| April 27, 2020 | Lifestyle
As any cannabis consumer can attest, if there’s one feeling no one enjoys, it’s being too high. It can happen to anyone: maybe you took too big a hit trying to impress some friends, maybe the edible kicked in three hours late after you’d already eaten another thinking they weren’t working. Maybe you tried concentrates for the first time and underestimated their potency, or maybe you just have a lower tolerance than most. Whatever the cause, the result is the same: you’re in a whole other world, uncomfortably high, and feeling like you’re never coming down.
First of all, follow the immortal advice of Douglas Adams’ Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy and DON’T PANIC! Nearly every cannabis consumer has been there at one point or another, and we’re all still here to tell the tale. To date, cannabis overdose has resulted in exactly zero deaths. As miserable as you may feel, you aren’t going to die. The next several minutes to several hours may be quite the journey, but you’ll be around to tell about it when it’s all over. First, we’ll discuss some ways to avoid getting to that “too high” point. Then we’ll present some potential strategies that may provide some relief after you’ve already crossed that threshold.
Table of contents
How to Smoke without Getting too High
Whether you’ve found yourself past a point of seemingly no return with cannabis in the past, or are new and trying to avoid that “too high” feeling altogether, knowing your limits is key to maintaining a pleasant cannabis experience. As with any other mind-altering substance, cannabis’ effects increase with dosage, and taking too much can produce undesirable sensations. Knowing how to consciously consume cannabis and recognize your personal limits can keep you from reaching that dreaded “never coming down” feeling in the first place.
Conscious Consumption: How Not To Get Too High
First, an important note on selecting a strain: studies have shown that CBD, the non-psychoactive component of cannabis, can help negate the negative sensations that THC, the psychoactive component, can cause in some users. When starting out (or if you commonly experience paranoia or anxiety as a side-effect of cannabis), try selecting a strain that is relatively high in CBD and lower in THC. This may help you experience the positive effects of the herb without the intense negative side-effects.
We recommend starting by smoking the flower, vaporizing flower or cannabis concentrate, or using cannabis tinctures, as these methods allow you to consume cannabis in smaller increments, letting you fine-tune your dose until you find an amount that suits you. Consuming cannabis through one of these methods also allows it to take effect more quickly, which in turn allows you to more accurately discern how much and which of the effects you are feeling.
For this same reason, we suggest holding off on using edibles until you have a better idea of your tolerance level. This is because edibles tend to take much longer to take effect than cannabis consumed through the mucous membranes of the lungs or mouth, making it more difficult to detect when you’ve had enough. Every edible cannabis consumer has a story about eating one (or several) too many edibles and suffering from the dreaded “couch lock” that comes with the intense physical high they produce.
If and when you do decide to try edibles, go for an option from a dispensary that lists the dosage on the packaging. If you’re making them at home, you can manipulate the potency to find a dose that suits you but isn’t overpowering. A good rule of thumb when trying edibles, especially as a beginner, is to start with one serving (usually 10mg THC), then wait three hours before consuming more. While three hours may sound extreme, edibles can take a very long time to “kick in,” differing greatly even in the same person. For this reason, they carry a higher overconsumption risk and should be used with caution.
You may choose to consume cannabis concentrates, such as dabs or shatter. Like edibles, these forms of cannabis require extra caution, as it’s easy to over consume without realizing it. While you may be consuming cannabis with a friend who dabs regularly or takes massive hits of shatter on a daily basis, you are under no obligation to keep up with them! Start with a small amount, then give it at least 15 minutes to take effect before you consume more, especially if it’s your first time. You can always take more, but a large dab is enough to knock even the most seasoned cannabis consumer temporarily senseless, so exercise caution.
Know Your Limits
Unfortunately, the key to not getting too high is to, well, not get too high! This doesn’t sound helpful on its surface, but hear us out: in order to avoid getting too high, you need to know your limits. This means you need to know how much cannabis you need to consume to produce the effects you desire without going overboard.
It takes experience, and a little experimentation, to find the dose that’s right for you. If you’re just starting to use cannabis, start small and work your way up to a larger dose. The principle works the same as with any other substance: you can always take more, but you can’t un-smoke that last joint or negate that extra edible once it’s in your system.
