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Duration of a Cannabis High: Factors and Implications

Duration of a Cannabis High: Factors and Implications

Setting foot into the world of cannabis, whether for recreational or medicinal purposes, often leaves novices with one burning question: "How long will the high last?" Answering this question is not as straightforward as it might initially seem.

Setting foot into the world of cannabis, whether for recreational or medicinal purposes, often leaves novices with one burning question: "How long will the high last?" Answering this question is not as straightforward as it might initially seem.


Monday, July 17, 2023


min read

Understanding Cannabis and Its High-Inducing Components

Before we delve into the specifics of how long a cannabis high can last, it's important to understand what actually contributes to this high.

Cannabis, often referred to as weed or marijuana, comes from the Cannabis sativa plant. This plant produces over 113 chemical compounds, known as cannabinoids, each carrying distinct properties. The two most common and researched cannabinoids are delta-9 tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) and cannabidiol (CBD).

While both THC and CBD have medicinal properties, it's the THC that's primarily responsible for the psychoactive effects, or the 'high', associated with cannabis consumption.

The High: An Overview of Onset and Duration

Typically, when cannabis is smoked or vaped, the high can kick in within a few minutes and last anywhere between 30 minutes to 3 hours. Ingesting cannabis in the form of edibles, however, can prolong the high, sometimes lasting up to 12 hours, depending on the dosage.

This wide range might not be very helpful if you're trying to plan your first experience. So, let's delve deeper into the factors that can influence the onset and duration of a cannabis high.

Factors Influencing the Onset and Duration of a Cannabis High

Method of Consumption

How you consume cannabis dramatically impacts how quickly you feel the effects and how long they last.

  • Smoking or Vaping: This method allows THC to be directly absorbed by your lungs and into your bloodstream, reaching your brain within minutes. The onset of the psychoactive effects occurs within 5 to 10 minutes after smoking or vaping, and the high typically lasts 1 to 3 hours.

  • Dabbing: Dabbing involves smoking a THC concentrate through a special pipe, producing a rapid onset of a high, often nearly instant. The high usually lasts 1 to 3 hours, similar to smoking or vaping. However, given the higher THC content in dabs, the effects can feel more intense.

  • Edibles: When you consume cannabis-infused food or drink, your digestive system metabolizes the THC, which can take a while. The effects usually kick in within 30 minutes to 2 hours, but can sometimes take as long as 4 hours. The high from edibles can last anywhere from 2 to 10 hours, depending on the dose and individual factors.

  • Tinctures: Using cannabis tinctures sublingually (under the tongue) can result in the effects being felt within 15 minutes. As with edibles, the high from tinctures can last several hours, depending on the dose.

Type and Strain of Cannabis

The type or strain of cannabis you consume plays a pivotal role in determining the duration of the high. Cannabis strains with higher THC content will likely produce a longer-lasting high.

In recent years, cannabis growers have been increasing the THC content in their plants, resulting in more potent strains that trigger a more intense and long-lasting high.

Individual Physiological Factors

Your body's metabolic rate, weight, gender, genetics, and even your level of tolerance to THC can all impact how long a cannabis high lasts.

People with higher metabolic rates can process cannabis more quickly, which may result in a shorter high. Similarly, individuals who use cannabis frequently may develop a tolerance to THC, meaning they might experience weaker effects that don't last as long.

Dietary Considerations

Certain foods can potentially influence the duration and intensity of a cannabis high. For example, anecdotal reports suggest that eating mangoes, which contain a compound called myrcene, can prolong and intensify a cannabis high. Conversely, fat-rich foods may reduce the effect of THC.

Concurrent Use with Alcohol

Mixing cannabis with alcohol can lead to a stronger and longer-lasting high, as alcohol slows down the metabolic process, causing THC to stay in the body's system for longer. However, combining these substances can lead to adverse effects, including nausea, vomiting, dizziness, sweating, and increased impairment.

Tips for Cannabis Newbies

If you're new to cannabis, here are some tips to ensure a safe and enjoyable experience:

  • Start with a low-THC strain.

  • Keep your dose low and wait at least 2 hours before re-dosing, especially if using edibles.

  • Try cannabis when you have ample free time to experience the high, like on your day off.

  • Have water handy to help avoid dry mouth.

  • Eat something before consuming cannabis, and keep snacks on hand— the munchies are real.

  • Avoid mixing cannabis with alcohol or other substances.

  • Have a friend with you in case you become anxious or have a bad reaction.

Concluding Thoughts

The duration of a cannabis high can be influenced by a myriad of factors, making it a unique experience for each individual. Start with a low dose and take it slow. Give your body time to process the cannabis, especially if you're consuming edibles.

As always, it's best to consult with a healthcare professional if you have questions about potential interactions, the best ingestion method for you, or the duration of a cannabis high.

Remember, responsible use is key to enjoying the benefits of cannabis while minimizing potential risks. Happy exploring!

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