7 Weird Side Effects Of Getting High, Explained
If you’ve ever consumed cannabis, then you probably don’t need me to tell you there are some wonderful and weird side effects of getting high. After just a few puffs, bites, or drops of your favorite flower, edible, or tincture, sweet Mary Jane starts working her magic; and you’ll just have to decide for yourself if the potential for weird side effects is worth the potential for wonderful ones.
First things first: to understand how cannabis affects us, it’s important to know that humans are born with cannabinoid receptors. These live on the surfaces of cells and are responsible for communicating changing conditions outside of the cell to the inner cell, thus instigating cellular responses. As the cannabis culture site Leafly explained, the main cannabinoid receptors CB1 and CB2 are responsible for the high you get from THC, and both receptors exist in various parts of your body. But the effect isn’t necessarily identical for every single person вЂ” in other words, people can experience different side effects or varying degrees of benefits.
To help explain the impacts weed can have on your body, Bustle spoke with Dr. Jordan Tishler, MD, an expert on cannabis therapeutics and holistic care. Here are seven side effects of getting high, explained:
1. Cotton Mouth
As an article from TruthOnPot explains, “cotton mouth” happens when a cannabinoid like THC binds itself to the receptor of our submandibular glands, (a pair of glands located on the floor of our mouths which produce about 70 percent of our saliva). Then, it causes them to stop receiving the messages from our parasympathetic nervous system which would normally tell them to make more saliva.
Dr. Tishler notes that even though you might feel thirsty after consuming cannabis, that doesn’t necessarily mean you’re dehydrated. “For those who have heart or kidney disease, overdoing water intake can be dangerous, so they should be warned to take sips, not large drinks,” he says.
2. Increased Heart Rate
Now, when it comes to cannabis and heart rate, Dr. Tishler says there are two important factors at work here. “First cannabis via the CB1 receptor has a direct stimulatory effect on heart rate,” Dr. Tishler explains. “Also, it causes decreased vascular resistance which leads to lower blood pressure. When blood pressure drops, it calls for increased heart rate to compensate.” He says for most people the increase in heart rate is mild and not particularly noticeable. But if you can feel your heart rate quickening, he suggests dialing the dose back. As WebMd noted in a recently updated article, your heart usually beats between 50 and 70 times per minute. However, that can increase to 70 to 120 beats per minutes after smoking weed.
If you’re dealing with established cardiovascular issues, however, you should take this side effect more seriously. “In patients with either coronary artery disease or congestive heart failure, the increased rate can be dangerous,” Dr. Tishler says. ” . This can lead to chest pain, shortness of breath, and in worst case, a heart attack.” He makes it clear that this is rare, but serious.
3. Possible Erectile Dysfunction
Erectile Dysfunction may not directly affect you if you don’t have a penis вЂ” and having a penis shouldn’t keep you from safely and legally consuming cannabis if you want to вЂ” but you should know that it might be a possibility. “Men, more than women, are very dose dependent when it comes to the effects of cannabis on sexuality,” Dr. Tishler says. Still, some of the existing studies on erectile dysfunction and marijuana use are contradictory and require further research.
4. Potentially Increased Tolerance
According to a 2014 study performed by Washington State University Psychologist Rebecca Craft and published in the journal, Drug and Alcohol Dependence, female rats are more likely to develop a tolerance to cannabis than males. The female rats in Craft’s study were also more sensitive to the painkilling qualities of cannabis than the males, and were the most sensitive around ovulation. That said, Dr. Tishler remains unconvinced by the available data on weed’s painkilling effects for men vs. women. “There is some evidence that women may need a higher dose than men for pain control, but I have not seen this in practice, nor was I convinced that the studies were accurate,” he says.
5. Increased Appetite
Even weed virgins have probably heard that getting stoned will make you super hungry, but what’s weird about this side effect is why cannabis consumption sometimes makes us feel like single-handedly eating whole pizzas and mountains of mac and cheese.
In a recent study conducted by experts at Washington State University, it was found that dosing rats with cannabis stimulates a surge of ghrelin вЂ” a hormone the stomach releases when it’s empty which tells the brain it’s time to look for food. Additionally, as a 2015 study published in the journal Nature found, our cannabinoid receptors have a relationship with the pro-opiomelanocortin (POMC) neurons that live in the hypothalamus, and these neurons control appetite stimulation. So when people consume cannabis, those neurons are activated and it causes you to become hungry.
That said, Dr. Tishler tells Bustle he doesn’t think we have a good answer yet regarding exactly why the munchies happen post-dose. “ItвЂ™s clear that cannabis interacts with receptors in the hypothalamus, which is the area that controls satiety,” Dr. Tishler says. “Beyond that, we just donвЂ™t know.”
Laughing is not only super fun, it’s literally good for you. And one of the most pleasurable (and weird) side effects of getting stoned is how much it might make you laugh вЂ” but while I can say with absolute certainty that cannabis has always stimulated my giggle box, Dr. Tishler points out the side effect isn’t necessarily universal. “It may accentuate peopleвЂ™s innate giggliness or their baseline mood, but uncontrolled laughter is not a universal phenomenon,” he says.
