How Long do the Effects of Marijuana Last?

We all know that the effects of cannabis can be wonderful, soothing, therapeutic, and even exciting! There are many benefits to using this herb, and you’re bound to have a good time with it. But let’s say you are a medical marijuana patient, and you need to know when the effects wear off and you need to take your next dose. Or maybe you’re a recreational user, and you want to be your normal self for some appointment. Or maybe you’re just curious, or you’re in the middle of a “bad trip” – that anxious feeling when you’re high but something bad has happened around you, so you’re not happy anymore. Exactly how long does a weed high last?

Method of Consumption

Marijuana consumption

The duration of a marijuana high depends largely on the way you took the marijuana to begin with. If it’s your first time using cannabis, it won’t be the same as if you’ve been using it for awhile. You may feel euphoric, panicky, or you may not feel anything at all.

Tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) is the main psychoactive chemical in cannabis. In other words, that’s what gets you high. There are two main ways of getting THC into your system: inhalation and ingestion.

Inhalation

The classic way of using weed is to inhale it in the form of smoke or vapor. This can be done using one of several pieces of gear, from a regular joint, to a dab rig or a vaporizer. When you inhale THC your lungs, it transforms THCA into THC. The THC is then absorbed through the lungs, and can saturate the brain in 0 to 15 minutes. The peak of the high will be at one to three hours, sometimes lasting up to five hours. The high will normally fade out after that, but some high-potency strains will last a bit longer.

Ingestion

The other way to consume marijuana is to literally eat it, either in food or in the form of a capsule. Done this way, the liver converts THC into 11-hydroxy-THC, which takes longer to travel to the brain. Once it does reach the brain, it crosses the blood-brain barrier much easier, making your high more intense. Effects will start happening after 20 minutes to two hours. After the high begins, it can last four to six hours, and sometimes up to eight, depending on how much cannabis you ate. Toward the end of this high, you’ll probably get sleepy and want to take a nap. The recommended dose for a first-timer using edibles is 10mg.

Remember, there are other things that can affect your high, such as the strain and dosage you take. High potency strains and high doses will be more intense, and possibly last longer. Normally, indicas produce more of a body high, while sativas produce more of a head high. Your physique – age, weight, body fat, and tolerance level – can also influence things. A bigger person might require a slightly higher dose or potency to feel as high as a smaller person.

As you use marijuana, your body will build up resistance to it, which means your tolerance goes up. That means it takes more for you to get high and stay high. That’s why people who have been smoking a long time will usually buy more weed or a more potent strain than a beginner. This can be a good thing for medical marijuana patients who need the medicinal properties, but aren’t really looking to be stoned all the time.

Little tip: if you get high on an empty stomach, your high will last longer. It works backwards, too – if you want to shorten your high, eat something. Whatever you do, please do not starve yourself trying to say high. Just smoke some more weed, you lazy bum!

Effects of Weed

One of the big questions for a lot of people is, how does it feel to use cannabis? What are the effects? Well, basically what happens is that all of your senses spike, so everything is more intense. It alters your perception of everything – colors are vibrant, music is clearer, and your cat will feel softer. Cold and heat are more intense, and time seems slow down. Your brain is being flooded with dopamine, which will make you calm and happy. If you were in pain before, it may seem to ease up while you’re high – ladies, keep this in mind for cramps. You’re welcome.

Oh, one more thing – you will get hungry. Very hungry. This doesn’t happen at first, but after awhile, it will. This hunger is often referred to as “the munchies”. When you get the munchies, you may crave strange things and eat more than usual. When you do eat, your food will probably taste amazing thanks to your boosted senses. At the end of the high, you might get sleepy and want to nap. Then you’ll wake up feeling fresh as a daisy, possibly after some fascinating dreams.

It is possible for outside influences to have an effect on your high. Environment is a big deal, and can mean the difference between a great time or a panic attack. Always surround yourself with things that make you happy, never with scary or negative things. Taking other drugs along with cannabis may also alter your experience. If you’re on medication, and are starting medical marijuana as well, you may want to ask your doctor what you should expect with your individual mixture of drugs.

If you want to know the cool science side of all this, you should check out information on the endocannabinoid system in your body. It’s pretty dope.

Weed and Driving

Weed and driving

This is a very controversial topic. Some people drive just fine while they’re high, though they’ll probably be driving like your grandma. But it’s always best to wait and sober up before doing anything potentially hazardous, including driving. For one thing, you need to feel comfortable and safe while you’re high, and driving could potentially put you in stressful situations. But more importantly, weed can make you sleepy and slow your reflexes, which means driving could be dangerous for both you and everyone else on the road.

I encourage you not to drive high, but I also can’t stop you from doing so. If you insist on high driving, at least keep it at a small distance, and take it slow and steady. No long trips, no drag races. Just chill out, man! Got it? Good.

