by Deb Powers
How long does a high last? The length of the effects you’ll experience with cannabis is affected by factors ranging from the chemical composition of the product to what you ate last. Knowing how long you’ll be “under the influence” can help you plan for an enjoyable experience, so let’s take a look at the factors that can help you enhance your experience and enjoy your bliss as long as possible.
Factors That Affect the Length of a Cannabis Experience
What you feel when you consume cannabis results from a physiological chemical interaction in your body. If you know anything about chemistry, you know that you can control reactions by altering various factors in an experiment. If you want to get a sense of how long your high will last — so that you can, for example, block out free time in your schedule for a de-stressing sesh — these are the factors you’ll want to consider.
Keep in mind that hard research on anything having to do with cannabis is still limited, so a lot of the info relies on anecdotal evidence, but as more states and countries lift restrictions on cannabis research, we look forward to getting more definitive answers to these questions.
The Strain of Cannabis
Different strains of cannabis, including Indica and Sativa, produce different experiences. This is partly due to the amount of THC in the strain, but there are also other factors at play — different phytochemicals have different effects on your body. While YMMV applies to all things cannabis (see factors below to understand why), most growers have collected enough information to give you a sense of which effects you’ll experience when you ingest different strains, so check their notes when making your choices.
The Concentration of THC
The amount of THC you consume is a significant factor in how high you get and how long your experience will last. While it’s not a linear progression, in general, the more THC you consume, the more effect you’ll feel, and the longer you stay high.
The length of your high is largely determined by how long it takes your body to metabolize the THC in your system. People with a fast metabolism — that would be your friend who can eat anything and stay slim — get high quicker, and come down sooner, in general. If your metabolism is slower, it takes longer for your body to disperse those lovely chemicals, so your high will probably last longer.
When (and What) You’ve Eaten
This is one of those areas where the research is lacking — there’s a lot more research done on whether cannabis can help you lose weight than on which foods will enhance your experience, for example — but there is a lot of anecdotal evidence about the effects of different kinds of food on how high you get and how long you stay that way. These are a few of the foods that may extend your high:
- Mangos contain a chemical, myrcene, that lowers the resistance of the blood-brain barrier, leading to faster onset, higher intensity, and longer-lasting psychoactive effects
- Omega-3 rich foods may help increase and extend your bliss and relaxation. Interestingly, Omega -3 fatty acids seem to bind to cannabinoid receptors, so have a handful of nuts or some sweet potato fries.
- Broccoli is high in beta-caryophyllene, which binds to CB2 receptors and helps you relax more fully into your experience.
Your tolerance for cannabis also makes a difference in how your body experiences THC. Most evidence points to your tolerance increasing with use. The more often you indulge, the more predictable your experience will be. In general, frequent consumers find that the effects wear off a bit sooner. Pro tip: taking a little break can reduce your tolerance and refresh your experience again.
How You Consume It
Your method of consuming cannabis makes a difference in not only how long your high will last but how quickly you’ll feel the effects. Generally, edibles take the longest to kick in because the THC has to go through your stomach to get to your bloodstream. The effects also last longer because you’re essentially getting a slow drip of THC as your stomach digests the edible.
By contrast, inhaled methods, such as smoking and vaping, give you an almost immediate onset, but don’t last quite as long. In addition, inhaling makes it easier to control your dosing — since the onset is almost instantaneous, it’s easier to supplement when the high starts to dim too soon.
How Long Does A High Last?
In general, a cannabis high lasts from 1 to 10 hours, depending on the factors above. Since one of the most important factors is the potency of the product — that is, the percentage of THC in the product — you can start your calculations from there and figure in the above factors to help you figure out what will work best for you.
The bottom line is that everyone’s experience is different, but there are some predictable elements. Starting with a high-quality product lets you control some of those factors. Our vape pens, which always start with a high-quality flower and are carefully curated to preserve the perfect proportions of THC, CBD, and terpenoids, help deliver a consistent effect, time after time. Keeping a journal can help you track your own experience and make it easier for you to predict how long you’ll get to enjoy your indulgence. The longer you use cannabis, the better you’ll be able to figure out what works best for you.