Ways to Say No to Marijuana

Many people find themselves in a situation where they are offered marijuana. Saying no can feel awkward—you don't want others to see you as uptight, judgmental, or fearful, but you have your reasons for not wanting to use marijuana. The best ways to say no to marijuana are casual, polite responses to an offer, which provide an excuse that can't be argued with. Here are five top phrases for refusing a toke.


I'm Driving

Woman driving
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This is the ultimate excuse. There are many myths about marijuana around including that it doesn't affect your ability to drive and that you can't get in trouble with the law for driving under the influence of marijuana, but these are simply not true.

Driving under the influence of any psychoactive drug puts lives at risk, including your own.

This response is also great role modeling for others, who also may want a good reason to say no to cannabis. Anyone who pressures you to use cannabis after you give this response isn't worth listening to.


No Thanks, I've Tried It and I Didn't Like It

This response is particularly valuable if you are around lots of other people who are trying marijuana for the first time, and you are under peer pressure to be one of the crowd. It will deflect all the annoying persuasive tactics that other smokers will use to suggest that you can't know whether you don't want to use marijuana unless you try it. Obviously, it is most convincing if it is true—if you haven't used marijuana before, you might feel more comfortable using a different response.

Don't get caught up in explaining what it was about getting high on marijuana that you didn't like—if you are asked, say, "I just didn't like it." No one can argue with that.


I've Quit Smoking

This is a good response if you don't want to come across as anti-drugs. Many marijuana smokers are highly critical of cigarette smoking, arguing that nicotine is a more harmful drug than cannabis, and the risks of relapsing to cigarette smoking after smoking marijuana should be obvious.

Anyone who pressures an ex-smoker to smoke is obviously lacking in respect and understanding of the harms of smoking and doesn't deserve your company.


I Want to Keep a Clear Head

Variations on this response are, "No thanks, I've got work tomorrow," "No thanks, I've got an early start in the morning," "No thanks, I have to finish some homework later," or "No thanks, I don't want to feel groggy." This is a great way of letting people know that drugs do not rule your life, nor will you let them interfere with your day to day functioning. It communicates that you have a life beyond what is happening in the room at the time. Keeping a clear head may not be important to everyone, but it should be to you.


No Thanks, I'm Not Into Drugs

This is a tricky response to get right, but if you do, it can help you to avoid a multitude of other annoying offers of drugs in the future. Because you are talking about yourself, and not anyone else, you can deliver the message without value judgments about drug use. If anyone retorts with asking why you are not into drugs, the best response is, "It's a personal choice."

People who are pro-legalization base their entire argument on the concept of personal choice, so they should respect your point of view.

This also implies you have good reasons for declining marijuana, but that they are personal, and not open for discussion. If you receive more questioning or pressure to take a toke, simply repeat what you said before, and walk away.

2 Sources
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  1. Martin JL, Gadegbeku B, Wu D, Viallon V, Laumon B. Cannabis, alcohol and fatal road accidents. PLoS One. 2017;12(11):e0187320. doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0187320

  2. Weinberger AH, Delnevo CD, Wyka K, et al. Cannabis Use Is Associated With Increased Risk of Cigarette Smoking Initiation, Persistence, and Relapse Among Adults in the United States. Nicotine Tob Res. 2020;22(8):1404-1408. doi:10.1093/ntr/ntz085

By Elizabeth Hartney, BSc, MSc, MA, PhD
Elizabeth Hartney, BSc, MSc, MA, PhD is a psychologist, professor, and Director of the Centre for Health Leadership and Research at Royal Roads University, Canada.