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.
The science behind how long a high lasts: 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.
How long does a marijuana high last?
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.
What does being high feel like?
Similar to the longevity of a weed high, specific attributes of it will vary from person to person and cultivar to cultivar. How you experience certain strains, dosages, and product types may also evolve over time as your tolerance goes up or down or your body chemistry changes.
Most cannabis cultivars bring with them a general list of qualities that most people experience from them, from hunger to cerebral stimulation and creativity to couch lock. The stated effects of any strain, however, are more predictions than hard-and-fast rules. The more people who are able to take notes and share their experiences with a particular strain, the more accurate those predictions will be. Popular strains in the Weedmaps catalog, for example, will have more votes on flavors and effects, resulting in more accurate predictions.
That being said, some cultivars will quash anxiety for some and increase anxiety for others. What's more reliable is how the high evolves as it winds down. No matter how stimulating or relaxing the high starts out, the more euphoric aspects typically wane and sleepiness replaces them as the high evaporates. Again, all of these effects depend on the chemical makeup of a given cultivar as well as your genes, so exercise caution when trying any new strain or cannabis product.
How much weed does it take to get high?
This shouldn't come as a surprise, but the amount of weed needed to feel high also depends on several variables. THC is the intoxicating component of cannabis, and while other cannabinoids do play a role in enhancing a cannabis high, the amount of THC in a cannabis product will largely determine how high you'll get and for how long. As mentioned earlier, though, the method of consumption is an even bigger determining factor. So, even though a small weed chocolate may seem less intimidating than a fat blunt, the chocolate could get you much higher depending on how many milligrams of THC it contains.
Generally speaking, cannabis flower with a THC content of 20% or more is considered strong. Concentrates, meanwhile, can contain THC percentages of 70% or more. Of course, THC percentages don't tell the whole story, but they do provide a general idea of what a user should expect with flower or cannabis concentrates.
In the case of edibles, the key factor is also the quantity of THC in the product, which is measured in milligrams (mg). For brand new marijuana users, 2 mg of THC may be enough to feel some effects, while THC-tolerant consumers may need 100 mg or more to get high.
How you feel vs. the weed in your system
How long you stay high and how long weed stays in your system are two very different things. Since drug tests measure THC metabolites (byproducts of your body breaking down THC), it can take upwards of a month for the compounds to completely leave your system, depending on body mass index (BMI), body fat percentage, metabolism, frequency of use, the potency of the product, and genetics.
How to bring down your high?
If you're experiencing a particularly intense high, it's important to remember that it will pass and cannabis won't kill you. No deaths from marijuana overdose have ever been reported. For those who want or need to come down from a particularly intense high as quickly as possible, there are several tactics that may prove effective, such as taking very deep breaths, ingesting black pepper, hydrating, taking a cold shower, and consuming CBD oil, which may be able to counteract the intoxicating effects of THC by way of the entourage effect.
How to increase the length of your high
The higher the amount of THC, the less cannabis needed to achieve a high. If you want to increase the length of your high, you can either smoke more weed, opt for the longer-lasting, intoxicating effects of an edible, or consume cannabis products with higher levels of THC.
How long does weed last?
This is a different question than “How long does a marijuana high last?” because it has to do with how long you can expect to stretch your stash. If you plan on smoking one small joint every day, an eighth (3.5 grams) of flower should last you a week. Smoke one full-gram joint or more a day and that same eighth may only get you through the weekend. Concentrates are sold in small quantities (typically a half-gram or gram) but go a long way, depending on your tolerance. Cannabis edibles can also stretch far, depending on your tolerance, with the average recreational product containing a total of 100 mg of THC.
What if you have the opposite problem and don't finish your cannabis products quickly enough? When stored in a cool, dark, and dry place, flower, concentrates, and edibles can all last for up to a year. After that, the potency takes a nosedive and the product is more likely to spoil.
Major contributions from Dr. Adie Rae.