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Thursday August 13, 2020

By Erin Hiatt


After Colorado legalized cannabis for adult-use, The New York Times columnist Maureen Dowd went to the Centennial State to report on the end of cannabis prohibition. Wanting to partake of some legal goodies, Dowd bought a cannabis-infused candy bar at a dispensary, and later, had a few bites. After an hour of feeling nothing, she went for the gold and ate the whole bar. Eight hours of paranoia and anxiety later, she recounted her experience in a column titled, “Don’t Harsh Our Mellow, Dude.”

While Dowd made a rookie mistake that sent her into eight scary – yet totally avoidable – hours, her experience points to something crucial, especially for cannabis newcomers. If you consume at a moderate rate, how long can you expect to be high?

The Average Cannabis High Duration

On average, a cannabis high will last anywhere from two to 10 hours. As you can see, that’s a mighty wide gap, and here are some of the factors that could play a role:

Factors That Affect Your Cannabis High:

  • Potency, or how much THC is in the product you’re consuming
  • Intake methods, e.g. edible, dabbing, combustion, etc.
  • Your personal level of tolerance
  • Body weight and percentage of body fat
  • Metabolism
  • If you ate before your sesh

However, for most people, the number one factor that will dictate the length of your high is consumption method.

Different Consumption Methods

Dry herb vaporizers, vape carts, joints, and glass: These intake methods are very efficient and deliver a high in ten minutes or so. Depending on THC content, the high usually lasts from 1- 3 hours, though it could last as long as eight hours.

Man taking a dab
The consumption method has the number one influence on the duration of your high.

Dabbing: By definition, dabbing is the consumption of high potency cannabis concentrates, intended to make you very high very quickly. If you are experienced with this intake method, your high will probably last anywhere from 30 minutes to three hours. But if you are new to dabbing, this method could keep you high all day (and/or night).

Edibles: Though edible labeling has come a long way since Ms. Dowd’s candy bar debacle in 2014, edible highs are the least predictable and the length of time spent high can really vary. Because edibles make their way first to the digestive system, it may take anywhere from 30 minutes to three hours to feel any effects. Generally, an edible high lasts 1-3 hours, but you could be high for as many as nine hours. When consuming edibles it’s really important to follow the cannabis golden rule, start low, and go slow, even if you are an experienced consumer new to edibles, but especially if you are a cannabis newcomer.

How to Avoid Getting Too High

If you’ve gone a little overboard and want to bring your high down to a shorter time or more manageable level, there are a few insider tips cannabis consumers use to calm things down. But please keep in mind, these are anecdotal and may or may not work for you.

pine nuts
Eating pine nuts can help to calm your high. photo credit

Eat some black pepper, lemon peel, or pine nuts. These common household items are also found in cannabis strains in the form of terpenes – aromatic compounds that give cannabis and other plants their signature smell. Though research on terpenes and cannabis is nascent, some reports suggest that terpenes like those found in black pepper (caryophyllene), lemon peel (limonene), and pine nuts (pinene) may provide a calming effect and could ease you out of your high a little quicker.

When feeling too high, try some CBD. This non-intoxicating cannabinoid known for its anti-anxiety effects may help to modulate the high from THC. A few drops of CBD tincture under the tongue should do the trick. Some other tried and true methods that could bring you down are taking a cold shower, taking a nap, and getting hydrated. But the best way to not get too high is to mindfully consume, especially if work or other obligations lie ahead.

How long does a cannabis high last for you? Share your thoughts and experiences in the comments below.

Photo Credit: (license)


Erin Hiatt Erin Hiatt

Erin Hiatt is a New York City-based writer who has been covering the cannabis industry for more than six years. Her work - which has appeared in Hemp Connoisseur Magazine, PotGuide, Civilized, Vice, Freedom Leaf, MERRY JANE, Alternet, and CannaInvestor - covers a broad range of topics, including cannabis policy and law, CBD, hemp law and applications, science and technology, beauty, and psychedelics.

Erin's work and industry insights have been featured on the podcasts The Let's Go Eat Show, In the Know 420, and she has appeared as a featured panelist on the topic of hemp media. Erin has interviewed top industry experts such as Dr. Carl Hart, Ethan Nadelmann, Amanda Feilding, Mark A.R. Kleiman, Dr. James Fadiman, and culture icons Governor Jesse Ventura, and author Tom Robbins. You can follow her work on LinkedInWordpress, @erinhiatt on Twitter, and @erinisred on Instagram.

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