How Long Do the Effects of Cannabis Last?
Updated: Apr 7
Many qualified medical marijuana patients have questions about the effects of cannabis. 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 can set you up for a positive experience when using medical marijuana. 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. However, keep in mind that every person's experience with marijuana is different, meaning that you might find its effects shorter or longer-lived than the average person.
The Average High
There is no single answer to the question of how long the effects of marijuana will last. 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.
With the delivery method, there are two primary ways to use medical marijuana—you either inhale it or you eat it. The effects for each method are as follows:
Inhaled cannabis lasts between 1 and 3 hours
Edible cannabis lasts between 4 and 8 hours
Let’s take a more in depth look into each consumption method and what to expect.
The most popular way of consuming medical marijuana is to inhale it. Dried flower or bud is the typical form, but you can also find concentrates like wax, shatter, or distillates in vape pen cartridges.
When you smoke marijuana, the onset can take about 5 to 10 minutes and 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.
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. As a result, most people who use these products consume much more THC than they would smoking flower. The more THC you smoke, the longer your high is going to last.
Vape pens tend to fall on the spectrum between dried flower and concentrates. While they typically have high concentrations of THC, they usually deliver small 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.
In comparison to smoking marijuana, ingesting marijuana lasts longer and feels more intense. This is true whether you consume an edible or use a tincture.
With oral medical marijuana products, you can expect intoxicating effects to kick in after about 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.
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.
Tinctures, which are cannabis products made to be taken sublingually, 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.
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.
If you are an Missourian suffering from a qualifying condition, you may be eligible to treat your ailment with medical marijuana, which includes both THC and CBD products.
Click here to learn more about what Missouri Marijuana Card's certified medical marijuana physicians can do for you, or give us a call at 877-303-3117 and our friendly patient support team can walk you through the entire process, and set you up with an appointment through telemedicine.