Alcohol and Cannabis
Now, let’s discuss cannabis use in conjunction with alcohol. Alcohol has been shown to enhance the effects of cannabis, making your cannabis high significantly more intense and combining with the effects of the alcohol to produce undesirable side-effects. For cannabis consumers who have “cross-faded” like this, the feeling of vertigo, often resulting in nausea (commonly known as “the spins”), is a familiar and wholly unpleasant feeling.
Because even small doses of alcohol can drastically influence your blood-THC levels, it’s best to stick to one beer, cocktail, or glass of wine when consuming cannabis in conjunction with alcohol. Wait an hour, and then consume another drink if you desire. It’s always better to pace yourself than to find you’ve gone too hard too quickly, especially in social situations, especially in social situations such as parties or festivals.
Coming Back: When You’ve Gone Too Far
The first and most important step to bringing yourself back to a comfortable space is to hydrate yourself. Water is obviously best, but herbal (or decaffeinated) tea, sports drinks, and other beverages will do in a pinch—whatever it takes to get you to consume fluids. Note that this rule does not extend to alcohol, as it will only enhance the already intense effects of the cannabis in your system. Sugary and caffeinated beverages should also be avoided, as they tend to act as diuretics, dehydrating you in the long term.
Do you have “the munchies?” Cannabis can often make us feel hungry, and consuming a light snack may help you feel less impaired. Fruits, nuts, vegetables, and cheeses are all good choices to satisfy your cravings while nourishing your body. It may not be a good idea to eat a heavy meal, as this can induce feelings of sluggishness, drowsiness, and potentially nausea.
It’s a good idea to keep some black peppercorns on hand—many long-time cannabis consumers swear by this trick. Chewing on a few peppercorns, or even sniffing some ground black pepper, may provide some relief if you find you’ve overindulged. The science behind it is fairly simple: the terpenes in the black pepper bind to the same receptors that cannabinoids do, resulting in a synergistic effect that yields feelings of calm. This means that black pepper could help you mitigate feelings of anxiety or paranoia that can result from getting too high.
If you’re still feeling uncomfortably “elevated,” now is a good time to find a place to rest for a while. Dim the lights, find a soft blanket to curl up with, give yourself all the pillows you need—whatever you need to do to make yourself completely comfortable. If you’re experiencing “the spins,” you can try placing one foot on the floor to help “ground” yourself; many cannabis consumers find that this helps stave off feelings of vertigo. Once you’re situated, just relax. You may find you drift off to sleep, or you may not. Take a nap if you can; you might wake up a bit groggy, but you’ll feel much better. If you find you can’t sleep, don’t fret. Just rest, and rise when you feel you’re ready.
As we discussed briefly earlier, there is some evidence to suggest that CBD can counteract the effects of THC, particularly the negative effects. If you order CBD oil tinctures, you might consider taking a dose (most are consumed sublingually and absorbed by the mucous membranes of the mouth, so they act relatively quickly) and seeing how you feel over the next fifteen minutes or so. For instantaneous relief, you could try inhaling from a CBD vaporizer cartridge or dabbing some 99% CBD Isolate. Worst case scenario, you won’t feel any different from before—CBD is non-psychoactive, meaning it can’t possibly get you any higher than you already are.
Restlessness: When You Can’t Sleep It Off
Sometimes cannabis gives us energy, and that energy needs to be directed someplace. That’s okay! Taking a walk can provide the release you need, grounding you in the present and refocusing your mind. Most cannabis consumers will agree that a walk in a natural setting is more peaceful than walking through a crowded square or street, which can aggravate feelings of paranoia and self-consciousness. Find a park or quiet trail to walk if you can, though just getting some fresh air by stepping onto a patio or into a backyard may do you some good.
Perhaps it’s raining or otherwise unpleasant outside (cold weather, in particular, can be especially insufferable when you’re too high). That’s okay, you still have plenty of options! The goal is to take your mind off how high you feel. Take a bubble bath or a shower and enjoy the heightened sensation, as well as the relaxation. Draw how you’re feeling, or grab a coloring book and settle in for a bit. Cuddle your significant other or your pet, or talk with your friends (who are hopefully right beside you, encouraging you that everything is going to be okay).
