This has been an eternal question for cannabis enthusiasts; how long do the effects of cannabis last? Well, the good news is that science has determined an answer—at least a much more adequate answer backed by research and experiments.
In a recent 2021 study which has been published in the Neuroscience & Biobehavioral Reviews and conducted by a group of researchers from University of Sydney, headed by Danielle McCartney, the phrase “window of impairment” was coined. “Window of impairment” means the effects you feel post-cannabis consumption The study highlighted that this could last anywhere in between 3 to 10 hours, depending on the dosage of THC, the previous cannabis experiences of the consumer, and the mode of digestion adopted.
While the factors vary from one to another, the average duration for which cannabis effects could last ranges up to approximately 4 hours.
An experience from using a lighter dose could generally last up to 3 hours, whereas an intake of a heavily dosed edible or an intense dabbing session could make the effects last between 6 to 10 hours.
What has previous research concluded about the length of cannabis effects?
The group of researchers from Sydney University, under the leadership of McCartney, completed a thorough analysis of the studies and experiments conducted during the 80s. They specifically focused on the studies that revolved around intoxication and cannabis dosage.
Because their major focus was how cannabis intoxication could impact the consumer and what effects it possesses, most of the research answers similar questions.
A part of the research highlights that most cannabis enthusiasts who inhaled 20 mgs of THC at a time experienced the effects within a time duration of 5 hours. The participants who took edibles with similar THC proportions were likely to take a little longer to stop feeling any effects from the cannabis. The fact remains intact that most cannabis edibles available in the market contain 10mgs of THC per serving and are likely to have 100 mgs of THC in their total packaging.
“The overall research accumulates that THC has an element to cause a window of impairment amongst consumers”, say the researchers. “There’s no accurate answer to the question, ‘how long does a cannabis high last exactly?’ The answer varies depending on multiple factors which could determine the appropriate reason behind different durations of effects amongst cannabis users taking similar doses at similar times”, they further added.
Why do the effects from edibles last longer?
Researchers from the 2021 study highlight significant differences between the impacts of ingested THC (via taking edibles) and inhaled THC. The fact is commonly known that the effects of inhaling THC are normally felt within minutes while an edible takes some time to digest before you feel any effects. The research has found that not only do edibles take longer to feel in the human body but their impacts also affect you for a longer period of time.
McCartney and his companion researchers have determined that vaping or smoking 20 mgs of THC causes a window of impairment for approximately 4 hours. While ingesting the same amount via an edible, such as a cannabis chocolate or beverage, could cause effects lasting up to 8 hours – almost double.
Potent edibles could lead to longer lasting effects
“The outcomes gathered from the research indicate that the window of impairment could last up to an extended 10 hours if the doses of THC have been inhaled or consumed orally”, says McCartney, at the Lambert initiative for Cannabinoid Therapeutics with an Australian University. The more exact duration, however, could be 4 hours, when THC doses have been administered via smoking or vaping.
The effects can range from feelings of relaxation, mirthfulness, or creativity – might extend up to 6 and 7 hours if slightly higher doses of THC are used.
The study, however, suggests 10 mgs of THC to be an ideally moderate dosage. But this is for a regular customer and not an occasional one, further clarifies the research.
Regular cannabis consumers might show less impairment compared to occasional users
Most cannabis enthusiasts understand that regular consumption may create a level of tolerance inside their bodies for the cannabinoids being inhaled or ingested from outside sources such as cannabis. This fact has been confirmed by the research conducted by the group of researchers from Sydney University, headed by McCartney.
Dr. Thomas Arkell, co-author of the research states that, “the window of impairment is much more predictable amongst occasional cannabis users in comparison to the regular cannabis consumers. This is because regular consumers showcase higher tolerance levels towards the effects and impacts caused by a THC dosage.”
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