Passive inhalation of marijuana smoke: urinalysis and room air levels of delta-9-tetrahydrocannabinol

J Anal Toxicol. 1987 May-Jun;11(3):89-96. doi: 10.1093/jat/11.3.89.


In two separate studies, 5 drug-free male volunteers with a history of marijuana use were passively exposed to the sidestream smoke of 4 and 16 marijuana cigarettes (2.8% delta-9-tetrahydrocannabinol [THC]) for 1 h each day for 6 consecutive days. A third study was similarly performed with 2 marijuana-naive subjects passively exposed to the smoke of 16 marijuana cigarettes. Passive smoke exposure was conducted in a small, unventilated room. Room air levels of THC and CO were monitored frequently. All urine specimens were collected and analyzed by EMIT d.a.u. assay, Abuscreen radioimmunoassay and GC/MS. The studies show that significant amounts of THC were absorbed by all subjects at the higher level of passive smoke exposure (eg., smoke from 16 marijuana cigarettes), resulting in urinary excretion of significant amounts of cannabinoid metabolites. However, it seems improbable that subjects would unknowingly tolerate the noxious smoke conditions produced by this exposure. At the lower level of passive marijuana-smoke exposure, specimens tested positive only infrequently or were negative. Room air levels of THC during passive smoke exposure appeared to be the most critical factor in determining whether a subject produced cannabinoid-positive urine specimens.

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Air Pollutants / analysis*
  • Cannabis*
  • Carbon Monoxide / analysis
  • Dronabinol / analysis*
  • Dronabinol / urine
  • Environmental Exposure
  • Gas Chromatography-Mass Spectrometry
  • Humans
  • Immunoenzyme Techniques
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Radioimmunoassay
  • Smoke / adverse effects*


  • Air Pollutants
  • Smoke
  • Dronabinol
  • Carbon Monoxide