being (euphoria). There is a feeling of relaxation and calm. … People who are high seem to enjoy art, as well as the simple appearance of things, more profoundly than at other times. When marijuana produces effects like these, and the user is accustomed to the effects, it can be quite pleasurable, which helps explain why millions of people use marijuana solely for recreational purposes.”
But how does this information tie in with recreational activities? It’s chemistry! The dopamine and anandamide released when you smoke weed help create strong memories and personal bonds to places and experiences. You get excited and happy when you’re doing something you typically enjoy, and cannabis amplifies this process. Since things look, smell, and taste better when you’re smoking marijuana, you can expect to make more concrete memories.
Plenty of people say that snow sports are more fun when high. Colorado locals and tourists smoke and ride on the regular. It really comes down to YOU and your own endocannabinoid system. Believe it or not, less than 20% of snowboarders in a small Canadian survey smoke marijuana while snowboarding because it made them feel paranoid and perform worse overall.
On the other hand, you have other skiers and snowboarders who say that it makes the experience better. Rupert Taylor, a former snowboard instructor from Whistler said “Smoking a bowl of marijuana before riding puts me in the zone and I like the sensation of cruising when I’m stoned. I feel more confident, spin smoother and it feels good.”
As for biking, there is nothing quite like it. Even if you’re not out in nature, it just feels right to move your legs in a steady rhythm with the sun on your skin and the wind through your hair. If you have a mountain bike, you can take it out of the neighborhood and into the hills, where you can smell the pine trees and the fresh mud.
You can elevate your experience with cannabis, but be sure not to overdo it. Huge 40-foot cliffs and delayed reactions make for a bad time. Cannabis affects everyone a little bit differently, so only you can learn your limits and dose yourself appropriately.
As a general rule of thumb, don’t smoke before each and every activity. That’s how people develop bad habits. There’s a whole thread on Reddit from stoners who used to smoke to make things more fun and who later realized the dark side to this pattern.
So whenever you’d like to get out and enjoy yourself with some cannabis and recreation, take a look at our strain guide to decide which strain will accompany your activity best!