How? How much? When? For how long?
Read our section on dosing and tolerance in ME for more information.
The high you experience from a given dose of cannabis depends on many different details about the user, such as their weight, the speed of their metabolism, their past experiences and the situation in which the cannabis is consumed.
The same is true of every other drug, but with cannabis, it is especially difficult to identify one’s ideal quantity, due to the variety of strains, the way you consume it, and the distribution of the active compounds in the buds.
How you take it matters... From the healthiest to the most harmful ways to get ‘high’:
This route of administration is the healthiest, but it can only be obtained with a medical prescription in countries where this is legal and sold. As such, it is barely used among recreational drug users, who for the most part are left with more calorific or carcinogenic alternatives. Sativex is the most widely-known spray. It contains high levels of both THC and CBD, and takes around 15 minutes to kick in.
Vaping involves heating up cannabis to release THC and other cannabinoids. Vaping is, crucially, a cleaner alternative to combustion (i.e. smoking/inhaling). The heating process creates a temperature cool enough to avoid creating the toxins that appear before the burning point. Therefore, vaping is likely to reduce the coughing and throat irritation associated with smoking. It also doesn’t require any tobacco, and therefore may reduce tobacco addiction in cannabis users [Ref 3, 7, 8]. This may be the most expensive method of administration, because of the price of the vaporiser. However, vaporising could be a cost-effective method in the long term [Ref 8, 9].
Aside from the preparation, eating is probably the easiest and safest way to consume cannabis. But eating cannabis is not without dangers: new users anticipate similar timing and effects to when they are vaping/smoking/inhaling, but edibles take much longer (up to 2 hours) to kick in, and it’s tempting to re-dose before the high comes on. Be patient and wait for it: if the first dose wasn't strong enough, try a higher dose another day. Re-dosing is the easiest way to overdose! People normally feel that edibles give them a “body high,” this is because the compounds in cannabis are slightly altered by the stomach, intestine and liver.
Cannabis can be inhaled through a pipe or a bong. While it's less harmful than smoking, it is easier to inhale greater quantities of smoke. Users should be careful not to breathe too deeply in order to regulate their high. Bongs with ice catchers can reduce the irritation of the throat as the ice cools down the smoke.
Smoking cannabis is the most common way to get high, even though it’s the unhealthiest. This method increases the probability of developing lung cancer because burning cannabis (with or without tobacco) creates toxins associated with cancer. In Europe, cannabis is often mixed with a much deadlier companion: tobacco. Adding tobacco to your cannabis increases the chances of throat irritation, and also increases the risks of cancer and dependence. Read more below.
Click the brain for neuro-info!
Written by Chandni Hindocha, PhD student at UCL
For someone consuming the average dose, a one gram bag of cannabis will last between 8–12 smokes, if you roll your joints with king skins and mix your weed with tobacco.
Every time you try a new strain, or use a different supplier, smoke a smaller dose than you are used to, so you can notice variations in the effects and potency of the drug (we define potency as the amount of active ingredient required to produce a desired effect).
- Light dose: 0.05 g
- Common dose: 0.15 g
- Strong dose: 0.25 g
When you cook edibles, there are even more factors that influence the high and effect you'll get from the food. Some of these are: the strain you are using, whether you are using oil or butter, the time you leave it cooking, the strength of the heat (low heat, between 1-2 hours in a saucepan is optimum), and of course, your culinary skills... You might need to practise cooking with cannabis more than once before you get the optimal high from the amount you choose to cook.
- Light dose: 2-4 mg
- Medium dose: 3-8 mg
- Strong dose: 4-15 mg
When do the effects kick in and for how long?
The START time below is when you will usually begin to feel the effects of cannabis from the time when you first take it. DURATION is roughly the length of time you will experience the effects, after which the effects will start to wind down and you might start to feel the calm-down/comedown effects.
- START: 2-10 minutes
- DURATION: 2-8 hours
- START: 20-120 minutes (depends on stomach content)
- DURATION: 3-9 hours
[Ref 11, 12]
Kief is the resin that falls off dry cannabis or what accumulates in grinders. It is the strongest part and contains high concentrations of THC. Watch out for this.
How often can I take it?
Just as if you take too much, using marijuana too often can also produce an irreversible loss of the drug's potency.