Patients should always know two pieces of information before they use a product. First, will they get high from it? Second (and just as importantly), how long does a high last? In this post, we’ll endeavor to answer that question with science!
How Long Does a High Last? Onset Times, Peak Effects, and Duration
Cannabis Onset Time
Although this may seem like a simple topic, there’s actually a lot to understand regarding cannabis onset time. Several factors can affect how quickly you get high. But the most significant one is your consumption method.
Smoking or vaping cannabis provide the fastest ways to get high. When you inhale cannabis smoke or vapor, it passes directly from your lungs into your bloodstream. Research shows that a cannabis user can start feeling high in as little as 3 minutes. THC reaches its maximum blood concentration 8 minutes after inhalation, and within 10 minutes, you’ll definitely be feeling lifted.
Orally-consumed cannabis works a little differently, though. Instead of passing through your lungs, THC makes its way to your liver. There, your liver converts it into a new molecule. This new molecule, called 11-hydroxy-THC, differs slightly from normal THC. One of the biggest differences is its change in onset time, sometimes reaching up to an hour.
There are two main reasons for this. First, it can pass through the blood-brain barrier. It also has a higher bioavailability than inhaled THC does. Both of these traits play a part in 11-hydroxy-THC’s longer onset.
How Long Does a High Last?
A cannabis “high” can be somewhat subjective and vary from person to person. But scientists have still developed ways to determine how long a high can last.
In one study, researchers examined how much THC exists in a consumer’s bloodstream after inhalation. They also measured levels of another molecule, THC-COOH within a user’s bloodstream. Your body metabolizes THC into THC-COOH over time, and by measuring these levels, researchers can get a general idea of how long cannabis affects you.
Researchers discovered that, on average, THC levels peaked about 20-30 minutes after inhalation. That means you’ll feel the most high about half an hour after smoking.
In contrast, THC-COOH levels peaked 113 minutes after consumption. In other words, highs last for about 2 hours. This is by no means an absolute number. After all, factors like tolerance, weight, and more can affect how long a high lasts. But this data is a useful guideline.
As always, edibles work a little differently. Another study suggests that highs from cannabis edibles can last up to 4 hours. This difference again traces its origins back to 11-hydroxy-THC’s differences from inhaled THC.
How Long Does a High Last for You? Find Out Firsthand
Although all the information we covered in this post is useful, it can’t tell you exactly how long a high will last for you personally. As we mentioned earlier, variables like your height, weight, tolerance, and whether you ate can all affect how long you stay high.
That’s why the only real way to discover THC’s duration is to try it yourself! Stop by our Brandywine cannabis dispensary and pick up some premium cannabis for yourself. You know, for science!