One question that comes up constantly in the cannabis world is, how long will you stay high? Whether you’re experienced with one form of weed and want to know how trying a new method will impact you, or if you’re completely new to herb, this is a question that is bound to come up. Until recently, the only real resource we had was the budtender or people from your social circle who can make an estimate. Although, now we can finally turn to science for a more precise estimate of how long different formats of cannabis impact the body.
As it turns out, a cannabis high can come on anywhere within a few minutes to a few hours, and the high can last anywhere from three to ten hours. The latest and greatest news came from a 2021 study published in Neuroscience & Biobehavioral Reviews, led by Danielle McCartney of the University of Sydney. Identified a “window of impairment” that lasts anywhere from three to ten hours, depending on the THC dose, the mode of ingestion, and the consumer’s previous cannabis experience. Results vary based on dosage levels and ingestion method, but the sweet spot is 20mg of THC. This is the dose that keeps most people high for four to five hours.
McCartney and her colleagues conducted a comprehensive analysis of 80 scientific studies on cannabis dosage and intoxication, and focused on answering the question of the effect of cannabis intoxication on driving skills and awareness. They found that most of the effects of cannabis wore off within about five hours of inhaling 20 mg of THC, but only if they ingested by smoking. If their subjects consumed the same amount of THC via an edible, it took much longer to recover their driving skills, even though cannabis edibles are typically dosed at 10mg per serving. Edibles and drinkables were found to have a much longer effect than combustible cannabis, lasting up to twice as long as cannabis that was inhaled. Those researchers found that smoking or vaping 20mg of THC diminished a driver’s reaction time for roughly four hours. However, ingesting 20mg of THC via an edible or beverage diminished reaction time for eight hours, or even up to 10 hours.
One factor that makes a difference in addition to ingestion methods, is frequency. Regular use can result in the body and mind building up a tolerance for cannabinoids, and the study found that impairment was much more predictable in occasional cannabis users than those who smoked all the time. This makes me think back to DARE classes and how they always mentioned that if you smoked weed you could.. Build up a tolerance. That’s not something I think is a bad thing, although the downside to it is that you could potentially end up not feeling the effects of your preferred method.
I have to say, the results of this study make it much more clear why I was on my ass for 24 hours after vaping way too much weed at a graduation party. These days I regularly enjoy quality shit from Select, but at another time in my life I tried a new method that left me impaired for the rest of the weekend, and it felt like it would never end. I ordered three times from my favorite takeout place and drank a gallon of water before I felt better. I stayed in bed all weekend and didn’t feel fully back to normal until the day after recovery. During my infamous “lost weekend”, it was my first time vaping. Not going to lie, It took a long time for me to do it again, but these days I know how to pace myself. My biggest takeaway from this study is to pace yourself when trying something new and not to overdo it. Use normal precautions before going out to drive, i.e., order food, or don’t get intoxicated then drive. The question may?have been answered in general, but we all react differently, so be easy and learn your body to manage your highs. ?