Cannabis Hangover

Some of the smaller effects of marijuana may be felt for the next couple of days after you get high. These might include moving and reacting slowly, losing track of time, and being a bit forgetful. While the main “acute” effects of marijuana only last a few hours, it has a long half-life. A drug’s half-life is the time it takes to reduce in concentration by half in blood that is circulating. THC moves from the bloodstream to make its home in fat pretty quickly. Once there, it will stay in your body fat for a more extended period of time. As you burn fat, the THC re-releases into your bloodstream, where it will influence your internal environment. This doesn’t mean you’ll just keep on feeling high; it often results in what we call being “washed”, otherwise known as a “cannabis hangover”. This is more common with high doses of weed than with lower ones.

Don’t worry – if you’ve ever had an alcohol hangover, you can rest assured that a cannabis hangover is not nearly as intense. It won’t leave you in bed all day. You’re more likely to just feel tired and hazy. Here are a list of symptoms you may experience:

Symptoms of Cannabis Hangover

  • Fatigue/drowsiness
  • Brain fog
  • Dry eyes
  • Headache
  • Dehydration

 

I’m not just going to give you a list of symptoms, I’m going to give you some help. Want to fix your cannabis hangover? Here are some tips on how to do just that.

Treatments for Cannabis Hangover

  • Lots of water
  • Healthy food
  • Vitamin B12
  • Omega 3 fatty acids
  • A good night’s sleep

Weed In Your System

Once THC has entered your bloodstream, it metabolizes quickly into molecules known as metabolites. There are at least 80 different metabolites that are formed from THC. About 30% of THC leaves the body through urine, and about 60% leaves the body through feces. A very tiny amount leaves the body intact. THC can be noticeable in urine for up to three days after your last dose, if you don’t smoke often. However, if you do smoke a lot, it can be traced in your urine for weeks or even months from the last time, depending on how much you usually smoke. In hair follicles, THC can be traced for a minimum of 90 days after your last use.

Teenagers and Cannabis

Teens and adolescents experience the effects of weed for much longer than adults. So if you or your kid are in the teen years, you’ll want to keep that in mind.

“Not only does the teen brain have more places for cannabis to land, if you will, it actually stays there longer. It locks on longer than in the adult brain… For instance, if they were to get high over a weekend, the effects may still be there on Thursday and Friday later that week. An adult wouldn’t have that same long-term effect” – Dr. Francis Jensen, neuroscientist, chair at the department of neurology at the University of Pennsylvania Proman School of Medicine, and author of The Teenage Brain

High-CBD Strains and Microdosing

If you’re a medical marijuana patient, you may be getting a strain that’s high in CBD and very low in THC. These strains will probably not make you feel very high at all, but they have a lot of medical benefits for you, the patient. Don’t worry if your high-CBD strain doesn’t send you above the clouds; it’s still doing its job.

If you’re not using a high-CBD strain, but don’t really want to be too high, you can try microdosing. This means that you take very small doses often, maybe every hour or two. This way you get the benefits, but you still feel functional enough for your day-to-day life.

Help! I’m Too High!

Woman smoking marijuana

Sometimes, if you’ve had a lot of marijuana, or something bad happens while you’re high, you can get the feeling that you’ve overdone it with the weed. It can be scary. You might feel panicked, anxious, confused or nauseous. In extreme cases, sometimes people faint or experience a blackout. If you are feeling this way, then I have very good news for you: no one has ever died from cannabis overdose. It’s just a bad feeling. That’s all it is. So if you’re having a bad trip, just remember, it will pass. Eat some healthy food, drink lots of water, surround yourself with positive things, and sleep if you can. You could also try going outside for a nice, deep breath of fresh air and a change of atmosphere. Or, you could take a shower for some soothing sensory experiences. A hot shower feels good, and a cold shower awakens the senses. Try both to see what you like.

If you’re up for experiments, here are some more remedies that may help:

  • Pure CBD oil (without the THC)
  • Black pepper
  • Lemon juice

Any of the above things have properties that can help reduce cannabis related anxiety. The only true cure for a cannabis high, however, is time. Just relax, do what you need to do, and wait it out. Remember, despite some of our best efforts, highs don’t last forever. It will be over soon.

If you’re new to the wonderful world of cannabis, my advice is to start slow, with a lower potency strain, or at least one that’s high in CBD. Then, as you become more experienced and learn your tolerance, you can start playing around with your experience. The most important part of all of this is to have fun. Cannabis is a good, natural plant that is full of benefits and generally enhances life. Take advantage of that. Surround yourself with fun things, like pretty lights, good music, and soothing feels. And always keep your kitchen stocked up on munchies! Let yourself relax. Welcome to the wonderful world of weed!

This article originally published at MMJ Canada

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