The not-so-simple answer to this question is anywhere from 30 minutes to 12 hours. If that range sounds wildly large, that’s because it is. The intensity and duration of a weed high all depend on your body chemistry, the consumption method, and the dose. And depending on the product itself, weed can facilitate a range of mental and physical effects from euphoria and increased sensory awareness to sleepiness and an increase in appetite.
Whether you’re looking to reap the potential therapeutic benefits of cannabis or simply have a good time, it’s worth the time and effort required to understand different variables that can affect that experience. In this guide, we’ll cover the science behind cannabis highs, what being high feels like, and how to control the duration of your high.
What affects how long the high lasts?
Different factors affect how long a person stays high, including:
- the type or strain of weed
- a person’s individual characteristics, such as metabolism and tolerance
- the method of consumption, for example, smoking or edibles
- taking other substances, such as alcohol
Type of weed
Whether the cannabis plant is male or female and whether it contains seeds are some features that determine a weed strain’s composition. The type of high that weed induces depends mostly on the THC and CBD content.
Weed is stronger in the forms of sinsemilla and hashish than in other strains, as they contain high THC levels. Because of this, they are likely to create longer highs.
Cannabis growers have been increasing the THC content in their plants over recent years, causing the leaves to trigger a more potent high.
The most common methods people use to get high on weed are:
- inhaling vapor
- consuming edibles
The method of cannabis consumption will affect how long and potent its effects are.
Once THC reaches the bloodstream, the body absorbs the compound quickly, triggering mind-altering effects.
People often smoke weed alongside tobacco in cannabis cigarettes. The effects of smoking in this way depend on the amounts of cannabis and tobacco within the cigarette.
When smoking cannabis, THC reaches the blood quickly, creating a high that lasts 1–4 hours.
Cannabis vapes trigger a similar duration of high to smoking the substance, although the drug’s effects are stronger. The vapor contains cannabis resin, which forms when cannabis products are heated. Different products can produce this vapor, including vape pens, water pipes, or bongs, while the effects vary according to their size and cannabis content.
Food products that contain cannabis, such as brownies or cookies, are called edibles.
The body of a person with a high metabolic rate will process cannabis more quickly. Because of this, THC can reach their bloodstream faster, but the duration of the effects will probably not last as long.
Some foods contain chemicals that can strengthen and extend a high. For example, anecdotal reports suggest mangoes can have this effect. In contrast, other food items may reduce the effect of weed, such as those rich in fat.
Cannabis and alcohol use often go hand in hand. Together, they strengthen each other’s effects. Drinking alongside cannabis use also causes the THC to stay in the body’s system for longer than usual, as the alcohol slows down the metabolic process. This extends the duration of the high.
Be aware that mixing cannabis and alcohol comes with several risks.
Those who ingest weed more frequently will likely have a greater tolerance to the substance than those who do not. A person with a higher tolerance for cannabis may find its effects are weaker and do not last as long.
Everyone is different
Much of your reaction to cannabis will depend on your biological makeup. Different types, or strains, of cannabis can produce different effects as well. One cultivar may lead to a sleepy high while another one leaves you feeling more alert. But don’t expect the cannabis plant you smoked to have the exact same effect on your friend. Just like your buds, every bud is different.
Why is there so much variability in how we experience cannabis? Thank the human endocannabinoid system (ECS) for allowing weed to affect us and to affect us all differently. Put simply, the endocannabinoid system is the network of receptors, lipids, and enzymes that help the body maintain internal balance and regulate several bodily functions. Cannabis users feel a high when the cannabinoids in the plant they consumed (aka intoxicating THC and soothing CBD) interact with their bodies. Cannabinoids produce an effect by binding to the body’s cannabinoid receptors, where they are then broken down by enzymes. Our cannabinoid receptors have genetic variations from person to person, which in turn can alter the effects of cannabis, including the duration of intoxication.
There are several factors that determine the answer to this question, but the primary factor in the duration of a cannabis high is the method of cannabis consumption. The high you get from eating an edible is going to last much longer than the high you get from a few puffs of a joint. That’s because the length of the high reflects the amount of time it takes for the THC to reach peak saturation in your bloodstream and then get expunged from your system.
When smoking cannabis, the onset of the high is nearly immediate. THC levels peak within the first 30 minutes to an hour after inhalation, according to both anecdotal evidence and a 2011 study published in the Journal of Addiction Medicine. The high from smoked marijuana can last up to several hours, though the intensity will generally decrease after the first hour or so.
Cannabis edibles operate very differently. Before you can feel any inkling of a high, your digestive system has to first break down the edible. Then the THC gets metabolized through the liver and enters the bloodstream, taking anywhere from 30 minutes to 3 hours for the effects to kick in. Depending on the amount of THC consumed and your tolerance for it, an edible high can last a few hours to a full day. The peak of an edible high generally lasts from one to 3 hours.
When dabbing concentrates, the onset of effects is nearly immediate, but the duration depends largely on individual tolerance. Those who dab high-THC concentrates regularly may feel the effects wearing off within one to three hours, while someone entirely new to dabbing may be wiped out for the day.
Again, your biological makeup, along with the chemical makeup of the cannabis you’re consuming, will determine how long a cannabis high and any potential side effects will last. Products that contain only THC may produce a more intense, cerebral high, while products that feature a balance of THC and CBD usually produce a more balanced high.