Medically Reviewed by
Jason Crawford

Article Last Updated on December 26, 2022

Cannabis consumption has been on the rise as more and more cannabis products are being offered on the market. Smoking weed may still hold first place as the most common way of using marijuana, but edibles and other products are slowly (but surely) finding their place. This also means that many new users are entering the community and many of them still have a lot to learn about the psychoactive effects of cannabis, as well as its medical properties.

For all the fuzzies that marijuana is capable of producing, even the most hardcore cannabis users will tell you that they detest the side effects that can sometimes ensue. The dry mouth, the feeling of dread, and all that… definitely not enjoyable. But even so, these things sometimes happen, and when you’re in that situation all you can think about is how to stop being high.

In today’s article, we’ll talk about the dreaded side effects of cannabis, and offer you some helpful tips on how to come down from a high when you’re feeling overwhelmed (and ways you can soothe yourself until it passes).

What Do Cannabinoids THC and CBD Do?

The cannabis plant has a rich chemical structure of which the cannabinoids THC (tetrahydrocannabinol) and CBD (cannabidiol) are the most important, the former being predominantly responsible for weed’s mind-altering effects. Next to them are the terpenes which have an auxiliary function and work together with the cannabinoids to enhance and improve the overall effects of weed – a phenomenon also known as the entourage effect.

THC and CBD interact with specific cannabinoid receptors in the human body that are located in parts of the brain that control memory, movement, mood, and pain, among others. THC is the psychoactive cannabinoid that causes the euphoric feeling known as “the high”, while CBD is non-psychoactive, but it improves the mood and controls the effects of THC from going overboard.

How Long Do the Effects of Cannabis Last?

How long you’ll stay high depends on several factors, mainly on your chosen cannabis strain and its THC content, your method of consumption, and your individual tolerance. Strains that are higher in THC will have more pronounced effects, for example, and are more likely to cause side effects, especially for first-time users.

Generally, the effects of marijuana high can last for several hours. For most people, the effects of smoking last about 3 hours, but after the first hour, the intensity slowly declines, while an edible can keep you high for up to 8 hours, as their onset is slower. Concentrates can be very intense, but their effects last for about 2 hours.

What Are the Side Effects of Being Too High?

Besides the cottonmouth and dry eyes that are very common side effects caused by THC, and which are uncomfortable at worst, experiencing panic, paranoia, and heightened anxiety along with an increased heart rate, are definitely the most unpleasant side effects.

Inexperienced users or users with low tolerance of THC are most likely to experience these side effects if they’re not careful. Even seasoned weed enthusiasts can get paranoid when high, especially if they consume large quantities of a strain that’s very powerful. So, a word of advice – always consume weed responsibly for an enjoyable and blissful high.

Is There Such a Thing as Marijuana Overdose?

Even though cannabis consumption can cause some very unpleasant side effects, so far, there haven’t been any reports of an overdose from marijuana. However, this doesn’t mean that users shouldn’t have boundaries with their weed use, as the active ingredients present in marijuana are powerful.

How to Sober Up From an Intense Weed Session

Every so often, it happens that a certain strain doesn’t agree with you, or you took another bite of that edible because you thought you could handle it (and you’re now wishing you had just stuck to one). It’s okay, it happens to the best of us. The most important thing is to know that it will pass, even though it feels horrible.

Let’s see what you can do to get “unhigh” effectively.

Hydrate Yourself

You bet we’re putting hydration first. It may seem redundant, but when you start feeling the dryness in your mouth, the first thing you’ll do is reach for a glass of water. Of course, just the water won’t sober you up, but it will help you feel better. The simple repetitiveness of sipping and swallowing can help to ground you and even comfort you.

Come Down With CBD Oil

If you have CBD oil on hand or any CBD product (capsules, edibles, etc.), then that would be great. CBD in itself prevents THC from fully taking over, so when you take additional CBD, it can actually help you curb the anxiety that you’re feeling. Even without the high, CBD products and CBD-dominant medical marijuana strains are commonly used by people to ease their anxiety symptoms, so it can help with calming you down.

Chew on Some Black Peppercorns

It may sound like nonsense, but chewing on black pepper can really help. A 2011 study published in the British Journal of Pharmacology has looked into this surprising effect of black peppercorns. They found that the terpenes present in black pepper, notably beta-caryophyllene, can tone down the intensity of THC. This means that chewing on peppercorns or even sniffing on them may provide you with instant relief.

Have a Fresh Citrus Peel

Citrus fruits are often talked about in the context of coming down from a high. The reason for it is limonene, the fragrant terpene that they all contain. This terpene is known to have anxiolytic and anti-stress benefits, and it’s primarily found in the citrus fruits’ peels.

A freshly squeezed lemon or orange juice may help to refresh you and put the color back in your cheeks (and even fight cottonmouth, as it would stimulate the salivary glands), but ingesting a fresh citrus rind will definitely help to sober you up.

Don’t worry, citrus peels are safe to consume, and are additionally packed with many other nutrients. You can soak some peel in hot water or tea, allow it to seep for a few minutes before drinking it.

Distractions Are Not Bad, For Once

When paranoia strikes, overthinking also strikes. While distractions may be a nuisance on a productive workday, when you’re a little too high, they can be a godsend. Distracting yourself can take on any form – from playing video games or watching TV, to talking to a friend or solving a puzzle – whatever gives you comfort. 

Crack Open a Window for Some Fresh Air

Fresh air alone may not be enough to sober you up completely, but it will be of huge help, especially if you’ve smoked marijuana. It will help to clear out the smoke and the smell, and it will refresh you. You don’t have to go out if you’re feeling too anxious, but opening a window and sitting close by will be enough. Take deep breaths and remind yourself that the feeling is temporary.

Take a Cold Shower

Showers are very refreshing, but cold showers are superior in this case. The water doesn’t have to be icy, but cold enough to invigorate you. The point of cold showers is to encourage breathing in deeply and lowering your blood pressure, which will calm you down.

If You Can, Sleep It Off

Finally, if you’re able to, just sleep it off. Time is all it takes to make yourself feel better when you’re too high, so try to be patient. You can reduce the intensity of the high, but to really sober up, you have to wait. Sleeping can really help to pass the time, or even napping or just resting in a comfortable corner can be comforting.

Final Thoughts

Getting too high for various reasons can happen to the best of us. Most of the time it’s either due to a potent strain or just inhaling too much smoke, but it can also happen to inexperienced users who don’t have much resilience to THC. The side effects are certainly unpleasant but can be combated in various ways. The most important thing is to know that you’re safe and that these feelings are temporary.

A passionate advocate for the benefits of cannabis. Fraser Horton, who has a background in botany and a strong love of nature, has spent years researching how cannabis affects the body and mind. He established Leaf Nation in 2020, where he has devoted himself to educating people about the legalisation of marijuana and its safe and responsible use. Fraser is committed to highlighting cannabis’ potential for improving wellness and working to dispel the stigma associated with its use.


The information presented on this page is provided as a public service to aid in education and is derived from sources believed to be reliable. Readers are responsible for making their own assessment of the topics discussed here. In no event shall Leaf Nation be held reliable for any injury, loss or damage that could happen if using or abusing drugs.