Cannabis Myths: Does Holding In Hits Get You Higher? - International Highlife

Cannabis Myths: Does Holding In Hits Get You Higher?

There is a widespread myth out there, which states that the longer you hold in a hit from a joint, the higher you will get. But there’s another piece of cannabis community wisdom that’s been doing the rounds for almost as long – that all the THC and other cannabinoids get absorbed almost instantly, and there’s no need to hold in a hit.

So who’s right? Let’s take a look at what we know. There is a study from 1989 conducted by researchers at the University of Chicago, which states that:

“Subjects were exposed to each of three breath-hold duration conditions (0, 10 and 20 sec)… but there was little evidence that response to marijuana was a function of breathhold duration.”

And then there’s this 1991 study from the University of Chicago, which states:

“Significantly more CO was absorbed from both P and M smoke after 20 s of breath-holding… Effects of marijuana on mood were not consistently affected by breath-hold duration. The results confirm previous findings that prolonged breath-holding does not substantially enhance the effects of inhaled marijuana smoke.”

So, according to these studies, holding it in for longer doesn’t increase the “high”, although it does increase the amount of carbon monoxide that enters the bloodstream!

Of course, that’s just a couple of studies, and there don’t seem to be many more out there to back up or contradict the findings. So it’s not much of a consensus, but it’s pretty much all we have to go on.

So, while you may have heard plenty of people tell you that holding in a hit makes you higher, but unless there’s some evidence to show that it’s actually an increased high from greater absorption of cannabinoids, then doubt remains.

Holding in Smoke May Make You Sicker, not Higher

For one thing, the feeling of oxygen deprivation can certainly cause similar feelings to being high, and if you hold in that hit for long enough, it could certainly start to have an effect. On top of that, if you smoke joints with tobacco, the “enhanced high” could be related to the light-headed feeling tobacco can sometimes produce.

Even without tobacco, we’re talking about smoking (combustion) of cannabis, which produces tar and many chemicals such as benzene and naphthalene.

Smoking Vs. Vaping: Absorption of THC

On the other hand, a more recent study from the University of Leiden in the Netherlands, conducted by renowned cannabis researcher Arno Hazekamp, has got certain stoner circles talking. This study was not on joint smoking but on vaping, using a classic Volcano vaporizer made by German company Storz & Bickel.

According to this study, people that used the Volcano vaporizer exhaled a pretty significant percentage of inhaled THC – in fact, 35% on average! The study instructed participants to hold their breath for 10 seconds. It would be interesting to repeat the study with different “holding” times to see if it altered the amount of THC being exhaled, as that could help answer the question.

By the way, although we’re not die-hard Vaporizer fanatics, we can’t help but see how the evidence is stacking up for replacing smoking with vaping. This quote here, from the Leiden University study, has got us thinking…

“Using cannabis plant material as the sample, vapors were found to consist overwhelmingly of cannabinoids, while the combusted control contained over one hundred additional chemicals, including several known PAHs.”

Vapor from a vaporizer is NOTHING but cannabinoids, whereas smoked cannabis contains a hundred extra chemicals that aren’t cannabinoids (which could be harmful). So with that in mind, would you want to hold in combusted smoke from a joint for a long time?

As we mentioned before, it’s not like there is a firm consensus on these questions, and future research may change our understanding in various ways. But it’s always best to try and get the maximum benefit from your herb, whether you’re using it recreationally or medicinally.

For me, that means taking shorter, quicker puffs when smoking cannabis and longer, deeper, more leisurely puffs when I’m vaping. In the end, I find it to be not just the most effective and safe way to do things, but actually the most enjoyable!


Your view may be different – let us know if you still think holding in hits gets you higher in the comment section below!

13 responses to “Cannabis Myths: Does Holding In Hits Get You Higher?”

  1. Ted Payne says:

    I am curious to see a scientific analysis of this in a controlled setting with blood test results after. Some verification process to avoid false information from the placebo effect.

