Whether you’re new to using cannabis or you’re a seasoned smoker, you may be wondering about how long a high lasts. The high refers to the euphoric, mind-altering effects caused by THC. Before you get started, it can be useful to know what to expect when eating, smoking, or vaping cannabis.
Metabolism is the body’s process of breaking down THC. This process takes place at different rates in different people. As with many different drugs, some people may naturally break down THC faster than others, which would cause their high to be relatively shorter.
Tolerance and Awareness
Someone who is inexperienced will tend to be more aware of the effects of THC. Also, frequent cannabis users may have a tolerance, meaning their bodies have adapted to the THC such that they are less sensitive to it.
Compounds like CBD can temper with the THC high, reducing its effects and making it somewhat less intense. The many terpenes and cannabinoids in a strain of cannabis contribute to what is called the entourage effect, where the compounds alter the effects of one another, modifying the overall effect.
When a person smokes a bowl, eats an edible, or takes a dab, they are committing to being high for a certain period of time, generally for at least 1-2 hours. While many factors contribute to how long and intense each high is, there are some general rules of thumb that can help guide your decisions. The length of your high can be understood as the product of the dose and concentration, your metabolism and tolerance, and the method of administration.
For example, a high dose, low tolerance, and a stronger method of administration such as dabbing would result in a strong, longer-lasting high. Alternatively, a low dose, high tolerance or quick metabolism, and a milder method of administration such as smoking would result in a weaker and shorter high.
If you are wondering how long a high lasts, how long edibles last, or how to compare the different methods of consumption, this should help clear things up.
Method of Consumption
Time to Full Onset
Length of High
Dried flower: smoking & vaping
1-2 hours, with lingering effects for up to 4 hours
3-4 hours, with lingering effects for up to 8 hours
Seconds to minutes
1-3 hours, with lingering effects for up to a day
If you are thinking of trying cannabis for the first time, it is a good idea to have a plan. There are many things you can do to ensure a fun, pleasant experience. Here are some of our best tips for first-time cannabis users.
Start low and go slow. The golden rule when consuming cannabis is to start at a low dose and only increase it slowly. If you’re smoking a joint, try just taking one puff first and see how that feels. You can always have more, but you can’t unsmoke something you have already smoked.
Try an inhalation method first – not edibles.Edible cannabis is known to be more intense and harder to dose. Because of how long edibles last, they are not usually recommended for new users. It also takes quite a while to feel the effects, and some newbies make the mistake of eating more before the first dose hits them.
Make sure you are in a safe environment. Try cannabis with a trusted friend or group of friends, in familiar surroundings. This can help lessen any anxiety or discomfort that may occur.
Be aware of your own mental health. If you are feeling depressed, anxious, or paranoid, it may not be a good day to try cannabis.
Last Toke of Advice
Overall, you can expect a cannabis high to last 1-2 hours, with some lingering after-effects for up to 4 hours. Remember that for edibles, the high can take up to 2 hours to come on and can last 3-4 hours, with lingering effects for up to 8 hours.
With the right planning and understanding, you can avoid an unpleasant experience by managing the many factors that contribute to how long a high lasts. Factors such as route of administration, quantity, tolerance, metabolism, setting, and strain are all important. When anything in your cannabis routine changes, like a new strain, a new environment, or a new vaporizer, a good rule of thumb is to always start low and go slow.