How high is too high?

Published Jun 7, 2020 09:00 a.m. ET
iStock / metamorworks

The simple question of how high is too high is one that is bound to get varying responses depending on who you ask, but most would agree that it’s once you’ve had enough. It’s not any form of measurement, which is a large part of what throws new and potentially interested consumers into a loop of confusion, because if the experts with decades of experiences under their belts can’t answer with a bit more clarity, then what does that mean for them?

Humans, in general, enjoy the comforts that come from routine and knowing exactly what to expect. We count things like calories, salt contents, alcohol, and proteins, and most of us are relatively confident that we know our limits when it comes to many of our vices, and yet, cannabis doses remain a largely misunderstood and heated topic of discussion, even today.

There is no simple answer to how high is too high because it changes greatly from one individual to the next. Too high for one person might be a mild buzz to another, and a dose that causes the symptoms of greening out in one user, may barely be felt by a more experienced cannabis consumer. That all sounds pretty confusing at first, but there is some predictability once you delve further into the various things that can impact how stoned you might feel, after smoking a joint, or enjoying some edibles.

Tolerance levels

One of the most important parts of this equation is a person’s tolerance level, and it isn’t all based on experienced, but most seasons cannabis consumers will have a much higher tolerance to THC than someone who has never dappled in cannabis. Those with no experience have the absolute lowest tolerance levels, and for them, just a tiny amount of THC could result in them greening out.

Tolerance tends to be built up slowly over time, which is why most beginners start experimenting with lower THC products. On your first try, a minor 5 milligrams of THC could be enough to sweep you off of your feet, but after a few months of consuming that amount daily, you’ll likely notice a lessening in effect, and this is your tolerance level building.

In no time, you’ll likely surpass 5mg,10mg, and even 20mg as a good starting point to get stoned, and this will slowly and incrementally go up the longer you continue to use cannabis or infused products. However, this is only true if you use cannabis goods regularly, and those who do not will experience the opposite effect, which is the same thing as a tolerance break.

What is a tolerance break?

A tolerance break is often recommended for those who have a hard time getting stoned, which is something that can happen if you smoke too much or too often for far too long. At this point, the user will typically quit smoking for an extended period of time, in hopes of reducing their tolerance level to a rate that will allow them to get high again.

What does getting high mean to you?

If you sit and truly think about the answer to this question, then you’ll begin to understand what your own personal limits with cannabis should be. Do you enjoy a nice light buzz for certain activities? Or perhaps you like that melt in the couch feeling that comes with smoking just a little bit too much. Whatever the case may be, the results that you’re looking for, are what really matters most in this fuzzy equation.

Trying to completely escape this world is going to take a whole lot more weed, or more specifically, THC, than simply enjoying there, here and now in a more enhanced way. Those with pain might have a different kind of experience altogether, as an incredibly potent strain might not get them too high at all. In fact, they may hardly feel a thing if all of the effects are concentrated on soothing chronic or severe pain symptoms that otherwise might require pharmaceutical treatments such as opioids.


Things to consider

Now, even if you rather enjoy the feeling of being stoned, too high, though not uncomfortable, might not suit your particular kind of lifestyle. Some of us have responsibilities, and how much and how often we choose to consume cannabis should heavily depend on what we have to do in our day to day lives. For example, if you drive, you probably shouldn’t take a larger dose when you have to get behind the wheel, as it is illegal and irresponsible to do so.

Another important thing to consider is how cannabis may impact the smaller things in life. One example of that would be if you were to smoke too much in the middle of the day, leaving you far too stoned and unproductive to finish your daily tasks, or if you weren’t to smoke one morning, could it leave you in pain for the remainder of the day? These are all critical points to be weighed in the challenging task of figuring out how high is too high.

Methods of ingestion

Now when it comes right down to it, the THC molecule can be measured on a precise scale, which is why concentrates and edibles are typically labeled differently than flower. Flower is measured by percentage, whereas edibles are measured by the gram, but 1 milligram of THC is very different than 1 milligram of buds. Since that’s all incredibly confusing even for some of the most seasoned users, we’re going to break it down one step further.

In the average joint, you will find around 5 milligrams of THC, and though that amount can vary depending on the strain, that 5 milligrams will affect you much differently than an edible with the same amount for a couple of different reasons. The first is that when you smoke, a lot of the THC actually goes up in smoke, as it never makes it to your lungs, and the second reason is the way in which edibles are absorbed into the bloodstream makes them last longer and often, are more effective.

You could smoke 5 milligrams of THC in a joint and not get anywhere near as stoned as you would with edibles that contained the same amount. Though we aren’t entirely sure why this is aside from the points mentioned above, the effects when the cannabinoid is absorbed through the stomach are much more intense and can last upwards of 12 hours, which is more than 10 times as long as the effects from smoking a joint might last.

For some, getting too high is a matter of how long a buzz might take to start to wear off, and for them, edibles are a treat that may be best kept for days when there is absolutely nothing else to do. Smoking, on the other hand, offers short-lasting effects that typically wear off in as little as 1 hour, which is a large part of why edibles are so often the culprit when consumers report bad experiences of feeling just way too stoned.

What is greening out?

The ultimate one size fits all answer to the question of how high is too high, is that once you’ve greened out, you have definitely had way too much. Greening out, isn’t so much a specific set of side effects, as everyone experiences it a little bit differently, but a general intense feeling of being unwell is a pretty good indication that you might be facing it head-on. It can also cause things like:

  • Vertigo
  • Nausea
  • Diarrhea
  • Sleep that is difficult to wake from
  • Paranoia
  • Fear
  • Headaches
If you smoke weed try microdosing to home in on your CBD dose


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