How Long Does it Take to Feel the Effects of Cannabis?
Article written by
Tina MagrabiSenior Content Writer
Content reviewed by
Dr. Lewis JasseyMedical Director - Pediatric Medicine
Table of contents
You may feel the psychoactive effects of cannabis in your system anywhere from a few minutes to a few hours after consuming the plant.
The time frame depends greatly on your method of consumption and the type of cannabis being consumed.
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How Long It Takes to Feel Cannabis?
One of the reasons that many recreational users enjoy marijuana is for the “high” associated with tetrahydrocannabinol (THC). While the euphoric release of dopamine is enjoyable for most people, it is also medicinal for many suffering from anxiety and depression. On the other hand, some people will feel paranoid, anxious or afraid after consuming THC, in which case cannabidiol (CBD) may be the better alternative. However, patients shouldn’t see THC vs CBD as an either/or decision. They both work together synergistically, increasing each other’s anti-inflammatory and pain killing properties via the entourage effect.
THC is also known to reduce inflammation and have pain-relieving effects much like CBD. Noted side effects of THC include dry eyes and mouth, fatigue, confusion, distorted sense of time, heightened senses (brighter colors/sounds) and slowed motor skills. THC is also particularly useful for treating insomnia and chronic pain, and replacing opioids. Adding a little bit of THC to CBD – even non-psychoactive amounts – can improve CBD’s efficacy via the entourage effect.
Unlike THC, it may be harder to notice any immediate effects of CBD since it is not intoxicating. The more immediate effects often lay in pain relief, reduced inflammation and the reduction of seizures. On the other hand, you may not see a noticeable difference in your levels of anxiety or depression after only a single dose. In these cases, consistent use of CBD may help you feel the desired effects over weeks and months. Noted side effects of CBD include dry eyes and mouth, fatigue, and changes in appetite and weight.
Impact of Ingestion Methods
Your ingestion method strongly impacts how long it will take for you to feel “high” on cannabis.
Smoking and Vaping
People looking for the most fast-acting relief often choose to go for old-fashioned smoking or the more modern cousin, vaping. Either of these methods is likely to have you feeling the effects of medical marijuana within minutes of your first puffs, making it an excellent way to regulate your usage.
Compared to the relief in minutes that you can see with smoking or vaping, it may seem like an hour is a long time to wait. Though cannabis edibles do take a while to take effect, you are likely to feel the effects more intensely and for a longer period using this method of medicating. Be extra careful when it comes to dosing edibles, as the effects are considerably stronger than other ingestion methods.
An option for people who are looking for fast-acting relief but aren’t so open to the idea of smoking or vaping is to turn to topicals and tinctures. Topicals are great for pain and inflammation affecting skin and muscles and often work within 30 minutes, as they are absorbed at the site of pain.
Sublinguals (Cannabis Tinctures)
Like smoking and vaping, sublingual ingestion is a fast way to experience the effects of cannabis. In general, you can expect the effects to start as soon as 15 minutes after placing a few drops of cannabis topical or tincture under your tongue. Tinctures can be taken orally or used topically and can take 15 minutes to an hour to take effect in most cases.
Short vs. Long Term Medical Marijuana Benefits
Not all the benefits of medical marijuana use are immediately apparent, especially when you’re medicating with CBD. Some things just take time to see the impact, like reduced seizures, reduced overall pain, improved overall mood and improved sleep patterns.
CBD specifically may take anywhere from a week to a month to get to a point where you are really noticing a difference in the way you feel day-to-day. Don’t let the lack of immediate relief discourage you. If you are using a quality product and staying consistent, you should see the results you are looking for, even if it takes some time.
Another factor is building tolerance. Now, building too much tolerance to THC can prove expensive, but building just enough tolerance can help patients get the benefits they’re seeking from medical cannabis while at the same time reducing the chances of a negative experience.
Download Our Tips For Minimizing Negative Effects
Dosing for Best Results
As with most medications, there is no one-size-fits-all answer when it comes to dosage for medical marijuana. The truth is that most people find what works for them through experimentation, which is always safest under the supervision of your physician or another healthcare professional.
When you’re new to using medical marijuana, and you don’t know what to expect, the best advice is to start low and go slow. Start with a lower dosage – one or two puffs off a joint or vape or a five-milligram dose of edibles – then wait to see if that was enough for you.
If you’re not feeling the effects, you can always take more, but taking too much initially can cause an uncomfortable experience you won’t likely forget. How long should you wait before taking another dose? That answer depends on the method you’re using to medicate.
Download Our 1 Pager Guide to Dosing Medical Marijuana
The Bottom Line
Ingestion method or administration route, experience level and dosage all play primary roles in how long it will take to feel the effects of cannabis. Smoking and vaping tend to produce the fastest effects, whereas edibles usually work more slowly.
Experience the potential therapeutic effects of cannabis with a medical marijuana card obtained online. Leafwell’s team of healthcare professionals are here to help you apply for your MMJ card in our virtual clinic.
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Frequently Asked Questions
How long do you stay “high” after smoking cannabis?
You may feel the intoxicating effects of cannabis for up to eight hours after smoking cannabis, depending on how much you have consumed, your tolerance levels, etc. For some people, the intoxicating effects of smoked or vaped cannabis are even briefer, lasting for an hour or less.
How long does weed take to kick in?
You could start to feel the effects of cannabis as quickly as a few minutes if your consumption method is smoking or vaping. On the other hand, it may take two hours or more for the effects of marijuana edibles to kick in fully. Apply the mantra “start low and go slow” no matter what consumption method you choose for the safest and most effective experience.