If you’re by yourself, you can use media options to pass the time while you “come down.” Play a video game and get “zoned in” for as long as you please. Listen to a favorite album while sitting in your favorite chair. Watch something that makes you laugh (I mean really laugh), and enjoy the endorphin rush. Put on a nature or space documentary if you’d rather contemplate a little while enjoying striking and evocative visuals, or a cooking show for a little culinary inspiration: you can make yourself something delicious, being as creative as you please! By redirecting your attention, you can change your perception of your high long enough to get through it.
Tips for Before You Smoke
As firm believers in the beneficial wellness properties of cannabis, we put together this little guide to help you make the most of your next smoking session by staying calm, smoking smart, and embracing the high.
Eat before you Smoke
Much like you wouldn’t go out for a bachelor party in Las Vegas without eating prior to the booze-filled festivities, we recommend having some food in your stomach before smoking (this holds especially true if you decide to eat an edible). THC spikes your metabolism. What does that mean exactly? Well, your blood sugar will drop, and essentially the longer you haven’t eaten, the higher you’ll get.
A rule of thumb for novice smokers? Avoid edibles—completely. Too often, we hear people say, “Oh, man, it’s been an hour, we don’t feel anything,” and foolishly eat yet another brownie. Next thing they know, the first edible is kicking in, it’s more than enough to get the job done, and the second edible’s waiting in the wings to deliver a knockout blow. If you are going to eat edibles, be sure to check out our THC dosage guide.
Use the Right Cannabis
If you haven’t smoked in a couple decades, don’t hit the joint like it’s mid-80s Mexican brick-weed. Take it slow. The potency levels these days are not to be scoffed at. Also, we recommend starting off with an indica or an indica-heavy hybrid. Sativas offer a more intense mental high that can be off-putting if you aren’t an experienced smoker. Start with an indica, and then move slowly across the spectrum—you might find that while you appreciate the indica body high, a mellower sativa mind trip is preferable (or vice versa). There’s no need to smoke it all at once—take it slow, sample different strains, and don’t necessarily jump right to the top shelf of the dispensary.
Pro-tip: High-CBD strains contain less THC and actually help mitigate the high caused by high-THC strains (most weed). If you find that you are overly sensitive to THC, give a high-CBD strain a try and you’ll be rewarded with a wave of relief.
Use a Pipe, Joint, or Vaporizer
Pipes, joints, and vaporizers make it easier to manage your THC intake. Bong rips can knock you right out, edibles can be stealthy assassins that creep up on you, and dabs are the double black diamonds of the weed world—experts only. When smoking a joint, don’t feel obligated to finish the whole thing; it’s more than acceptable to put it out and save some for later. Same goes for a packed bowl. Start slow, smoke smart, and take it easy. Check out our consumption guide if you’re looking for the right smoking method for you.
Choose the Right Environment
You wouldn’t want to spark up, say, right in front of a police station, right? It’s best to smoke in a locale that’s comfortable and stress-free, like your best friend’s living room. we love to smoke at spots like beaches, concerts, and ski resorts, but when starting out, it’s best not to smoke in public. Keeping it mellow keeps the paranoia at bay.
Indulge with the Right Crowd
Smoking with strangers can be a bit stressful, especially if you’re not used to it. We recommend smoking with close friends who you feel comfortable with, friends who won’t judge you for being a bit silly, falling asleep during a movie, or slathering peanut butter on your Oreos. Having a good relationship with your smoking buddies will only multiply the positive vibes of your experience.
Because of the vast diversity of weed strains and the sheer possibilities when it comes to consumption, remember that your smoking experience has infinite potential. Follow these tips, and you’ll be sure to have a stress-free and fun high.
What to Do When You're Too High
OK—so you’re a little too high. Trust me, we’ve been there before. First things first, you’re not going to die—no one has ever overdosed on weed. That said, being too high can definitely be uncomfortable. Here’s our advice on how to manage your experience, and how to make the most of an extreme high.
