Any cannabis consumer can tell you that if there’s one feeling no one enjoys, it’s the moment when you realise, “I’m too high.” Maybe the edible kicked in three hours late. Perhaps you tried to impress a group of friends by breathing in a little bit too deeply. You might have just tried concentrates for the first time and were caught off guard by their potency. Or maybe you are just a low-tolerance consumer.
There are a thousand ways it can happen, but once it does, the resulting experience can be uncomfortable and enough to turn off even the most seasoned cannabis lover.
After smoking weed, how long you stay high depends on a variety of factors: consumption method, dosage, and unique individual variables that can vary from person to person. Typically, the higher the potency of a cannabis product, the longer the high will last. Concentrates are the most potent form of cannabis, with flower and edibles following behind. This could mean that it would take longer to sober up from dabs than smoking a bowl, however, dosage and your body’s chemistry would still be the decider here. It’s also important to note that the everyday smoker with a higher weed tolerance will sober up a lot faster than the occasional consumer who hits the party joint a couple of times.
Anecdotally speaking, the average cannabis high can last anywhere between 30 minutes to 2 hours at its peak, with some lingering effects still felt for a period of time after. Some highs have been known to last a lot longer. Thankfully, there are ways to help come back down and sober up when you feel too high, overwhelmed, or uncomfortable from excessive cannabis consumption.
Let us start with the infinite wisdom of Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy:
DON’T PANIC. YOU ARE FINE AND EVERYTHING IS OKAY.
Most symptoms of “greening out” (imbibing too much cannabis) will dissipate within minutes to hours, with no lasting effects beyond a little grogginess. Give it some time and these feelings will eventually pass, trust us.
Also, contrary to what you may have heard, there have been zero reported cannabis overdose deaths in the history of ever, so despite how freaked out you may feel or how sweaty you get, you won’t expire from excessive consumption. (Don’t take that on as a challenge, just keep in mind that if you accidentally overdo it, you’ll be OK in a while.)
Water, water, water—don’t forget to hydrate! Whether you prefer water or juice, make sure you have a nice, cold beverage on hand (preferably non-caffeinated). This will help you combat dry mouth and allow you to focus on a simple and familiar act—sipping and swallowing.
Keep in mind that by “hydrate,” we don’t mean “knock back a few alcoholic beverages.” If you’re feeling the effects of your strain a little too aggressively, stay away from alcohol as it can increase THC blood concentrations.
Some people find that a light snack helps to feel a little more grounded. Consider grazing on some fruits, nuts, or cheese, and see if it’s a little easier to connect mind and body.
If you can, try to prepare for your cannabis session according to your tolerance level. Okay, this tip won’t help you once you’re already over the edge, but it can help you avoid an uncomfortable situation next time.
Consume with friends you know and are comfortable with, and don’t feel pressured to consume more than you can handle. It’s all well and good to make new friends, but being surrounded by strangers when you can’t feel your face is unpleasant at best and anxiety-ridden at worst.
Take it slow, especially when consuming edibles. We recommend trying a standard dose of 10 mg (or even 5 mg if you really want to ease into the experience) and waiting at least an hour, if not two, before increasing your edibles dosage. The same goes for inhalation methods—if you’re used to occasionally taking one hit off your personal vaporizer, we advise not sitting in a smoking circle puffing and passing for an hour.
If you find yourself combating paranoia and anxiety, a simple household ingredient found in kitchens and restaurants everywhere can come to your rescue: black pepper. Many swear by the black pepper trick, even Neil Young! Just sniff or chew on a few black peppercorns and it should provide almost instantaneous relief.
Find a calm, quiet place where you can rest and breathe deeply. Remember, the intense discomfort you’re feeling will pass. Take deep full breaths in through your nose and out through your mouth. Focus on the sound of your breath and just rest a while.
Sometimes sleeping it off can be the best alternative to stopping a strong high, but it’s not always easy to turn your brain off. Once you’ve found a quiet area, lay down and let yourself relax. If drowsiness and sleep are quick to onset, take a little nap to rejuvenate yourself. Should you be unable to fall asleep, just get comfortable until you feel strong enough to spring back up.
If you can’t turn your brain off, sometimes a change of scenery and some fresh air to get your blood pumping will help invigorate you. Just remember to stay close to your immediate surroundings—we don’t want you wandering off and getting lost while you’re feeling anxious and paranoid! And refrain from taking a walk if you’re feeling too woozy or light-headed to stand; instead, we recommend Option #5 and lay down for a while.
While it’s not always feasible if you’re out and about or at a friend’s house, if you’re at home, try taking a nice shower or bath as a really pleasant option to help relax while you wait for the effects of smoking too much weed to dissipate.
All of the activities that seem so entertaining and fun while high are also a great way to distract yourself while you try to come back down to Earth. Some suggestions include:
Whatever distractions you prefer, make sure it’s a familiar activity that gives you warm, fuzzy emotions. Your brain will hopefully zone in on the positive feelings and give you a gentle reminder that you are safe and just fine.