Can you smoke weed before a tattoo?

Can you smoke weed before a tattoo?

Getting a tattoo can be an exciting moment in life. The buzz of the shop, sensations of pain, and triumph of sitting create one blessed memory marked by a piece of art. Those who like weed may think lighting up before a tattoo appointment is common sense. After all, cannabis is said to reduce pain. However, it may not be the best move after speaking with tattoo shops in various legal weed states.

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Alcohol consumption, even 24 hours before a tattoo appointment, is not recommended. Most clients sign forms before sitting with an artist where they state they aren’t under the influence. The receptionist at Chicago Ink also pointed out on the phone that knowing whether someone is under the influence is situational.

If they notice someone may not be sober enough to get a tattoo at their shop, she will let the artist know, and it’s probable that person will have to reschedule for a time that they are less high.

Alcohol vs. weed when getting tattoos

Aside from the issues of being drunk while getting a tattoo, alcohol consumption can thin blood. Lots of bleeding can make it harder to tattoo someone. If the artist powers through, the resulting tattoo is often not as crisp as it could have been.

This rule goes for blood thinning prescriptions like Oxycontin, Xanax, tramadol, ibuprofen, and aspirin. There’s no use in trying to jump the gun on pain before getting a tattoo with OTC pain relievers before a session because it might make the process more difficult. Smoking or eating weed before a tattoo could do the same.

The person on the other end of the phone at Red Rocket Tattoo in New York City said there wasn’t any protocol against showing up responsibly lightly faded, but they don’t recommend it. Being high has been shown to reduce pain in certain circumstances, like as an opioid replacement for chronic pain patients, but it can also be an antagonist. Red Rocket Tattoo and Redditors in multiple threads on the topic pointed out that sometimes weed makes people hyper-aware of pain.

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Cannabis red flags for tattoo sessions

Another red flag about consuming cannabis before or during a tattoo is blood pressure. Getting high can lead to a heightened systolic blood pressure, and so can the tattoo process. Those with high blood pressure should avoid cannabis during a tattoo.

Minneapolis tattoo artist Anna Paulette doesn’t accept clients who are visibly inebriated. She also wouldn’t recommend first-timers get high before sitting for a tattoo. They could get heightened anxiety or an unusual reaction to pain. For those who aren’t getting their first tattoo, Paulette lists the same issue of heightened pain. Time also passes slower. Sitting for hours can be difficult when minutes are taking too long (a common side effect of weed).

“It might also be kind of a waste of smoke- so much more is happening with your brain chemicals during a tattoo. Adrenaline and endorphins are going to be flooding the system and doing their job to fight off that pain,” Paulette said. “So if someone is using THC medicinally, it probably wouldn’t be a problem to continue using it, maybe just discuss it with your doctor and your artist beforehand.”

All the tattoo artists and shop workers called didn’t see issues with the healing or tattoo process when a client is high, other than they may not sit still. The best time for weed is after the tattoo appointment is over, and not just smoking and eating it. There are some cannabis-infused lotions and aftercare products perfect for healing new ink.

Overall, nonpatients may reconsider smoking weed or popping a gummy before a tattoo appointment. Save the pain relief tools for after the session when the adrenaline and other brain chemicals wear off. When it comes to weed before a tattoo appointment, just say no–until after.

Cara Wietstock is senior content producer of and has been working in the cannabis space since 2011. She has covered the cannabis business beat for Ganjapreneur and The Spokesman Review. You can find her living in Bellingham, Washington with her husband, son, and a small zoo of pets.