How Long Do the Effects of Marijuana Last?
One of the most common questions that those new to medical marijuana will ask is, “How long will I be high?”
Knowing what to expect beforehand sets you up for a positive experience and allows you to plan your day, ensuring that you aren’t feeling out of it when at work or driving. Plus, understanding how long it takes for cannabis to wear off can help you get through an uncomfortable high if you ever accidentally take too much.
But keep in mind that every person has an individualized experience with cannabis, meaning that you might find its effects shorter or longer-lived than the average person.
The Average Marijuana “High”
There is no single answer to the question of how long weed lasts.
Instead, there are general guidelines that you can take with you as you work towards finding the right product and dosage for you.
When it comes to making an educated guess at how long you’ll be high, there are two main factors to consider: delivery method and dose.
Let’s start with the delivery method. There are two primary ways to use medical marijuana—you either inhale it or you eat it. As a general rule:
Inhaled cannabis lasts between 1 and 3 hours
Edible cannabis lasts between 4 and 8 hours
But many factors can result in a shorter, or longer, high. Let’s dig into each of these delivery systems in greater detail to help you determine what to expect.
The Effects of Smoking or Vaping Marijuana
The most popular way of consuming medical cannabis is to inhale it. Dried flower is the typical form, but you can also find concentrates like wax, shatter, or resin, or distillates in vape pen cartridges.
Each of these consumption methods involves inhaling cannabis, following which THC is delivered to the lungs. Thanks to this similarity, you will feel high for roughly the same amount of time given an equal dose of THC.
When you smoke cannabis in any form, you’ll usually feel peak effects around 30 to 60 minutes post-consumption. The high will then last for around an hour, slowly tapering afterward. After 3 hours, many people will no longer feel any cognitive effects.
But there is a caveat here. How much THC you consume matters; if you inhale a lot of THC, you could feel high for longer.
Concentrates are incredibly potent. In comparison to dried flower, which tends to have around 8-35% THC, these products can have up to 90% THC. Additionally, dab rigs used to smoke concentrates don’t allow for accurate dosing. As a result, most people who use these products consume much more THC than they would smoking flower.
And the more THC you smoke, the longer your high is going to last. For people who are not regular cannabis connoisseurs, a hit on a dab rig can be an intense experience. While the height of the high will only last around 2-3 hours, lingering effects may be felt throughout the day.
Vape pens tend to fall on the spectrum between dried flower and concentrates. While they typically boast high concentrations of THC, they usually deliver small, precise hits. This straightforward dosing allows patients to more easily control a vape high than one that comes from a concentrate. As long as you are careful to take small hits from a vape pen, your high should taper off after a couple of hours.
The Effects of Consuming Marijuana Edibles
In comparison to smoked cannabis, ingested cannabis lasts longer and feels more intense. This is true whether you take a THC capsule, eat a gummy, or use a tincture.
With medical marijuana edible products, you can expect intoxicating effects to kick in after around 30 minutes to two hours and last approximately 4 to 8 hours. Typically, the high will feel the most intense for the first two hours and mellow after that. Because the effects of oral marijuana products are stronger, it's important to get the proper dosage when taking edibles to ensure you have a positive experience.
Why are edibles so strong and long-lasting? It’s because the THC within is converted into an even more powerful THC-derivative. And if you accidentally consume too much, you can feel the after-effects for a full day (but rest assured, these after-effects tend to be pretty minimal).
Tinctures, which are cannabis products made to be taken sublingually (under your tongue), are designed to bypass digestion. However, it’s virtually impossible to have all of the THC in your tincture absorb sublingually, and whatever you swallow will be converted into a stronger and longer-lasting THC. A tincture is more likely to kick in within 15 to 60 minutes, but the effects can still last 4 to 8 hours.
Factors That Can Affect Your Marijuana High
You’ve probably noticed the wide windows discussed above. There are factors outside of the delivery method that will determine how long cannabis lasts.
We’ve already briefly discussed the first, which is the quantity of THC that you take. The higher the concentration of THC found within, and the greater the dose that you take, the longer your high will last.
But these are not the only factors. Underlying biological differences like weight, age, sex, and metabolism can influence marijuana’s effects. How often you consume cannabis also has an impact. Even how much you’ve eaten can alter how cannabis feels if you eat it.
Because of these differences, every person will have a different experience when they use cannabis. The same dosage can lead to one person experiencing a long-lasting, intense high, and another feeling mellow effects that don’t last too long.
There is only one thing you can do to determine how cannabis will affect you: try it for yourself. The best way to do this is to start low and go slow. Meaning, start with a very small dose and only increase it once you have waited long enough to feel its maximum effects (around 1 hour if you smoke it and 2 hours if you eat it).
Talk to your doctor or local dispensary experts if you aren’t sure how much of a new product to take. They can help walk you through the process, helping you to enjoy the experience.
And if you accidentally take too much, do your best to sit back and relax. The high will pass with time, and you won’t overdose on weed like you can on things like alcohol or painkillers.
Some tips to help cope with an uncomfortable high? Some people find that taking a CBD-only product can help as CBD has been shown to counteract some of THC’s side effects. Slow, deep breathing can calm your nervous system, allowing you to feel more relaxed and collected. And a nap or cold shower may be just what you need to either embrace your high or work to wake yourself up, respectively.
How Can I Get My Arkansas Medical Marijuana Card?
Arkansas Marijuana Card understands that the medical marijuana laws in Arkansas can be confusing, so we take all of the guesswork out of it for our patients. Our friendly support staff will carefully walk you through the entire process, from helping you collect your medical records before your appointment, to ensuring your application has been submitted properly to the State. Also, we have the most affordable pricing options anywhere in the state of Arkansas!