By Ben Owens
One of the most common concerns surrounding cannabis consumption is the debate over how long a high actually lasts. Especially if you’re newer to cannabis, you will likely want to know how long the effects last and prepare accordingly. If you’re considering a cannabis high for the first time, look at your schedule and ensure to block out at least six hours out for your experience. You may even want to take the day off your first few times to avoid additional stresses such as obligations or outings.
While efforts like the old “this is your brain on drugs” propaganda want you to believe you’ll be high forever, the answer is simpler: the general maximum length for a cannabis high is around 6 hours, but that can vary depending on a variety of factors.
Some people also claim to experience an afterglow (remnant feelings/sensations of the high) for longer than that. This may be attributed to how their bodies are processing cannabis, but could also be a mental adjustment to the unfamiliar sensations caused by the plant.
Factors affecting how long a high lasts:
Form of THC consumption
The way that you consume cannabis will affect how long a high lasts. If you eat your cannabis, you have to wait for it to digest and slowly enter the bloodstream (often taking 1 – 2 hours), which will lengthen the high. If you smoke it, THC enters the bloodstream more rapidly through the lungs.
Quantity of THC Consumed:
This one should be obvious, but the more cannabis you consume, the longer your high will last as your body must process larger quantities of cannabis over a longer period of time.
Quality of Consumption
If you’re barely inhaling from a joint, you’re going to ingest significantly less cannabinoids compared to vaporizing the herb or eating it. These latter methods avoid missing out on the full bounty of cannabinoids that you’re consuming.
Strain and Terpenes Being Consumed
Cannabis comes in a variety of strains, each with unique attributes and terpene combinations that can be attributed to a range of effects and a variety in length of high.
Environment and Surroundings
If you are unfamiliar with the place that you are consuming in, you may feel exaggerated effects that could be elongated by this heightened sense of intensity.
Every person’s body metabolizes substances differently. If your body processes chemicals slowly, your high may last longer than your peers’ highs.
Tolerance/Familiarity and Awareness
Your familiarity with cannabis and your body’s understanding of how to tolerate and adapt to the psychoactivity can affect how long a high lasts. As you become more accustomed to a cannabis high, you may sense that you stop feeling “high” after a shorter period of time, in spite of the cannabinoids that are still acting on your body. Conversely, mindfulness matters. If you’re in a place where you are reflecting on your high and checking in with yourself regularly, then you might “notice” it for longer.
Other factors for how long does a high last may include: age, height, weight, and general health, concurrent use of marijuana with other drugs and alcohol, personal expectations and/or previous experiences with or exposure to cannabis.
So how long does a high last?
For most people, a high will last about 2-3 hours if smoked and up to six hours if you eat it. A great resource for determining how long your high will last is the Highness Equation, which covers many of the factors listed above:
Length of High = ( (dose x concentration) / (metabolism x tolerance) ) x delivery method
Check out these approximate guidelines:
The Final Hit: How Long Does a High Last?
Everyone is different: get to know your endocannabinoid system (ECS) and how you react to cannabis. The only way to truly know how long a high lasts for you is to try it out a few times in a safe setting. Avoid driving, operating heavy machinery, and interactions with family or people that may stress you out or who may not be friendly to your experiments with cannabis.
Being self-aware of how long a high lasts and how it will affect you will allow you to responsibly use cannabis, whether you’re dabbing for the first time, discovering the wonders of live resin, or out and about at events like concerts. This awareness will even allow you to consume on your off hours without interfering with your day-to-day duties.