Maybe that edible kicked in after you took an extra dose because you weren’t “feeling it.” You may have ripped the bong too long or tried dabbing for the first time and got hit with an intense high that you weren’t expecting. Or you may just have a low tolerance as a new medical marijuana patient. No matter how it happens, being too high can sneak up on you, and once it does, the experience can make you feel odd.
Cannabis overdose doesn’t have fatal side effects; thankfully, the uncomfortable adverse symptoms subside within a day. Here’s how to come back from consuming too much THC.
How does the body process THC?
The endocannabinoid system is an extensive network of chemical signals and cellular receptors densely packed throughout our brains and bodies.
The “cannabinoid” receptors in the brain — the CB1 receptors — regulate the body through immediate feedback, turning up or down the movement of whichever system needs to be adjusted, whether hunger, temperature, or alertness. Our bodies naturally produce endocannabinoids to stimulate these receptors, which are similar to molecules in the cannabis plant.
The endocannabinoid system regulates learning and memory, emotional processing, sleep, temperature control, pain control, inflammatory and immune responses, and eating.
THC is a sticky, easily vaporized compound that dissolves into fatty tissue like the liver, lungs, and spleen. The liver metabolizes THC into an inactive compound (THCCOOH). There are two enzymes responsible for THC metabolism, and it can depend on your genetic background. This means that some people may metabolize marijuana more quickly than others.
How long does THC stay in the system?
A 2017 study estimated a three-day detection window for one marijuana joint, but it greatly varies depending on the person.
The results showed:
- For first-time cannabis smokers, drug tests may detect marijuana for about three days.
- The detection window is five to seven days for a person who uses marijuana three or four times per week.
- For those who use cannabis daily, drug tests may detect it in their system for thirty days or more.
THC is broken down in the body and modified into molecules called metabolites. Approximately eighty metabolites are formed from THC and may affect the body’s endocannabinoid system. These metabolites are stored in our body fat and are gradually eliminated through our waste. THC metabolites have an elimination half-life ranging from twenty hours to thirteen days or more.
How long does a weed high last?
Researchers have shown that a THC high generally lasts between three and ten hours. If a person smokes marijuana or vapes concentrates, the effects come on within minutes and last anywhere from one to three hours on average. Edibles have a slower onset but may produce 3-5 hours of impact before they wear off. Biological factors like age, metabolism, gender, weight, fat, water distribution, medications, diet, and cannabis tolerance all influence how long a high THC lasts.
Symptoms of Being Too High
If you get too high, chances are you’ll know. But if you’re unsure how to determine if you’re too high from smoking weed, there are a few signs to look out for, including the following:
- dry mouth
- excessive sweating
- intense hunger
What happens when you consume too much cannabis?
It’s important to remember that the high you get from marijuana comes from THC, most of which affects our brains. So, the high is mainly in your head. It is impossible to die from a THC overdose, so hang on to that comforting thought if you start to get THC-induced anxiety from consuming too much marijuana. It will wear off and there are things you can do to speed up that process; read more on that below.
How to Get Rid of a High from THC
Here are ten tips for getting rid of the psychoactive effects from smoking marijuana.
Cannabis is an organic substance with no real risk of a fatal overdose. That being said, anxiety and paranoia induced by THC’s effects can feel very real and frightening. Relaxing practices such as yoga, meditation, or breathing exercises may help to relax your mind from racing thoughts. If you are feeling a little too high, try your best to relax and take a deep breath; it will all be okay!
It is well-known that drinking water can increase our metabolism and help flush toxins from the body. Hydrating can also help with undesirable dry eyes and mouth that can come with THC ingestion. However, it is essential to reach for non-alcoholic beverages, as increased blood alcohol content (BAC) has been shown to enhance the effects of THC. Drink fresh water for best results and to combat oral dryness.
Some cannabis users report that a simple salty snack and drinking orange juice or other fruit juices can help them feel more grounded. Try eating some acid fruits, nuts, or cheese and see if that helps your situation. Remember that certain fruits can actually enhance the high (mango) so do a little research on your snack choices ahead of time.
If a person fixates on how high they are, it can lead to more panic and anxiety. Occupying the mind can sometimes take away the feeling of being too high. For example, people can try the following:
- listening to music
- watching a comedy
- breathing exercises or yoga
- painting, doing a puzzle, doodling, playing a game
- playing an instrument
- Organizing or light cleaning
Take a Shower
While it may not always be possible, a shower or bath is an excellent way to unwind while waiting for the THC effects to wear off. A cold shower can be a great way to obtain immediate relief and feel grounded in the moment.
Try CBD products
Cannabidiol (CBD) is a non-intoxicating cannabinoid with different properties and functions than THC, so it holds the potential to balance out some of the unwanted effects. When CBD and THC are taken together, they work within the body’s endocannabinoid systems to reduce feelings of anxiety and fear. Take some CBD oil or gummies, and give your system time to recover.
Black pepper contains terpenes that can balance out the effects of THC. Pepper contains the terpenes pinene and caryophyllene, which work to calm anxiety. Chew on or breathe in the aroma of a few black peppercorns or ground pepper to experience the sedating effects.
Go for a Walk
Getting the body moving and blood pumping can help regulate blood pressure and take a person’s mind off being too high. Deep breathing of fresh air replenishes oxygen and function in the lungs, and a shift in scenery can help distract the mind from a cannabis high.
The citrus-flavored terpene limonene, located in the rinds of citrus fruits and particular cannabis strains, has demonstrated the ability to reduce anxiety. A 2012 study published in Brain Research found that limonene produced anxiety-reducing effects. If you have a lemon, try squeezing it to release its scent and breathe that in deeply. You could also choose a lemon drink flavor if you’re out and about, it won’t be the same but could still calm the nerves.
Take a Nap
The fastest way to drop a high THC is to fall asleep. Whether it be a nap or a full night’s rest, it will allow time to pass so the effects of the THC can wear off. Falling asleep may be difficult if a person feels anxious after smoking weed or consuming weed products, so you may want to try one of the above methods to relax first.
How to Know Your Limits
Just as you learn your drinking limits before a night out at the bar, it’s essential to have a clear idea of how much cannabis you can handle to help you avoid consuming more than you can handle.
When it comes to inhalation, it’s best to start with a couple of hits and then wait a while.
You can work your way up if you are still waiting to experience the desired effects. If possible, try to learn the potency of your cannabis seeds, buds, concentrates, or edibles so you know what you’re working with up front.
Cannabis concentrates require more caution, as they have much higher THC levels than dried buds. Start with one three-second puff and work your way up when using a vape. However, dabs produce a more intense high and should be cautiously approached.
Consuming edibles create potent highs because the body converts THC to 11-hydroxy-THC during digestion, a chemical thought to be 2-4 times more powerful than THC. To avoid overconsumption, start with a ten-milligram dose and wait at least two hours before consuming more.
The Bottom Line
If you get higher than intended, keep in mind that it will pass in a few hours. It is essential to note that many of the above tips are anecdotal or need more scientific evidence. Cannabis users are likely to react differently to THC so being too high is genuinely an experience unique to each individual.
To avoid being too high, use caution when smoking or ingesting marijuana. If you feel that none of the above tricks are helping or are genuinely worried about your health, we recommend that you seek medical attention for reassurance.
Last Updated: July 25, 2023
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