Marijuana, typically referred to as weed, is the most commonly used drug in the world with a record of 147 million people using it annually, which is 2.5% of the global population. In some countries, cannabis is even legalized, whether for medicinal or recreational purposes (or both) and is usually sold at local dispensaries. But why do so many people like using weed? The answer is for both its medicinal and psychoactive effects.
On the one hand, it’s used recreationally as a way for people to relax and unwind, alone or with a group of friends.
Medical cannabis, on the other hand, is mostly used as pain relief, as well as for treating some mood disorders and other conditions like epileptic seizures. (Miller, R. J. et al, 2017)
Furthermore, throughout history, cannabis has also been used for spiritual purposes in some religious practices. For example, in Hinduism, the responsible drinking of bhang (a drink containing cannabis) is believed to cleanse one’s sins.
But, regardless of how people use it, cannabis is here to stay, and if you plan on using it, you might have some questions that you need answers to.
Below we’ll answer one of the first questions that come to mind when we want to know more about the effects of weed – “How long do the effects of weed last”. We’ll tell you what to expect when and if you use weed depending on the method of consuming cannabis you’ve picked.
Cannabinoids in Weed (THC and CBD)
Weed is a psychoactive drug and a mixture of natural cannabinoids derived from the Cannabis plant, which consists of around 400 chemicals. The two main cannabinoids found in weed that affect our endocannabinoid system are Tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) and Cannabidiol (CBD), the former being the compound which produces the “high”, and the latter a compound mostly used for medicinal purposes because of its ability to relieve pain.
The rapid growth in cannabis use around the world is partly a result of the benefits that cannabinoids can give users when it comes to treating chronic pain and other medical conditions. Although there are no FDA-regulated guidelines and doses for the use of cannabis medicinally, it’s a fact that people use it nonetheless. (National Academies of Sciences, 2017)
Another reason why cannabis use is so widespread is the “high” it gives to those who consume it, which is a result of the effect THC has on the cannabinoid receptors in your brain. It can result in a feeling of relaxation, euphoria, and a case of the munchies, but it can also result in negative reactions like anxiety, delusions, and paranoia. The THC percentage in weed depends on the THC content of the particular strain of marijuana, while the cannabis high depends on the method of consumption.
How Is Cannabis Used?
Let’s walk through the ways in which people consume weed and the amount of time it takes for weed to enter our system before going into how long the “high” can last. Depending on the preference of cannabis users, the method of cannabis consumption varies.
Generally, there are four general methods in which people consume weed:
- Inhalation (smoking weed can be done by smoking a joint, vaping a vape pen, or using a bong);
- Ingestion (consuming cannabis edibles like candies, cookies, brownies, gummies);
- Dabbing (consuming cannabis concentrates like cannabis butters, oils, waxes, and live resin);
- Topicals (using cannabis-infused lotions, balms, and oils that are absorbed through the skin, which are used for localized pain relief and don’t produce a high in users).
The time it takes for you to start feeling the effects of cannabis fully can vary depending on the method you use. Users can experience the first effects of weed between 10 seconds and 10 minutes when smoking, and up to an hour or two when ingesting edibles.
Factors That Can Affect the High
Before talking about how long a “high” lasts, we first must look into other factors that affect how long you will be under the influence of weed, which also depends on:
- The THC levels in weed. It varies between about 20% of THC in a joint and 70% of THC in a dab;
- The amount of weed you consume. The effects last longer based on the amount of weed you consume;
- Your body weight and fat percentage. Because THC and CBD are lipid-soluble, once absorbed, they are stored in the fatty tissues. If you have a lower metabolic rate, your body processes outside materials slowly, and it will take a longer time for the cannabinoids to be released from your system;
- Your tolerance to weed. Weed can have a different effect depending on whether it’s your first time using, or if you are a frequent user;
- Whether or not you have eaten before. Like other substances whose effect can be heightened when used on an empty stomach, that is also the case with weed;
- Whether you have been using other substances. Using weed in combination with other drugs, prescription medication, or alcohol, can have a higher effect on you and also possible side-effects.
How Long Does a Weed High Last?
The “high” can last anywhere between 2 hours and 9 hours (or even the whole day) depending on the above-mentioned factors and the way in which weed is consumed. According to a site created by the Mental Health Education Foundation, Drugs and Me, the effects of weed last as follows:
- Inhaling – When smoking cannabis, the effects of marijuana can start anywhere between 2 and 10 minutes after consumption and can last from 2-8 hours, depending on the amount consumed.
- Ingesting – The effects of edibles usually start after 20 minutes or up to 2 hours after consumption and can last up to 9 hours or the whole day, depending on whether you have previously eaten or not. This is because the digestive system needs a couple of hours for users to start feeling the effects of the cannabis products. Even though the period of time before users can see the effects is longer when consuming edibles, users also experience a longer high.
- Dabbing – The effects are very similar to smoking, although if you’re using a high THC concentrate, the effects could last the entire day.
Can You End the Cannabis High Faster?
A question that people often ask is whether you can end your “high” faster. It’s one of the most common questions among first-time users and people who experience an intense “high”.
Even though there is some research that eating foods like lemon peel, black pepper, and pine nuts can counter the effects of THC, more research needs to be done in order to reach definitive conclusions.
The methods that are often used to get out of a high are hydration, taking deep breaths, and taking a cold shower. Even sleep can help you relax if you’re feeling paranoid by giving your body time to process and eliminate the weed.
Moreover, some people use CBD to counter the effects of THC, since it’s often used as a medication for pain relief and has calming effects.
The important thing to remember is that you should be mindful of the amount of weed you consume, to ensure that you have fewer or no side effects.
What About Prolonging It?
Some people look for ways to stay in that euphoric state for longer periods of time. Often, the ones who want to prolong their high use edibles since it takes longer to feel the effects from them.
Another thing people do is use a high-THC strain, although that, in turn, can result in more intense effects. This is not recommended for first-time users, because the side effects might be overpowering.
One study shows that mixing alcohol and weed can extend your high, although mixing alcohol and other substances is never a good idea because the side effects could be heightened. Also, it isn’t recommended for you to drink alcohol before smoking or ingesting weed because you could easily get overly intoxicated.
Final Thoughts On How Long Does a Marijuana High Last
As you can see, the answer to the “how long the effects of weed last” question depends on the individual’s cannabinoid system and how their body reacts to cannabis.
Generally, the length of the high depends on the way weed is consumed. The high can vary from 2 hours (when smoking) up to 10 hours or the whole day (if you consume edibles, or decide to use a dab).
Although the psychoactive effects of marijuana can last for up to a day, traces of marijuana can be found in the blood, urine, hair, and saliva for a longer period, sometimes even months. If you’re taking a drug test, take into consideration that it can take a longer amount of time for your body to detox from the weed.
Miller, R. J., & Miller, R. E. (2017). Is cannabis an effective treatment for joint pain?. Clinical and experimental rheumatology, 35 Suppl 107(5), 59–67. https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/28967368/
National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine. (2017). The health effects of cannabis and cannabinoids: The current state of evidence and recommendations for research. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press. doi: 10.17226/24625. https://doi.org/10.17226/24625.