Breathe to Stay Calm
Your lungs are your friends. There’s no need to panic. That oxygen is coming through. Close your eyes and breathe deeply. If you can, try a little meditative breathing: inhale through your nose for a slow count of 4 seconds, hold your breath for 3 seconds, and then exhale for 4 seconds.
Repeat this cycle for a few minutes. We borrowed this from a yogic technique and it does wonders if you’ve smoked a little too much weed. Our recommendation? Dim the lights, throw on some mellow music from one of your favorite artists, and practice this breathing technique. Don’t know what music to listen to? Try this roots reggae album from Groundation on for size, it’s super relaxing and one of our favorites.
Limonene (Drink Lemon Water)
You may want a salty snack, but what your body really needs is a simple concoction of lemon and water. One of the few things known to diminish extreme highness is limonene, which is a terpene that minimizes THC’s effects on the brain. Luckily for you, limonene is conveniently found in lemons. Plus, who ever had a problem with a little lemonade?
Sniff a Little Black Pepper
This isn’t a joke, we promise. Black pepper possesses yet another terpene that’s proven to combat weed-based paranoia. It’s a surprising at-home remedy that’s more effective than anything you’ll find at the pharmacy.
Change your Mindset
Whether you’re alone or with a friend doesn’t really matter—YOU possess all of the power to change your mindset. We know it feels like your brain is working overtime, but think of it like this: yes, your mind is firing on all-cylinders. Nothing bad is going to happen. In that case, doesn’t it make sense to take advantage of this powerful mental state? Even if it’s been a while since you’ve explored your artistic side, take out a piece of paper and start to draw or paint. Write a poem, a song, or a letter–maybe even an idea for a screenplay or a novel! Consider the high an opportunity to be creative and try to “let it flow.”
Take a Shower
Taking a shower is a great way to find peace and tranquility. Let the warm water wash away any discomfort you feel. Throw on some music and just vibe out in the meditative steam.
Sometimes having a task to distract you can make you feel better. Go for a hike, ride your bike, walk the dog, play a sport—being active and spending time outside will make you feel alive and may make you appreciate the sensation of being high more so than being inside watching a movie.
Embrace the Experience
Remember, nothing bad is going to happen, and you’re in a place of untapped creative potential. You’re going to be sober soon, but in the meantime… think about your life. What are you doing with your future that excites you? If you could do anything, what would it be? What’s your moonshot? Take a pen and paper or even a voice recorder and explore your mind. You may stumble into your next big idea.
Above all else, remember that your high will eventually end, and absolutely nothing bad is going to happen. And if you want to make sure that next time you don’t smoke or eat too much, check out our dosage guide or figure out what cannabis consumption method is best for you. Hang in there!
Maybe your first smoking experience didn’t go as well as you hoped, or you regularly feel like you get too high. Or, maybe you’ve never smoked before, and want to make your first smoking experience a great one. Either way, we’ve definitely been there. Between advancements in both cultivation techniques and smoking methods, getting extremely high has never been easier. However, it’s also easy to ensure that you have a good time and remain calm—so long as you keep a few simple tips in mind.
Why Does Cannabis Affect Everyone Differently?
If you’ve spent any time in the cannabis community, you’ve probably heard a variety of different cannabis experiences from fellow users. Not only are there vast numbers of different strains that produce different effects, each individual strain can have widely different effects across different patients, even at the same dose. How can this be? Fortunately, scientific analysis of the effects of cannabis yields some potential reasons for these differing levels and types of experiences among users.
To begin, it is important to note that many pharmaceutical drugs, each carefully manufactured, dosed, and administered, can still produce widely different effects across patients. From opioid painkillers to psychotropic drugs to sleep aids, everyone reacts to medications differently. This does not preclude these drugs from being widely used and prescribed by physicians for a variety of conditions, and we accept that we may have to work with our physician to find the right dosage and medication, or combination of medications, to make us well.
Cannabis is no different in that we should not expect it to act uniformly across our varied, complex, vastly intricate systems. As with any substance with medicinal properties, different people with different biology will respond to it in different ways. This knowledge naturally leads us to the conclusion that different people should consume cannabis differently, if they elect to consume it at all; however, it does not demonstrate that cannabis is inherently dangerous in any way.
