We’ve all been there. We’ve all smoked a little too much weed, and have started second-guessing our decision to get high. Maybe you’ve got a job to go to, or your mother’s coming home soon. Perhaps you are starting to green out, and want to know when it will all be over. Just how long does a weed high last?
If you are feeling a little uncomfortable, a little paranoid, first, take a deep breath. This experience will not last forever, and the most intense period will wrap up within two to three hours. You can hang on for that long. Reminder, nobody has ever died from smoking too much weed, and neither will you. You might not be having a great time, but in the grand scheme of things, it will only be a short time until its over.
On the other hand, what do you do if you have a big event coming up, one which you simply cannot be baked at? That is a different story altogether, because you don’t have time to ride out the green wave and let it mellow out. You’ve got to get sober as quickly as possible.
Before you can figure out how long does a weed high last for, you’ve got to understand the basic scientific facts. Even if you and your best friend smoked the same joint, you’d likely have two very different experiences. There are many influencing factors throughout the experience, from what you ate for breakfast right down to your genetics.
What is Going On When You Smoke Weed?
Why do you get high from smoking, vaping, or eating weed? In the most basic of terms, it’s an interaction between the compounds found in the plant with your body. Cannabis contains hundreds of chemical compounds, including substances called cannabinoids and terpenes, which all interact with the human body in unique ways.
If you smoke weed and feel high, you are feeling the effects of the most prominent and well-known cannabinoid – THC. This compound exists only in cannabis (unlike CBD) and is the only compound that triggers the psychoactive experience. There are many other chemicals found in weed, some of which have medical benefits, but only THC is going to get you high. It’s the only cannabinoid we’ll focus on, for simplicities sake.
When inhaled or ingested, THC enters into your bloodstream and makes its way to your brain. Your brain contains a hotbed of cannabinoid receptors, which are a part of the network of receptors in the endocannabinoid system. Nobody talked about this system before cannabis, but it is responsible for regulating a host of activities in your body, including the immune system, memory, appetite, mood, and pain.
When THC floods the brain, the molecule finds a cannabinoid receptor called the CB1 receptor. The THC molecule fits into the CB1 receptor like a hand into a glove or a key into a lock. It’s this connection which leads to the high. How long does a weed high last? As long as this connection stays strong.
As this connection dissolves, the THC is metabolized by your liver into less-psychoactive compounds – THC-COOH to name one. Even though you aren’t high, this molecule hides in your fat cells and is detectable by a urine, blood, or hair test.
What Affects the Duration and Strength of a High?
Getting back to the main point, how long will you be high for? The answer isn’t as straightforward as you might hope. The real response is, “It depends.”
It depends on so many variables that scientists still haven’t figured out an accurate way to measure cannabis intoxication for roadside stops. Different tests can explore how much THC or THC-COOH is in your system, but this isn’t an accurate representation of your intoxication or your sobriety. Unlike alcohol, there is no link between blood-THC levels and level of intoxication.
If you noticed we mentioned metabolites earlier, its part of the reason why everyone processes THC differently. If you have a fast metabolism, you will burn through your high much more quickly than someone who has a slow metabolism. The faster your body converts THC into THC-COOH, the quicker you’ll sober up.
Experience & Tolerance
The more you smoke weed, the higher your tolerance gets (usually). The longer you’ve been practicing, the better you get. There are, of course, other influences over experience and tolerance, but it does play a roll in the duration of your high.
It should go without saying that the higher the THC in your favorite weed product, the higher you’ll get. If you smoke dabs, dabble in concentrates, or prefer a strain with 30 percent THC, you’ll feel stoned for that much longer than a middle potency.
Hydration and Health
A healthy system processes chemical compounds, and flushes out toxins, much more quickly than an unhealthy one. If you eat fast food all the time, never leave the couch to exercise, and smoke a pack of cigarettes every day, its safe to say you’ll probably have trouble processing the THC promptly. Drink eight glasses of water every day, eat your fruits and veggies, and you’ll have a cleaner, speedier experience.
Did you know that the older you are, the more sensitive you are to THC? That’s why some people, who were massive stoners in their youth, can no longer handle it. Seniors are especially vulnerable to THC potency. If you are over the age of 30, you might want to start slow and go low as you play around with new higher potency products to avoid a rude awakening.
Method of Ingestion
How you choose to consume cannabis will affect how long the experience lasts. Vaping and smoking are typically quick and dirty. The high comes on fast, but also doesn’t stay for very long. If you’ve consumed an edible, you’ll have a much longer road ahead of you, as your digestive tract slowly processes the psychoactive molecule.
Other Drugs (Alcohol, Pharmaceuticals, etc.)
