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Trying cannabis for the first time can be daunting. Like coffee or wine, enjoying mind-altering effects of the herb is an acquired taste. Once the experience gets going, the only thing left to do is continue on. Fortunately, the acute effects of inhaled cannabis don’t last very long. Edibles, on the other hand, are a different story. Here’s how long being high on weed lasts and how the herb might affect you once it wears off.

How long do the effects of weed last?

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For many new consumers, the cannabis high can be a little intense. Fortunately, if you’ve smoked, vaporized, or dabbed the herb, the experience really doesn’t last very long.

When inhaled, tetrahydrocannabinol (THC), the primary psychoactive in cannabis, saturates the brain within minutes.

Full effects of the herb can often be felt in a mere quarter of an hour. After that, the experience starts to mellow out and will wind down over the course of the next one to three hours.

Oral cannabis, however, takes a lot longer to wear off. When consuming the herb in an infused food or capsule, the effects can take anywhere from 30 minutes to two hours to take effect. Once they kick in, these effects can last as long as four to eight hours. Though, toward the end of the experience, you’ll likely want to lay down for a nap.

Here’s a simple recap:

  • Inhaling: One to three hours
  • Edibles and ingestibles: Four to six hours (depending on amount consumed)

Interested in learning more about what causes the cannabis high and what it feels like? Here are some articles to consider.

Will cannabis give me a hangover?

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The acute effects of cannabis only last for a few hours. However, THC has what is called a long half life. The half-life of a drug refers to the time it takes for the compound to reduce in concentration by half in circulating blood. THC quickly moves out of the blood and into fat, where it likes to call home.

Here’s where things get interesting. As cannabis is stored in fat, it stays in the body for extended periods of time. As this fat burns, THC is re-released into the bloodstream, where it can influence the internal environment.

But, don’t worry just yet! This doesn’t mean that you will feel “high” for extended periods of time. Rather, after the herb wears off, many consumers experience what is often referred to as a “cannabis hangover” or being “washed”.

Cannabis hangovers are significantly more common with higher doses of cannabis. For example, if you eat one edible too many, you may feel a little extra tired or unfocused the next morning.

Here are some tell-tale signs of a cannabis hangover:

  • Headache
  • Drowsiness/ fatigue/ grogginess
  • Brain fog
  • Dehydration
  • Dry eyes

A cannabis hangover is nothing like an alcohol hangover, which can leave some people stuck in bed for the entire day.

Rather, with a cannabis hangover, most people just feel a little tired or groggy. This sensation goes away after a good night’s rest, plenty of water, some healthy food, and perhaps a vitamin supplement or two, such as B12 and Omega 3 fatty acids.

Of course, always check with your doctor before taking a new vitamin supplement.

Teens feel the effects of cannabis longer

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Interestingly, the effects of cannabis may impact adolescents and teens longer than it affects adults. According to Dr. Francis Jensen, a neuroscientist, author of The Teenage Brain, and chair of the department of neurology at the University of Pennsylvania Proman School of Medicine, cannabis sticks around in teenage brains in a very different way from adults.

She tells NPR’s Fresh Air,

Not only does the teen brain have more places for the cannabis to land, if you will, it actually stays there longer. It locks on longer than in the adult brain.

This means that teens and adolescents may experience the cognitive effects of cannabis for more extended periods of time. Jensen continues,

For instance, if they were to get high over a weekend, the effects may be still there on Thursday and Friday later that week. An adult wouldn’t have that same long-term effect.

To summarize, the acute effects of cannabis are more or less short-lived. After a few puffs of the herb, you can expect the mind-altering experience to wear off after just a few hours.

However, the psychoactive plant can make you feel groggy and fatigued for a day or so after consuming in heavy quantities. These drowsy and spacy effects may last longer in younger people, which is one reason to delay cannabis use until adulthood.

If you’re not having such a good time, check out this article for tips on what to do if you’re not having a good time.

This article is intended for informational purposes only, and should not be used in place of medical advice or treatment. Always seek medical assistance in times of need. 

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