Here, we’ll discuss several factors that can influence the way cannabis is processed by the body, thereby changing the effects it produces. While some of them are a little high-tech (I don’t expect most of us will run out and have ourselves genotyped, after all), we hope that they’ll provide some potential insight into your own cannabis experience.
There is no single reason that cannabis affects any one person differently from another. Scientists have found over 113 compounds within the cannabis plant, and due to the difficulty involved in performing research (thanks to the continued Schedule I status of cannabis at the federal level), our understanding of its effects and the mechanisms behind them remains sorely limited. Much more research is necessary to fully account for the subtle differences in the ways our bodies process cannabinoids, but this article helps give you a starting point.
Genetics and Cannabis Effect
According to a study conducted in 2013, the long-term effects of cannabis are determined in part by your genes. The study took 83 cannabis smokers and 58 people who did not use any drugs, genotyped each subject (essentially, coming up with each subject’s genetic “blueprint” in order to determine genetic differences between subjects) and tested them in a variety of cognitive functions.
Interestingly, the study found no statistically significant correlation between lifetime cannabis consumption and long-term decline of executive function (the action that takes place in the frontal lobe of your brain and helps you make decisions), counter to the expectations of the researchers. However, it did find some genetic differences in the way cannabis affects us in the long term.
Researchers analyzed the effects of two genes, COMTval158met and 5-HTTLPR, on sustained attention (a measure of your ability to maintain focus over an extended period) and monitoring/shifting (your ability to keep track of moving objects or components simultaneously). This requires a bit of background science to explain, but don’t glaze over just yet: we’ll get to the interesting stuff shortly.
There are two alleles, or possibly different expressions of the same gene, that you can carry for the COMTval158met gene: val or met. Since you carry two alleles per gene (one inherited from each parent), your genotype, or personal genetic makeup, can either be val/val, met/met, or val/met. Each of these three combinations of alleles produces a different expression of this gene, which influences how cannabis affects us in the long term.
Researchers found that val/val carriers who smoked scored lower in sustained attention than val/val carriers who didn’t smoke, suggesting that val/val carriers might be more susceptible to negative effects of cannabis on the ability to sustain focus.
The study also found that cannabis smokers who carried the val allele (meaning their genotype is val/val or val/met) made more errors in the shifting/monitoring test than did met/met carriers who also smoked. This is interesting because among non-drug users, met/metcarriers tend to do worse in shifting/monitoring than val/val carriers. Cannabis use appears to reverse this trend in the presence of this particular gene expression.
Concerning the 5-HTTLPR gene, the study concluded that “there is also evidence that the proposed link between cannabis use and depression is only present in cannabis users carrying the s/s genotype.” People carrying the s/s expression of this gene, which affects the production of a protein related to the transport of serotonin in the brain, have been shown to have a predisposition toward depression. In these people, cannabis use appears to exacerbate this risk.
Cannabinoid Content: Why It Matters
There is scientific evidence to show what cannabis users have been saying for decades: all strains are not created equal. A study conducted in 2010 examined the combined effects of THC and CBD, the two most prominent cannabinoids in cannabis. They found that CBD has the ability to act as a “blocker” for some of the negative effects of cannabis that can be produced by THC in some users, such as feelings of anxiety.
If you’re someone prone to anxiety or paranoia when you smoke, it may be helpful to try a strain with a relatively high CBD content and lower THC concentration, or to dose with a CBD concentrate before consuming THC. By increasing the amount of CBD, the non-psychoactive component of cannabis, that you consume, you may be able to mitigate or eliminate some of the negative effects of cannabis. Conversely, you should avoid high-THC, low-CBD strains, as these are more likely to produce unwanted side-effects or bring about that uncomfortable, “too high” feeling.
Environment Impacts Cannabis Effect
As far back as 1971, researchers have suggested that the effects experienced by cannabis users is in part dependent on the environment in which it is consumed. This isn’t to say that a cannabis high is “all in your head.” However, consuming cannabis in an environment in which you feel comfortable and at ease, while you are in a good mood, can help you experience more of its positive aspects. Cannabis can act as an amplifier for what you’re feeling, meaning that while a joint or puff off a vape can make a good day even better, you may find yourself going down a “rabbit hole” of negativity or consumed with anxiety if you smoke at the wrong time.