The very same enzyme in your liver processes many of the cannabinoids in marijuana as well as other more conventional drugs. If you are taking other drugs (for blood pressure, for mental health issues, or any number of other health issues) it might influence the length of your high. If your liver is busy digesting the chemicals of the pharmaceuticals, or even from alcohol, it won’t have time to process the THC in a short period of time.
How Long Does a Weed High Last?
Keeping all the above influences in mind, let’s try to answer the question, “How long does a weed high last?” Obviously, what we will state below is not going to be accurate for everyone, in every situation.
However, they should serve as a quick study on what to expect, and how long you’ve got left.
Smoked: 1 to 4 Hours
The high from smoking weed usually lasts between one to four hours, with the most intense period within the first two hours. Of course, if you smoke higher potency strains, you’ll have a much stronger experience, which may last for longer than usual.
Vaped: 1 to 4 Hours
Vaping is similar to smoking. The cannabinoids are inhaled through the respiratory tract and enter the bloodstream pretty quickly. You should stay baked for upwards of four hours, but not much longer.
Edibles: 4 to 8 Hours
Edibles are a much different experience. For some, they are always too intense. It takes a long time for your digestive tract to process and absorb THC, and the high might not kick in for an hour or two. After the feeling starts to set in, you could have upwards of eight hours ahead of you.
Topically: 0 Hours
Interestingly, topical cannabis lotions, salves, and creams never trigger a high. No matter how much you slather on, or what the potency is, the THC does not enter the bloodstream and will not trigger a high.
How Can You Get Sober Quickly?
There is no quick solution if you find yourself too high, or if you need to sober up ASAP. That said, stoners are resourceful when they need to be. Many people over the years have tried to sober up and had some successes. These suggestions might help snap you out of it, but keep in mind they are not guaranteed.
The only guaranteed method of sobering up is waiting it out.
Drink Lots of Water:
Drinking water will help boost your metabolism, and may distract you from the overwhelming experience.
Hit the Gym or Go for a Run:
Sweat it out! Getting your cardio on while high is another great distraction, but one which might also reduce the duration and potency of the experience.
Take a Cold Shower:
A cold shower will shock your system, and hopefully, mellow out the high. Again, it won’t scientifically do anything to the THC and CB1 receptor connection, but you might feel a bit better afterward.
Counteract it with CBD:
Cannabidiol (CBD) is the second most prominent cannabinoid in weed. When you smoke THC and CBD together, the CBD mutes the potency of a high. It reduces the length and strength of the experience.
Sleep it Off:
While sleeping won’t actually speed up the experience, it might make it more pleasant if you sleep through it. In a few hours, when you wake up, you could feel right as rain again.
How Can You Make a High Last Longer?
Not everyone wants to sober up. Some want to keep the good times rolling. If you are already high but are looking for ways to extend the experience, there are a few handy tricks to keep in mind for enhancing the high.
Combine with Healthy Fats
Ever wonder why cannabis is so often combined with oils, butters, and fats in edible products? THC is a fat-soluble compound. Your body is going to have a much easier time absorbing the THC when combined with a fatty substance, then without it.
Eat a Mango
We are not kidding when we suggest you up your tropical fruit intake to increase the intensity of your high. Mangos contain a terpene called myrcene, which is responsible for some of the fruity tropical aroma of the fruit. Myrcene is also often found in low levels in certain cannabis strains. When you eat a mango before or immediately after getting high, the myrcene opens up the bloodstream highway, blasting the THC straight to your brain.
Eat a Chocolate Bar
Not only does a delicious dark chocolate bar help satiate your munchies, but it’s also going to make you feel higher for longer. One of the reasons why dark chocolate is good for you is because it contains compounds which protect the bliss molecule, anandamide, from breaking down naturally in your brain.
The euphoric feeling from a cannabis high is primarily from a flood of anandamide, and eating a rich, dark, chocolate bar helps to extend this euphoria by protecting the molecules.
Smoke More Weed
An obvious choice but a real one. If you want to maintain your psychoactive and euphoric experience, just light up another blunt, roll out another dab, and take another hit.
If you are eating your way through an infused brownie, a word of caution is in order. Edibles take hours to come into full effect, which means before you eat another edible, wait at least two hours from your first session.
Even the most enthusiastic smokers will have, at some point, found themselves baked when they don’t want to be. If you find yourself wishing for sobriety as soon as possible, remember getting baked is a very short experience. At most, the intensity will last for two or three hours, and you’ll quickly settle into a more comfortable space.
If you don’t have time to wait it out, you can try going for a run, taking a cold shower, or one of the other suggestions from our list. Sometimes the high is mostly in your head, and you need something like a jolt of icy cold water to shock you out of it.