If you are a regular marijuana user, you doubtless have had contrasting experiences when it comes to an intoxicating high. On one occasion, you may feel mellow and chilled out. However, a week later, and you experience a feeling of euphoria along with a burst of energy. Just as you think you have it all figured out, along comes a more psychedelic high that concerns you a little.
The most obvious reasons for having different experiences with marijuana include using different strains. However, there are many other factors to consider, and we analyze them in this article.
1 – The Amount You Consume
Apart from using completely different cannabis strains, this is one of the main factors that affect a high. In particular, novices need to use a low dose at first to see how marijuana impacts them. Yet even seasoned cannabis users occasionally make a mistake and overindulge.
If you consume too little, you may feel as if it is a wasted effort. Use too much, and you enter a state of intoxication that you can’t wait to leave.
If you are a beginner, there is no ‘weak’ dose, and 5mg of THC is plenty. For individuals with a low tolerance, 5-10mg is sufficient. Experienced users with a medium tolerance could use up to 20mg.
Finally, marijuana veterans with a high tolerance usually ‘start’ with 25mg, and can work their way as high as 80mg! If a newbie consumes that amount, they probably won’t want to try cannabis a second time.
It is also true that tolerance to cannabis varies from person to person. You may find that you naturally can use more than average without adverse effects. Conversely, you may discover that you’re a ‘lightweight.’
2 – Consumption Method
There is a world of difference between smoking, eating, and vaping marijuana. There is even a significant difference between using a joint and a bong. Estimates vary but smoking a joint results in a THC loss of up to 63%. You lose slightly less with a bong. If you vape, you tend to lose around 46% of the THC. This is according to a study by Reyes, published in NIDA in 1990.
The key word here is ‘bioavailability,’ which refers to the absorption rate of cannabinoids. Another study, published in Pain Research & Management in 2005, suggested that smoked THC had a bioavailability of around 30%.
Meanwhile, a study published in PLOS One found that vaporization’s bioavailability is between 50% and 80%. The bioavailability of orally consumed THC is between 4% and 12% according to the 2005 study, though some researchers suggest it could reach 20%.
In any case, there is clearly a massive difference between how much THC reaches your bloodstream according to the consumption method. Let’s say you consume 100mg of THC. If you eat a cannabis cookie with this amount, you probably only get 12-20mg. This rises to 30mg if you smoke it, and 50-80mg if you vape it.
While smoking and vaping hit hard and fast, it can take up to two hours for an edible to affect. Therefore, you should exercise extreme caution when eating THC.
3 – Environment & Mood
Believe it or not, the environment in which you use marijuana has a surprisingly big part to play in your high. It is entirely possible to use a similar amount of the same strain two days running, but experience a different high due to your surroundings and mood.
If you smoke weed outdoors, you may feel nervous about being caught. This could result in heightened paranoia. If you smoke alone, you may feel relaxed and chilled out. If you try cannabis with a group of friends, you might feel at ease and become more sociable. Alternatively, the situation could trigger social anxiety.
It would help if you took note of how you feel when using marijuana in specific settings. It is also essential to consider your mood before you begin a session. If you feel down, does cannabis tend to make you feel better or worse? If you are happy, to begin with, does the weed keep that mood going, or does it cause greater introspection?
4 – Cannabinoids
The impact of cannabis indeed depends on the strain. One of the primary reasons for this is its cannabinoid profile. For most people, it is all about the intoxication caused by THC. However, many people want to try high-CBD strains or ones with a mix of both cannabinoids.
A critical factor to consider is the THC to CBD ratio. For example, Gorilla Glue #4 is an extremely potent strain. It has up to 25% THC and only 0.1% CBD. As a result, it can cause an overwhelming level of intoxication if used irresponsibly.
If you want to get high sensibly, focus on strains with a THC to CBD ratio of 2:1 or less. The best 1:1 THC to CBD cannabis strains give you a nice balance between intoxication and the potential to manage certain medical symptoms. If you have low THC tolerance, consider strains with a THC to CBD ratio of 1:2 or higher. Once you get to the 1:8 ratio and above, you are unlikely to feel much intoxication.
For decades, the assumption was that CBD interfered with the effects of THC. This was due to the findings of a study published in 1974 in the European Journal of Pharmacology. However, a multitude of studies conducted since contradict these findings. It seems that as long as you consume enough THC, the CBD you consume won’t prevent a high.
You may not experience a strong level of intoxication because the strain doesn’t contain much THC. Dancehall has a THC to CBD ratio of almost 1:2. It also contains 9% THC. Sweet and Sour Widow is a popular 1:1 strain but seldom has a THC content of 10+%.
At the time of writing, we don’t know of a marijuana strain with 20% THC and a very high CBD level.
5 – Terpenes
Cannabis strains also have varying degrees of terpenes. The level of research into these compounds has only started to gather pace in recent times. Terpenes are responsible for the smell and taste of marijuana. You will find them in abundance in perfumes and bathroom products.
Research to date suggests that terpenes have potential therapeutic effects.
For example, limonene offers a citrus taste and smell. There is a suggestion that it provides relief from stress and anxiety. You will find linalool in lavender, which is known for its relaxing properties.
A study published in Toxicological Research in 2017 looked at the effects of terpenes from forests on human health. The researchers concluded by saying the studies they looked at “extensively reported the pharmaceutical activities of monoterpenes among the terpenes.” The report also said that terpenes from essential oils exhibit potent biological activities.
It stands to reason that the terpenes in cannabis have a similar effect.
6 – Age
Cannabis users often find that their tolerance ultimately decreases once they reach a certain age. One may look at Willie Nelson for inspiration. He is famous for his love of cannabis and continues to use it in his eighties. However, he has finally stopped smoking weed after admitting that he has abused his lungs a lot in the past.
Is this the proof that anti-marijuana protestors are looking for? NO! Willie still uses cannabis; he just consumes it in different forms. He claimed that weed actually saved his life. Even so, it is almost certain that he no longer uses the same amount as he did 30 years ago.
A study published in Psychopharmacology in 2007 looked at the effects of THC in adolescent and adult rats. It found that the younger rodents tolerated the effects of cannabis better than their senior counterparts. The older rats also showed more signs of anxiety and stress while also having suppressed movement.
Final Thoughts on Things That Affect How High You Get
In the end, the only way to know how marijuana affects you is to pay attention when you imbibe. If you are relatively new to the world of weed, you must begin with a small, sensible amount. When consuming edibles, give it at least an hour before it takes effect, and it could take two hours.
It is only with experience that you will determine what marijuana does for you. Perhaps you will discover that it doesn’t have a pleasant outcome. In that case, you could try non-intoxicating CBD instead.