Consuming cannabis at a crowded event may help calm you, but it can also induce paranoia and fear in some users. If you’re new to cannabis, skip that joint at a festival or party and opt for a quiet toke at home with a friend or two (there’s evidence that we have more positive experiences with cannabis when we consume it with others, especially loved ones). Once you’ve gained a bit more experience and have a better idea how cannabis interacts with your system, you can begin to experiment with using it in different situations. Be cautious of dabs and other concentrates, as you may find yourself higher than you intended on relatively little product.
Alternatively: How to Get as High as Possible
It stands to reason that most people who are enthusiasts of the green stuff are keen to increase their high. This article is not for novices, this article is for experienced consumers who are used to feeling a certain way after they smoke and are looking to take the effects to the next level. If you aren’t getting the experience that you’ve been hoping for, here are 5 top tips to get even more out of your cannabis.
Choose Extra High THC Strains
Ok, it’s an obvious tip, but it’s definitely going to work. The average strain only has a THC content of between 12% and 18%, and while that might be adequate for some, it isn’t going to maximize your experience. Look for strains with a higher amount of THC—there are varieties out there with THC levels of over 30%, so shop wisely!
Use Terpenes to Your Advantage
It’s not all about THC percentages, terpene content is arguably just as important. Why? Because terpenes modulate the effects of THCand other cannabinoids in your system. In other words, terpenes interact with the endocannabinoid system to facilitate the onset of your high. Certain terpenes like myrcene will make you feel higher, while others like limonene will act as a mood enhancer. That’s why it’s important to select a strain based on terpene content in addition to overall cannabinoid potency. The terpenes will significantly impact the actual effects you feel with each strain. To better illustrate this point, consider a high-myrcene strain that only tests at 18% THC versus a high-limonene strain testing at 23%–which will get you higher? For most people, the high-myrcene strain will make them feel higher despite having a lower overall THC content—crazy right? You can also blend cannabinoid and terpene profiles by combining strains in a bowl, joint, or vaporizer—the diverse spectrum of psychoactive compounds will induce a more powerful high.
When you smoke cannabis, the THC goes straight to the brain for an instant but short-lived high. On the other hand, if you consume edibles, you’ll find that you’ll have a longer and more intense high. Be warned, it takes longer for edibles to kick in because they have to be processed by your digestive system, but you’ll find the high to be exceptionally more powerful and long lasting. In fact, the psychoactive effects of cannabis are enhanced through the digestive process as THC is converted to the more psychoactive 11-hydroxy-THC by the liver. This compound has more profound psychoactive effects than the original THC. You can also make edibles at home, as strong as you like.
Exercise ramps up your blood flow and releases chemicals like dopamine and adrenaline that make you feel good. THC will enhance these feelings—exercise will also speed up the onset time of your high. A 2013 academic study demonstrated that exercise enhances plasma THC levels in regular cannabis users. Overall, these results suggest that exercise may elevate blood THC levels by releasing dormant THC from fat stores. Need some ideas for your next workout?
Upgrade Your Equipment
You may not be getting the high that you’ve been hoping for because you’re using a poor quality vaporizer. Sub-standard devices don’t fully vaporize your flower, so if you’re determined to take your cannabis experience to the next level, invest in a quality vape. The Mighty Vaporizer is a great choice. This unit is super easy to use, small enough to be portable, and equipped with a powerful convection & conduction heating system. You won’t be disappointed by its battery life, and you can rest assured that you’ll be getting the most out of your high with this tried and tested stalwart of the vaping scene. The Mighty vape is an essential addition to your stash (it comes from the same folks that make the legendary Volcano Vaporizer).
Easier Said Than Done: Tolerance Break
Last but not least, you could take a tolerance break. Although, we didn’t include this as an official tip in the list because it requires you take a break from consuming cannabis altogether—it certainly won’t help you make the most of your current stash.