The 100+ cannabinoids housed in weed engage with cannabinoid receptors located throughout the body. Tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) interacts with receptors located in the central nervous system. This interaction alters sensory perception.
THC changes the signaling these receptors normally make. Colors, sounds, and tastes are more vivid, crisp, and delicious than they are when you’re sober. You think in unusually creative ways and can even experience time differently. Typically, that’s what it feels like to be high.
A cannabis high can last between 2 and 10 hours depending on the consumption method, your body, and the amount of THC. Here’s the breakdown.
How Long Will You Stay High After Inhaling Cannabis?
You can inhale cannabis by smoking, vaping, or dabbing it. Inhalation is a quick method to experience the effects of cannabis.
You should feel the effects of smoking cannabis flower within 30 minutes. You will feel the effects of vaping or dabbing concentrates even more quickly—sometimes in under 10 minutes.
When you inhale cannabis, cannabinoids are dispersed into the bloodstream from the lungs almost immediately. While this means a quick onset of effects, it also means that the effects will end more quickly.
You can expect a cannabis high from inhalation to last between 1 and 3 hours. After effects of a cannabis high produced by inhalation can last up to 8 hours.
How Long Will You Stay High After Eating an Edible?
When you eat an edible, cannabinoids are delivered to your bloodstream through the digestive system. This method lasts longer than inhalation because the edibles are slowly released into the bloodstream as the food breaks down.
It can take up to two hours for you to experience the peak of an edibles high. An edibles high can last from 6 to 10 hours depending on the amount of THC consumed. The after effects of a cannabis high produced by ingestion can last up to 24 hours.
How Your Endocannabinoid System Affects the Duration of Your High
Cannabis affects people based on their individual biological and chemical makeup.
Everyone has an endocannabinoid system (ECS), a neurological system that plays a role in regulating most physiological functions. The ECS is composed of cannabinoid receptors, enzymes, and lipids that work together to facilitate processes including mood, metabolism, memory, mood, sleep, and stress.
Outside of the ECS, everyone has receptors and molecular pathways that regulate important processes such as serotonin receptors, vanilloid receptors, and orphan receptors. These receptors assist in the regulation of pain, anxiety, appetite, sleep, nausea and vomiting, and cancer cell proliferation.
Cannabinoids like THC and CBD engage with the ECS and other receptors to produce their effects. Genetic variation in the ECS and neurological receptors can cause people to experience cannabis effects differently, including their duration.
Not everyone likes to get high, and some people come down from a high more quickly than others. Genetic variance in our ECS and other molecular pathways is likely one explanation for that.
How to Extend Your High
Be it to treat a chronic condition or lengthen a recreational experience, you may want to extend your high. You can keep the high going by doing the following:
- Ingesting edibles. Ingested cannabis metabolizes differently than inhaled weed. In addition to releasing THC into the bloodstream over a much longer period of time, the THC metabolite produced through ingestion is actually more potent than the metabolite produced through inhalation.
- Eating mangos. There is limited evidence that suggests eating a mango can amplify and extend your high. The theory is that myrcene, a terpene found in mangos, has a synergistic relationship with THC conducive to psychoactivity.
- Consuming more pot. When the effects of your high begin to wear off, you can take another dose. Do this carefully, especially with edibles. The peak of an edibles high can take several hours to hit, so re-dosing too early might cause uncomfortably potent effects.
How to End Your High
There are a few reasons why you might want to shorten your high. Adverse reactions like paranoia, anxiety, lethargy, or impaired motor skills can make a cannabis high too uncomfortable. Or something that requires your sober attention might come up.
Here are ways that you can mitigate the effects of your weed high:
- Chew on peppercorn, lemon, or pine nuts. Black pepper, lemon, and pinene seem to have a taming effect on THC. Rather than amplifying the high, these foods may reduce its potency and anxiety levels because of the caryophyllene (black pepper), limonene (lemon), and pinene (pine nuts) they contain.
- Take some CBD. Some evidence suggests that CBD can offset the adverse psychological effects of THC. For this to work, the CBD dose needs to be pretty high. Australian researchers found that low doses of CBD (4 mg) actually enhanced THC’s psychoactive effects. High doses of CBD (400 mg) reduced THC intoxication.
- Take a nap. While sleeping won’t stop the high, it will drastically reduce the amount of time you spend actively experiencing it. By the time you wake up, you’ll likely feel sober and refreshed.
Tips for Beginners
Not everyone experiences a cannabis high the same way. While getting high is usually a positive experience, unpleasant side effects can cause serious discomfort.
If you’re new to cannabis, here are some ways that you can protect yourself from unpleasant symptoms:
- Avoid consuming cannabis on an empty stomach.
- Start with a low dose of THC (10 mg and under).
- Wait at least two hours between doses.
- Clear your schedule so you don’t have to worry about time constraints.
- Consume at home in a space that is comfortable and relaxing.
- Don’t mix cannabis with other substances like alcohol or prescription drugs.
- Let a trusted friend hang with you during your high so you have someone to help you if you become anxious.
- Keep snacks and water nearby for munchies and dry mouth.
These strategies give you time to evaluate your THC tolerance, decide if cannabis’ psychoactive effects are your cup of tea, and stay safe if you do have an adverse reaction.