Medically Reviewed by
Jason Crawford

Article Last Updated on December 31, 2022

Marijuana is one of the most commonly used drugs worldwide, and its legalization in some countries and in the United States, with more to come in the near and far future, has led to increased interest and use. There are various reasons why people use marijuana, from relaxing and unwinding after a long day, to treating various medical conditions.

If you want to try weed but don’t know what sensations to expect or how to tell when it has started working, we’ve prepared a little guide for you. Everyone’s experience will be unique to them, but there are some basic sensations that most people feel when they get high. Let’s review them.

What Happens When You’re High?

The main cannabinoids in weed, CBD (cannabidiol) and THC (delta-9-tetrahydrocannabinol), are the main players in the game. They work synergically to bring the best of the weed you’re using. THC is the main psychoactive compound that produces the feeling known as “the marijuana high”, while CBD is not psychoactive, but it’s there to balance out the effects of THC.

These cannabinoids interact with the endocannabinoid system by binding to the cannabinoid receptors located throughout the body and influencing their function. In this way, cannabis makes its way into your mind and body and makes you experience those unique effects of cannabis.

Factors that Can Influence Your Experience

As we’re all different, getting high will feel different for everyone. Some marijuana users will be more sensitive to weed, THC in particular, while others will handle it in their own way. There are also circumstantial factors to consider, so it could be said that your particular experience will depend on several different things.

  • How much you take – larger doses are associated with a bigger risk of side effects and withdrawal symptoms when cutting back on marijuana use;
  • What strain you use – Indica strains are known to produce a relaxing high, Sativa strains make you feel more energetic, while hybrid strains give a combination of these effects, depending on the strain;
  • The method of consumption – whether you’re smoking weed (in a bong or rolling papers), using a vaporizer, or ingest it through brownies or other edibles. There are different reaction times with different consumption methods. With smoking and vaping you can tell right away that you’re high, while with edibles it will take a while because they need longer to kick in;
  • Your physiology – the way your mind and body respond to psychoactive substances like THC;
  • Whether you drink alcohol at the same time – alcohol enhances the effects of THC which can lead to a more pronounced high, which might have a bad effect on some people.

Physical Manifestations

You may be wondering – how do you know when you’re high? Well, when getting high, it’s important to note the sensations you feel in your body, especially when you’re using weed for the first time. This doesn’t mean that you have to be hypervigilant of your reactions, but just to be aware of what is happening in your body and the common signs it sends.

Deep Relaxation or Body Buzz

The main physical effects when you’re high is feeling completely and utterly loosened up, like you can melt. You will feel like the tension in your body is slowly leaving and your muscles will feel more relaxed. Overall, you’ll feel less stress in your body, and depending on the strain, you may even start feeling lethargic, like you can sink into the couch.

Other strains will make you feel a light buzz throughout your body, like there’s a ball of energy traveling through each part of your body, making you feel perked up. Overall you’ll still feel relaxed, but instead of feeling like you’d rather chill on the couch, you’ll feel like you’ve just had coffee.

Feeling Hunger or “the Munchies”

Feeling like your stomach is a bottomless pit when you’re high, otherwise known as “the munchies”, is one of the most well-known tell-tale signs of being high. This effect is caused by THC mixing up the signals for satiety in the brain, so you won’t be able to tell when you’re full.

Feeling the munchies combined with the heightened sense of taste will also make you crave specific foods or flavors, or you may even end up eating different snacks that you wouldn’t normally eat together, but it’s all part of the experience.

Red Eyes

Having red eyes is most people’s most dreaded physical manifestation of getting high on weed, but it’s nothing to worry about. It’s not caused by the smoke getting in your eyes because of smoking marijuana.

Instead, it’s the doing of THC because when it enters the body it causes a short-term increase of the heart rate resulting in a fluctuation of the blood pressure which, in turn, causes the blood vessels to dilate. Since the eye area is sensitive, this dilation is the most visible there. However, there are ways you can reduce or prevent the appearance of bloodshot eyes quite successfully.

Mental Manifestations

If you’re not familiar with the mental sensations that weed causes, you might want to know what to expect. The most well-known effects of marijuana are the effects it has on your brain. This, combined with the physical sensations are all part of the experience because they work synergically.

Altered Perception

Weed doesn’t alter your senses the way some other psychotropic substances do, but it will cause heightened sensory perceptions. This doesn’t mean that you’ll experience an impairment of your senses, but it means that colors will appear more vivid and brighter, you will be more in tune with the sounds around you, and your sense of taste and touch will feel heightened.

Time Moves Differently

When you’re high, time seems to move differently. This is very similar to the sensation you get when you’re enjoying something and time seems to fly by, or when you’re bored and time seems to move slower than ever.

For example, when you’re high you may become super focused on something. Maybe something will get your attention and you’ll start observing it, or you’ll start doing something and get so absorbed by it that a few hours can seem like a few minutes.

Or, the opposite can happen – you may feel creative and start writing something or playing an instrument, and you’ll become hyper-focused on that, thinking that a few hours have passed by, and then you look at the clock and it’s only been 15 minutes.

Mood Changes & Amusement

Weed is also known to affect our mood because THC influences the chemicals in the brain that are responsible for this. That’s why a lot of people use medical marijuana to help them with their mental health when they’re experiencing anxiety and depression.

When you start feeling giggly and euphoric, like you want to hug the whole world, then you’re probably high. The feeling is somewhere between feeling elated and like being in a very good mood for no particular reason. When you’re high, things around you become much more amusing, even the little things, and you generally feel a lot more lighthearted than usual.

Heightened Creativity

Feeling a sudden surge of creativity is very common when you’re high, especially if you do some form of creative work anyway. You may feel like you’re getting ideas out of thin air, or you may start finding ways to connect seemingly disparate ideas and making sense of them. If you’re feeling energetic, you may even get up and start doing some work, it’s different for everyone.

Getting Philosophical

If you somehow find yourself talking about deep and meaningful things with great concern and interest, you’ll know that the weed has started working. This is another mental manifestation somewhat connected to feeling more creative, as it makes you think about abstract ideas.

Can You Get “Too High”?

The short answer is – yes, you can get “too high”. However, even though it’s unpleasant and you’ll experience some side effects, it’s not dangerous.

The side effects of weed can easily be averted with responsible use. Marijuana abuse, just like any other drug abuse can lead to some long-term effects. Teenagers younger than 18 are more susceptible to experiencing side effects as their bodies are still in development.

Therefore, inexperienced users always have to be mindful of the dosage. In large quantities, THC can cause heightened anxiety and even paranoia which can really dampen your experience. The same thing can happen if you take strains that are very powerful, meaning they have high THC levels.

Other common side effects that are no cause of concern are experiencing cottonmouth, meaning your mouth can get very dry, so you’ll need to make sure you have enough water near you.

Final Thoughts

Getting high can be a relaxing activity for some, while for others it’s one of the ways to treat a medical condition. Whatever the reason is, getting high feels different for everyone and it depends on things like the dose and the strain you’re using, as well as the method of consumption.

The main psychoactive compound is THC which interacts with the endocannabinoid system and affects different functions in the body. Weed’s effects manifest as physical and mental sensations, like a feeling of euphoria and deep relaxation. Some strains will make you feel energetic, while others will make you sleepy. Side effects can be avoided with responsible use and being mindful of the dosage.

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.