How long does a marijuana high last? What if it’s from an edible? Or a vape? We answer all of your questions. Check out the definitive guide on High Times.
Why Worry How Long Your Weed High Will Last?
Maybe things aren’t as dire as I’m imagining. Maybe you need to get behind the wheel eventually and want to know how long you should wait to drive. Perhaps you just want to know what kind of experience to expect from different cannabis products and delivery methods.
Perhaps you’re thinking strategically: that awesome band goes on at 10 p.m. and you want to plan your session before they hit, so you peak when they rock your favorite track. Or maybe you’re a medical patient who wants to leave space in the day for your treatment without compromising your productivity.
After all, there are all kinds of reasons you might be asking yourself “how long does a marijuana high last?” If you have some experience with weed, you probably already have a sense of how long your high sticks around. But you might still want to know how you can take control over that aspect of your experience.
And if you’re relatively new to cannabis, having an authoritative answer is an important part of making sure you have an enjoyable session. For everyone who enjoys cannabis, timing, as they say, is everything.
How Long Does A High Last? Use the “Highness Equation” to Find Out
It might not get past the peer review board of a medical journal, but here’s a more-or-less scientific way to “calculate” how long you can expect your weed high to last. Call it the “highness equation.”
The highness equation incorporates the four major aspects that determine how long your marijuana high will last. Here it is:
Length of High = ( (dose x concentration) / (metabolism x tolerance) ) x delivery method
So that’s the dose you take multiplied by the concentration of the product, divided by your metabolism times your tolerance, all multiplied by the delivery method factor: ingestion or inhalation.
In other words: how much weed you put in your body, divided by how your body processes and responds, all shaped by the specific path the weed takes through your system.
It’s less complicated than it sounds. And if you’re looking for a bottom line answer—the median, the average, the “ballpark,” then your answer is simple.
After you get high from inhaling weed, expect to stay high for about one to two hours. If you’ve eaten your cannabis, your high will last about 3 to 4 hours, maybe longer.
But if the tl;dr version doesn’t satisfy, read on to find out the factors that influence how long your high lasts. Then, once you figure out where you fall, you can start experimenting with ways to prolong, or if need be, shorten your high.
Your High Lasts As Long As THC Meets Up With Your Endocannabinoid System
But that doesn’t mean you necessarily feel high. And there’s the crux of the question. Your “high” is the sum of an infinitely complex series of metabolic and chemical reactions occurring all throughout your body.
Whether we perceive the effects of those reactions depends on their intensity and our sensitivity to them. And that’s why you’ll find studies claiming that the effects of cannabis can last from 5 hours up to a full day.
That may be true on a chemical level. But THC can interact with our bodies without giving us the experience of feeling high, especially at low levels.
And that’s where the bottom of our “highness equation” comes in: metabolism x tolerance. Being on the bottom of the equation means these are the factors that work against your high, shortening how long you feel the effects of THC.
Metabolism x Tolerance
There’s a common misconception that a person’s weight determines how high they get and how long that high will last. But in fact, it’s a person’s metabolism that plays a major role in the length of a high.
The length of your high depends on the presence of THC in your bloodstream. Your blood carries that THC to the network of cell receptors it binds to, the endocannabinoid system (ECS).
Your body is also in the business of metabolizing the stuff you put into it, breaking it down, taking what it needs, and expelling the rest.
So if you’ve got a high metabolism, your highs will tend to be shorter. Or at least, your body is working against the clock a little bit.
Then, there’s that elusive and hard-to-quantify factor of tolerance. In common parlance, we say we have a high or low tolerance to weed. But in reality, what we mean is that we have a higher or lower tolerance to the dopamine and other neurotransmitters our brain releases when THC meets up with the ECS.
The good news is, cannabis doesn’t so thoroughly deplete our dopamine supplies that we have to chase ever larger quantities to get the same effect.
But that also means THC’s powers are limited. Hence the ceiling effect frequent users experience, where no matter what they do, they can’t get higher than a certain point. If you’re hitting that ceiling, the answer to the question “how long does a high last?” is probably not long enough.
For most regular cannabis users, however, the same dose will produce roughly the same experience time after time. For heavy users, even a short “tolerance break” can restore your tolerance levels to their low defaults, making your next high feel more like your first.
However, if you’ve built up a tolerance over time or with frequent use, your high is going to feel shorter for sure.
If You Want a Longer High, Consider Upping Your Dosage or Using Higher-Potency Products
Now that we’ve covered what shortens the length of your high, let’s look at what extends it. This is definitely the simpler part of the equation.
Put more weed into your system, and in all likelihood, you’re going to have a longer high. That means smoking strains with higher THC concentrations. Or vaping concentrates—or even better distillates, with upwards of 85 percent THC.
It also means taking a larger dose. Not only will your high last longer, it will stretch out your peak so you enjoy your high as long as your body allows. How long does a high last for you if you smoke flower versus vape concentrates?
How Long Does A High Last: Calculating Dose x Concentration
The top of our highness equation is pretty self-explanatory. But a few points bear repeating.
If you’re new to cannabis, it’s really a good idea to start with smaller doses. Don’t feel like you have to take huge rips or smoke multiple bowls just because the other kids are doing it. If you want that, you’ll get there in due time.
For now, appreciate what you have, that veteran weed enthusiasts often sorely miss: those early, heady days when a single puff sent you to outer space. (Maybe that’s part of what drives dabbing culture: that desire to recreate those first encounters with weed—that inimitable intensity and euphoria.)
The rest of us are busy chasing that dragon with ever-higher concentrations and tech that makes huge doses possible. Rip a 2-gram dab in one sitting and you’ll be high for the better part of the day, probably. Rip 20 grams and you’ll probably feel high for the rest of the week.
So when it comes to dosage, that’s easy. Smoke or vape more for a longer high. Even better, spread out your sessions. That will keep tossing you back up to the peak of your high when you’re on your way down.
And in terms of concentration, look for high-THC strains and strains with ultra-low CBD. (CBD can counterbalance the effects of THC on your system, shortening your high.) Or just stick with concentrates and extracts.
The Delivery Method Factor: Inhale or Eat?
We’ve covered all the parts of the highness equation. Except for the one that shapes them all: delivery method.
Those who’ve tried them know that edibles tend to produce a much longer-lasting high than inhalation methods.
That’s because of the metabolic pathway that THC takes through your body when you eat it versus when you inhale it. To make a long story short, your digestive tract converts THC into a different active form than heating alone.
How long does a high last from consuming edibles? Well that form, THC-COOH, or carboxy-THC, has some serious staying power. But your body takes some time to produce it. That’s why you have to wait 45 minutes to an hour or so for an edible to really kick in.
Once that THC-COOH is pumping through your bloodstream, you’re along for the ride until your body is finished processing it. Again, that can be about three to four hours on average and sometimes longer.
So for those truly looking for an extended high experience and who have the patience for an edible or drinkable cannabis product to kick in, ingesting your weed is the way to go.
How Long Does A Weed High Last For You? Your Mileage May Vary
How long does a weed high last if you eat your cannabis? How long does a marijuana high last if you smoke flower? Just generally, how long does a high last? If you’ve come away with anything from this article, hopefully it’s an appreciation for the complex chemical dance that is a weed high, and all the factors that make up the answer to those questions.
Of course, there’s no definite, constant answer. The lengths of your own highs will change. No need to compare them to other folks’.
So, how long does a high last for you? If you plan on one to two hours for inhaled cannabis and three to four with ingested weed, longer with higher doses and concentrations and shorter with higher metabolisms and tolerances, you’ll be all set.
[Updated from a post originally published in July, 2018]
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