The effects of marijuana

Published Jan 29, 2019 01:40 p.m. ET

The effects referred to in this article are THC focused. THC (tetrahydrocannabinol) is the active compound responsible for the stereotypical euphoric and psychoactive effects a user expects when consuming marijuana products. The amount of THC you use can significantly affect the length of a high. For instance, if you are a heavy user, then chances are you will have a higher tolerance. Much like alcohol, THC will affect every person uniquely, and the exact results will depend on many things like the overall THC content, amount ingested, and how you choose to use it. So how long does a high last? Well to explain we will separate the effects by way of consumption since that’s where the dramatic differences lie in how THC is absorbed through a user’s body.

How long do side effects of weed last?

One of the largest determining factors in how long a marijuana buzz will last is the chosen method of ingestion.

Smoking/vaping

When smoking or vaping pot, the user inhales a large cloud of smoke that goes directly into the lungs. Lungs have a liner of alveoli which lead directly to the bloodstream. When marijuana is ingested this way, it is absorbed the fastest through the blood and is then filtered through the brain. This makes it the most widely used and most popular but comes with a downside of much shorter effects. Since it is immediately absorbed into the bloodstream, it is also processed faster. A high from smoking marijuana usually kicks in quickly and can last upwards of six hours.

Edibles/ THC Oils

Since edibles and oils in most places are not yet legal to sell, they aren’t so widely used or available but are the most beneficial medicinally. When eaten, the effects are the longest lasting. With edibles, THC is filtered through the body’s liver. This is a slow process making the results take anywhere from four to six hours to be felt at all, but the high can last for as many as twelve hours with some users reporting still feeling residual effects even longer than that. Edibles offer what is most often considered to be the most intense high. Because of that, the feeling can be more overwhelming, especially for new users.

Topically

While this may be the least common of the bunch, it has a few added benefits the others don’t, like a much milder buzz. Topical products are also unique because they give the user the ability to treat pain directly. For example, marijuana tampons are being touted a lifesaver for women who suffer from painful PMS symptoms. Creams can be used directly on a problem area like a sore joint or muscle. Usually, those who use cannabis products topically don’t use it to get high. Instead, they are treating symptoms in a particular spot. However, depending on the strength, it is possible to feel either a head high or a body buzz for up to twelve hours after applying. Making it perfect for those who want a more mild but effective treatment while still functioning with a clear head.

THC & terpene content

Most marijuana plants produce at least some level of THC, but that amount can be anywhere from 0.5% to 30%. With the effects of higher THC content strains being generally accepted as the most potent strains. While this is true to some extent, terpenes have shown to have just as much influence on the overall effect of consuming marijuana. Terpenes produce the taste and smell offering an additional aromatherapy type quality that is far too often overlooked.

There are so many different factors to consider when estimating exactly how a specific strain will affect a person. It is almost impossible to know for sure until they try it. The best way to find a strain with effects that suit your interest will be through trial and error. For the most part, these guidelines are a good starting point on what to expect from the effects of using marijuana. If you are new and looking for what to expect your first time consuming, there are a few precautions you can take to set yourself up for the best experience possible. Start with a low dose, make sure you aren’t alone, and never feel pushed to consume more than you are comfortable with. Marijuana does come with the possibility of inducing anxiety and panic attacks. Stay safe and enjoy responsibly.

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