  2. Alex says:

    I am a regular user of the Airizer, and have found it to be the most enjoyable source for my recreational use. Not only is it impressively less harmful to inhale but has constantly proven to be the most successful in achieving the longest duration in effects. I very much enjoy introducing my friends to the idea of smoking their bud less and vaping be there best option. In my opinion, I get to my destination quicker, higher and last much longer when vaping. Also, it requires MUCH LESS product then any other source including bowls. A one hitter amount will suffice for your vap and will be much more effective.

    • Steve says:

      I agree. I can usually get a couple of hits from my Puri 5 . Which equals about a quarter of a joint. Less waste with more taste . Obtw I’ll be 69 next month !

  3. Mark Harris says:

    I met a girl who had rarely taken a hit. She got high from having her old man, blow HIS hit in her kings.

  4. Tukker says:

    SMOKING weed now for over 32 year and i have to say this.
    With the lower grates weed (northernlight etc) it doesn’t really matter how long you keep it in but if you smoke some of the stronger haze strains it def makes you way more stoned. Also i have to add that while sitting down you will get less into your lungs while standing up will make you able to inhale more. Also smoking while keeping a hit in for 20 seconds and walking at the same time makes you tremendously more stoned and faster then while sitting and smoking.l

  5. Chris Greenhough says:

    As a 10 year vilcano user i try to hold until no vapour comes back yp. Tajes a time to learn ro balance intake with tume otherwise you start getting light headed but if i get rhe whole balloon down with mininal exhaust as quickly as possible i get way more effect than casually huffing from the balloon and exhaling more vapour.
    I know this is obviously a subjective post and may not be the same for others so the need to trial different holding times is there imo.
    If it does get a stronger effect holding vapour longer, that could save patients money getting better use from their med knowing that.

  6. Becky R Grant says:

    I totally disagree with the study. I use both for medicinal purposes and I find the longer I hold it in 30 sec to a minute, the higher and the longer the high last. I use less and it last me longer. If I want a lighter buzz than I hold it in 10 secs. I definitely feel a drastic difference on the breath hold time. I also feel a drastic difference in pain relief the longer I hold it in as well. This came from experimenting and not from somebody telling me this. If I hold it in for 10 seconds or less and my pain level is a 10 from Fibromyalgia on my nerves, than it brings my pain to a 7 or 8 and if I hold it in for 30sec to a minute, than my pain level goes down between 0-2. I respect studies, however, if you have chronic pain, the studies aren’t scrutinized enough on the time frames and therefore aren’t accurate in my experience.

  7. Patrick says:

    So I think that someone who didn’t like weed once said that it’s absorbed Istantly knowing it’s not, causeing people to say it is, causing people to believe it. And the high I get from holding my breath longer is much more powerful and longer lasting, and don’t you tell me it’s because of oxygen deprivation, because if I normally hold my breath for 3 minutes straight, and I’ve don’t this, I do get light headed, but it only lasts for about 2-3 seconds after I start breathing again, meaning I even has returned.

  8. Penny Webb says:

    I disagree cuz if I got a head rush holding my breath under water the way I do smoking I’d drown. I watch people smoke and immediately exhale and after finishing a joint light another one, while I hold my smoke in and I am stand and have no need to fire up a second joint

  9. Christy says:

    I’m just going to say that this read my mind but I was too lazy to look it up and boom! Thank you

  10. Smoking: flower, paper and fire. Vaping: batteries, metal, plastic, solvents. Nobody gets cancer from smoking joints. Very different than tobacco smoking. Every medical state allows smoking your meds. #everybodyrolleasy

    This article seems to indicate the opposite of the truth regarding holding in your hits. It is of interest that exhaling the vapor is inefficient. No surprise. Vaping was developed as a cessation device for nicotine addicts. Never intended for recreational or prolonged use. Not meant for enjoyment of nicotine. No entourage effect. Does not compare to smoking a joint. Vaping has addicted countless teenagers and middle school kids to nicotine in The US in the past three years.

  11. Rob says:

    Iv been smoking pot over 50 years . I can say holding in a hit is a much better way of getting a stronger high you can take just one good hit and hold it and that all you need for a while. Or you need to take or smoke a joint if you exhale right after a hit .
    Just do your own resurch ✌🏼🤟🏼

  12. Michelle says:

    You obviously don’t know what a Volcano is. Please read up then delete your comment.

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