Does Weed Make You Poop?

Smoking marijuana is known for promoting a lot of effects, but can it actually make you poop? Much like coffee, cannabis often takes the blame for giving people the urge to go at sometimes inopportune moments. But if it’s true that weed gets the factory moving, this could actually have positive implications for people struggling with constipation and other types of digestive stress. 

So what does the science say about weed and poop? Can you develop gastrointestinal reactions? 

Direct Ways That Weed Makes You Poop

Research shows that cannabis might, in fact, make you poop. One cohort study in particular examined the impact of marijuana on constipation. The researchers found that constipation prevalence was lower among people who had recently used cannabis vs those who had not used cannabis. 

The recent cannabis users had a 7.5% prevalence of constipation whereas the non-cannabis users had a 10.2% prevalence of constipation. Cannabis use was associated with a 30% decreased likelihood of constipation. 

The reduction in constipation may be due to the fact that weed appears to alter the production of mucus in the digestive system. The mucus helps to soften stool and make it more watery. This process is guided by a natural endocannabinoid called 2-AG, which is produced by the body and regulates digestive behavior. Cannabis helps to reinforce the natural endocannabinoid activity in the body by influencing cannabinoid receptors, which may help explain the increase in digestive motility. 

While more research is still needed to uncover the exact relationship between weed and digestion, there definitely is a connection. Whether it’s your first time smoking weed or your ten-thousandth time, you can expect the cannabinoids to give your gastrointestinal system a workout. 

One important thing to note: If the effect is particularly severe, leading to incontinence or a constant need to race to the bathroom, it’s a good idea to see a doctor. Extreme digestive unrest may be a symptom of cannabinoid hyperemesis syndrome, a very rare but serious condition that results in sickness from consuming cannabis.

Indirect Ways That Weed Makes You Poop 

The impact of cannabis on bowel movements isn’t just limited to digestion. There’s another system at work: the parasympathetic nervous system. Sometimes called the “rest and digest” system (as opposed to the sympathetic nervous system that manages “fight or flight”), this is a network of nerves that helps your body to relax—especially after periods of trauma or stress. 

Cannabinoids like THC and CBD help to activate the parasympathetic nervous system, placing the body in a more relaxed state. Because it’s obviously hard to have a smooth bowel movement while you’re in a fight-or-flight state (hence the fact that discomfort prevents many people from defecating in crowded public restrooms), activating the parasympathetic nervous system can help to get things moving again in your digestive tract. 

Does Quitting Weed Cause Diarrhea Symptoms?

Anecdotally, cannabis withdrawal has also been linked to diarrhea, though research here is limited. People who use cannabis for gastrointestinal issues like Crohn’s Disease may experience these symptoms more prominently than the average consumer. 

Because cannabinoids have been shown to regulate gut bacteria and motility, a sudden absence of cannabis may cause temporary gastrointestinal distress. The body’s endocannabinoid system has been accustomed to having a higher concentration of cannabinoids in the body; when these extra cannabinoids disappear, it can temporarily throw things off balance. These effects should subside within a few days.

Can Marijuana Be Effective for Digestive Issues?

So if we’ve established that cannabis affects digestion, is it then logical to assume that cannabis might be effective for addressing chronic constipation and other digestive issues? Actually, yes. 

Many states already recognize medical marijuana as an acceptable treatment for conditions like Crohn’s Disease and irritable bowel syndrome (IBS) because research shows tremendous promise for using medical cannabis products to regulate gut activity. 

You have to consider the symptoms, though. If you have IBS that causes diarrhea, there’s a possibility that cannabis might exacerbate the problem. However, if your IBS results in persistent constipation and abdominal pain, cannabis might help to provide some relief. 

Because issues of digestive health and cannabis can be nuanced and complex, it’s vital that you talk to a qualified medical marijuana doctor before using cannabis to treat any chronic condition. 

For best results with digestive issues, you’ll want a strain that’s high in both THC and CBD (preferably with a 1:1 ratio). Cannabis strains like Harlequin, Critical Mass, and ACDC are excellent options. You can find a number of high-CBD strains in our Seattle dispensaries, as well as premium THC tinctures with a 1:1 ratio of THC to CBD.

The Straight Poop on Cannabis 

To sum it all up, yes, you can probably blame some of your intestinal enthusiasm on your wake-and-bake habit. But on the plus side, know that those cannabinoids are just helping your gastrointestinal system and your parasympathetic nervous system to do what they’re supposed to be doing. 

At worst, the need to poop is a minor inconvenience. At best, cannabis might actually help to regulate some of your worst stomach issues. So light up and enjoy!