Have you decided to try marijuana for your condition but don't know what to expect? Perhaps friends have recommended medicinal cannabis, or recreational marijuana is now legal in your state. Either way, if you've never used cannabis before, the first thing you probably want to know is, "how long does a weed high last?"
Usually, a weed high lasts from 30 minutes to 90 minutes when smoked and between 90 minutes to 3 hours when eaten. It can also last much longer with higher doses -- especially edible doses. A marijuana high can even last as long as 12 hours in some cases.
Of course, this is a very unhelpful range when trying to plan your first experience, but there are many physiological and biological factors that can influence the length of your high. So, let's take a closer look at details to help narrow this range down for you.
The total length of time it takes the THC to go from the package into your brain can vary dramatically depending on several factors. One of which is the specific way you consume it. Let's take a closer look at the most popular ways people consume marijuana and how they each differ in how quickly it takes to feel the effects:
Smoking or Vaping
Smoking or vaping cannabis is one of the fastest ways to feel high. The onset of the psychoactive effects occurs within 5 to 10 minutes after smoking. This is because smoke or vapor allows the THC to be directly absorbed by your lungs. From there, it passes effortlessly into your bloodstream before traveling to your brain.
Dabbing marijuana extracts can also produce a rapid onset of a high -- often nearly instant. Dabbing involves smoking a THC concentrate or extract through a dab rig. Technically, you're vaporizing the THC extract on the 'nail' of the rig as you breathe the vapor into your lungs.
Like smoking, this vapor is then absorbed by your lung tissues and into your bloodstream. Since 'dabs,' or THC concentrates, are significantly more potent than marijuana flower, you can usually feel the effects within seconds. This is why dabs are so popular for pain relief.
Edibles, Pills, and Capsules
The time it takes for marijuana edibles, pills, or capsules to kick in has the most dramatic range of any consumption method. Many physiological influences may lengthen the time it takes to feel the effects. How much of that THC actually gets metabolized and how fast it kicks in depends on:
Generally speaking, most edibles take between 30 minutes to 2 hours for their effects to become felt, but it's not uncommon for them to take 3 or 4 hours to kick in. This can cause inexperienced edible users to think they didn't take enough. So, they take more, and when the high finally does kick in, it's way too strong. Therefore, patience is critical when using edible marijuana. The motto is "start low and go slow." WAIT for that first dose to kick in.
Marijuana tinctures are slightly different. While technically an edible method of consumption, their effects are usually felt faster. To correctly use a tincture, it should be placed under the tongue. Theoretically, when the mucosa lining absorbs these drops under your tongue, the cannabinoids directly enter the bloodstream.
It takes as little as 15 minutes before you start feeling the effects of a tincture, but it can also still take a few hours if taken improperly, especially if you didn't hold it under the tongue long enough to absorb much through your membranes. Generally speaking, THC is not often used in this way, although many THC tinctures exist. Tinctures are significantly more popular for CBD use, but the physiological processes are the same.
Now that we've looked more closely at the onset time of each, we can cover how the duration of the weed high differs depending on these same methods.
Because THC rapidly absorbs into the bloodstream via smoke or vapor, the high does not last that long. Typically, the effects of smoking or vaping marijuana will fade in 1 - 3 hours. The peak of your weed high may only last as little as 30 minutes, after which they will decrease steadily.
The same can be said of dabbing THC. The high will only last approximately 1 - 3 hours, as is the case of smoking it. However, it is much easier to take significantly larger doses of THC when dabbing, much more so than is practical to smoke, and this can increase the length of the high. If you dab an enormous dose, for example, the high may last an additional few hours.
Edibles, pills, and capsules, on the other hand, are a much different story. Before the THC in edible cannabis can be absorbed by the bloodstream and felt by the user, the edibles first must be metabolized and processed by the liver. Depending on the speed of your metabolism, how much you had to eat before, how much you weigh, etc, the time it takes to do so can vary. That's why the high from edibles, pills, and capsules could last anywhere from 2 - 10 hours.
Not only that, but when processed by the liver, THC's effects are different from that of smoking or vaping. Once metabolized, the THC is released as Delta-9 THC (the same form when smoked) and the stronger compound 11-OH-THC. 11-OH-THC is a much more potent form of the psychoactive chemical, which results in a long-lasting, intense body high. Therefore, before we can answer how long an edible high lasts we'll need to provide further explanation. You'll learn the in-depth details as well as what an edible high feels like at the link.
Tinctures are absorbed very quickly by the membranes in your tongue and mouth, but much of the THC is still absorbed in the same way that edibles are absorbed. You'll feel the effects of both THC-delta-9 and 11-OH-THC (hopefully). So, the high from sublingual tinctures is somewhere between smoking and edibles and can last as long as an edible high depending on dose -- up to several hours.
Unfortunately, it is impossible to provide a perfect range for how long a cannabis high will last. There are dozens of different influences that can affect the duration of the psychoactive effects. These include:
The reason we humans feel any psychoactive effects at all is that THC (and other cannabinoids) can bind to the cannabinoid receptors found in our bodies. Everyone has different amounts of cannabinoid receptors that vary with both our genetics and frequency of use. So, the effects of marijuana will vary from person to person, even when using the same method and dose.
Ultimately, if you're still inexperienced with marijuana use, you should start small. Go low and slow. Take as little as 5 mg or less and wait. Again, everyone is different, and you'll need to discover for yourself how cannabis makes you feel and for how long. So long as you do so responsibly, this should be an easy and enjoyable experience!
As always, it's best to talk to your doctor if you have questions about possible interactions, what ingestion method is best for you, or how long a marijuana high lasts. NuggMD's state-licensed practitioners are always happy to help. NuggMD is available from 8 AM till 10 PM daily, including weekends, and no appointment is necessary.