How long will you feel the effects of cannabis? Unfortunately, there’s no universal answer to this question. The effects of cannabis can last anywhere from 3 to 12 hours depending on your consumption method, THC dose, and individual body response. If you want to understand how long your cannabis effects might last, you need to learn how those three factors can affect your experience.
Method of Consumption
The amount of tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) you consume will certainly impact how long you feel effects. However, there’s another factor that can have an even bigger impact: your method of consumption. Edible cannabis products can last for twice as long as inhaled forms of cannabis.
Duration of Effects: Inhalation
Assuming you consume the same amount of THC, inhaling cannabis will produce a similar duration of effects, no matter if you’re smoking, dabbing, or vaping cannabis. According to a 2021 scientific review, the average time it takes to stop feeling the effects of 20 mg of inhaled THC is four hours. The same review found that lower inhaled doses lasted for around three hours.
Duration of Effects: Edibles
Cannabis edibles have a very different duration of effects compared to smoking cannabis. The aforementioned 2021 review found that the average time it takes to stop feeling the effects of a 20 mg edible is eight hours. This duration of effects is twice as long compared to inhaled forms of cannabis.
Why the Difference?
Edibles produce a longer duration of effects due to the way your body absorbs them.
When you inhale cannabis, your body absorbs cannabinoids through your lungs. From there, cannabinoids like THC pass into your bloodstream, allowing them to swiftly start interacting with the endocannabinoid receptors in your brain and body. The onset of effects after inhaling cannabis can be immediate or take a few minutes. These effects usually hit their peak around 10 minutes after inhalation, start fading within 1 to 3 hours, and end after 3 to 5 hours.
When you consume edible cannabis products, your body absorbs cannabinoids through your digestive system. Digestion is a gradual and fairly slow process. It takes around 6 to 8 hours for food to make its way through your stomach and small intestine. That’s why it takes significantly longer to feel the effects of an edible than it does to feel the effects of something you inhale. It can take anywhere from 30 minutes to two hours before you even feel the initial effects of an edible. At that onset point, your body still hasn’t finished digesting the edible. Cannabinoids will continue to enter your system for hours after you first eat an edible. The effects of an edible usually peak at around the 4 hour mark, when most of the edible has been digested, then start fading after 6 to 8 hours.
An important thing to understand about cannabis edibles is that they feel stronger due to the way your body metabolizes them. The cannabinoids in an edible are digested, then they go through your liver before they enter your bloodstream. When the liver metabolizes THC, it changes it into 11-hydroxy-THC, a highly active form of THC that’s excellent at passing through the blood-brain barrier. As a result, the THC you eat in a marijuana brownie or gummy will feel stronger than the THC you inhale from a joint or vape pen.
So, if you were wondering whether or not a 20 mg edible would feel weaker than 20 mg of inhaled THC because its effects are spread out over a longer period of time, the answer is no. It will not. Instead, the edible is likely to feel stronger, even though it also lasts longer.
Anyone who has ever accidentally consumed too much marijuana can tell you that dosage has a significant impact on how long the effects of THC last. You feel the effects of marijuana as long as THC is interacting with your endocannabinoid system. And when you consume a very large dose of THC, you’re more likely to feel effects for longer simply because there’s more THC circulating in your system.
Lower doses and optimal doses of THC generally last for the standard ranges we mentioned above. Inhaled THC tends to create effects for 4 hours in total, while THC edibles last for around 8 hours in total. High doses of THC, on the other hand, may last for longer. Usually, high doses won’t last for longer than 12 hours in total, but very high doses can sometimes be outliers that last for closer to 15 hours. When someone takes an extraordinarily high dose of THC, they may even have lingering effects for a day or two.
With that said, it’s important to note that there’s no universally high THC level. A low dose of THC for one person could be an extremely high dose for another, so you must consider individual body response when factoring in dosage.
Individual Body Response
Individual body response plays a huge role in how we experience cannabis. Two people can take the same dose of the same cannabis product, yet experience different effects over differing periods of time.
There are a number of reasons people experience cannabis use differently. The ones that tend to make the most impact on how long the effects of marijuana last are genetics, metabolism, and tolerance.
Some people are just more sensitive to cannabinoids overall, while others are less sensitive. A person who is hyper sensitive to THC is likely to experience effects for longer, since most doses will be high doses for them. On the other hand, someone who is less sensitive to THC will need to take more THC than the average person to experience longer effects from dosage alone.
People with high metabolic rates process cannabis more quickly. This usually creates a faster onset of effects, but also a shorter duration of effects. On the flip side, people with slow metabolic rates can have a slower onset of effects, but a longer duration of effects.
When you regularly consume cannabis, you usually start to develop a tolerance. Cannabis users who have a high tolerance will have much higher “high THC” thresholds compared to, say, first time cannabis users. Depending on your tolerance level, a certain amount of THC may cause effects for less or more time than average.
How to Make Cannabis Effects Last Longer
If you want the longest possible duration of effects, the best approach is to stick with cannabis edibles. Edibles typically last twice as long as other forms of cannabis, so they’re the ideal ingestion option for longevity.
If you want to make another consumption method last longer, you could try going up a bit in THC dosage. If you usually vape or smoke flower, you could try a strain with a higher THC percentage. If you usually vape oils or use concentrates, you could choose a product with a higher THC concentration. If you’re going to increase your dosage, go up in small increments to avoid accidentally overdoing it.
Another thing you can do to make cannabis last longer is eat fresh mango. A lot of cannabis users say that eating mango an hour or so before using marijuana provides a potency boost and results in longer-lasting effects. We’re still waiting on conclusive scientific evidence that shows why this would occur, but a popular theory is that it’s due to high levels of the terpene myrcene in mangoes.
How to Sober Up From Cannabis
What if you want to sober up from cannabis? Can you make the intoxicating effects of marijuana wear off more quickly than they would naturally?
There are a couple of things you can try if you want to tame the effects of THC. Studies suggest that the terpenes in black peppercorn may tone down the psychoactive effects of THC. And, anecdotally, many cannabis users say that smelling or chewing on black pepper can provide quick relief if you overindulge. Another thing that may dampen the effects of THC is cannabidiol (CBD). CBD has been shown to lessen the unpleasant side effects of THC, such as anxiety or nausea. If you have a CBD product available, using it may make you feel a bit better.
For a more in depth look at this topic, check out our article How to Come Down From a High Fast: Sobering Up From Weed. If you’re currently experiencing side effects after excessive cannabis consumption, be sure to read the second half of the article, which goes over how you can make yourself more comfortable as you recover.