Unfortunately most of the studies on cannabis and laughter are over a decade old, but research on the topic does exist. One such study, for example, found that cannabis activates blood flow to the right frontal and left temporal lobes of the brain, both of which are associated with laughter. Plus, laughter is contagious, so if you’re smoking with friends and they start giggling, it makes sense that you’ll probably start giggling as well.
7. Slower Perception Of Time
Like every single stoned scene from any movie or TV show will tell you, getting high tends to slow things down вЂ” and it can actually be quite relaxing, because it forces us to slow down, too. Dr. Tishler tells Bustle we’re still learning about why this happens, but it likely has something to do with the hypothalamus. “The hypothalamus is again involved in some of our time-keeping apparatus, so the interaction is likely there, but why and how are still unexplored,” Dr. Tishler says.
According to a 1998 study, marijuana alters blood flow to our cerebellum (the part of the brain that regulates muscle activity), and the cerebellum is linked to our body’s timing system. More recently, a study published in Psychopharmacology found that вЂ” when compared with sober participants вЂ” participants who consumed cannabis overestimated time by as much as 25%.
Koch, M., Varela, L., Kim, J. G., Kim, J. D., HernГЎndez-NuГ±o, F., Simonds, S. E., вЂ¦ Horvath, T. L. (2015). Hypothalamic POMC neurons promote cannabinoid-induced feeding. Nature. https://www.nature.com/articles/nature14260
Mathew, R. J., Wilson, W. H., Turkington, T. G., & Coleman, R. E. (1998). Cerebellar activity and disturbed time sense after THC. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/9666122
Sewell, R. A., Schnakenberg, A., Elander, J., Radhakrishnan, R., Williams, A., Skosnik, P. D., вЂ¦ D’Souza, D. C. (2013). Acute effects of THC on time perception in frequent and infrequent cannabis users. Retrieved from https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3581701/
Sneider, J. T., Pope, H. G., Silveri, M. M., Simpson, N. S., Gruber, S. A., & Yurgelun-Todd, D. A. (2006). Altered regional blood volume in chronic cannabis smokers. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/17115869
Society for the Study of Ingestive Behavior. (2018). How cannabis affects appetite: Brain changes. ScienceDaily. www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2018/07/180717094747.htm
Wakley, A. A., Wiley, J. L., & Craft, R. M. (2014). Sex differences in antinociceptive tolerance to delta-9-tetrahydrocannabinol in the rat. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4161674/
Jordan Tishler MD; President, CMO inhaleMD; President, Association of Cannabis Specialists. https://inhalemd.com/about-us/
This article was originally published on Oct. 14, 2015
If you’ve ever consumed cannabis, then you probably don’t need me to tell you there are some wonderful and weird side effects of getting high. After just a few puffs, bites, or drops of your favorite flower, edible, or tincture, sweet Mary JaneвЂ¦
How Long Does a Cannabis High Last?
A cannabis high can last anywhere from 2 to 10 hours, depending on a range of factors.
- how much you consume
- how much tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) it contains
- your body weight and body fat percentage
- your metabolism
- whether or not you’ve eaten
- your tolerance
Cannabis contains more than 113 chemical compounds called cannabinoids. Delta-9 tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) is one of those cannabinoids, and it’s the ingredient responsible for making you feel high.
Here’s a closer look at the timeline of a delta-9 THC high and tips for cutting things short.
How quickly you feel the effects mostly depends on your method of use:
- Smoking or vaping. You can begin to feel the effects of cannabis within 2 to 10 minutes. It kicks in quickly because it enters your bloodstream via your lungs within minutes of inhaling it.
- Eating. Your digestive system metabolizes pot when you eat it, which can take a while. Edibles usually kick in within 30 to 60 minutes, but can sometimes take as long as 2 hours.
- Dabbing. With this method, a highly concentrated form of marijuana is smoked through a special pipe. Dabs have a higher THC content than other forms of cannabis, so the high kicks in almost instantly.
How long the effects last can vary greatly depending on the dose and potency. The more you use and the higher the THC content, the longer the effects will stick around.
How you consume cannabis also affects when the effects peak and how long they last.
Here’s a breakdown, according to Drugs and Me, a site by the Mental Health Education Foundation:
- Smoking or vaping. The effects peak around 10 minutes after consumption and typically last 1 to 3 hours, though they can linger for up to 8 hours.
- Eating. The effects of edibles usually peak around 2 hours after consumption and can last up to 24 hours.
- Dabbing. Similar to smoking, the effects of dabbing usually last 1 to 3 hours. If using a high THC concentrate, you could feel the effects for an entire day.
Cannabis hits everyone differently, so while your high may only last for a couple of hours, you could potentially feel the comedown or aftereffects for several hours or through the next day. It’s best to go low and slow if you’re new to cannabis.
If you need to cut things short, there are a few things you can try.
Keep in mind that these tips are designed to reduce the effects, not eliminate them altogether. That means you’ll likely still experience lingering effects, including a reduced reaction time, so you’ll still want to avoid driving.
Here are a few pointers based on anecdotal evidence and some research:
- Take a nap. Sleeping can help you relax if your high has you feeling anxious or paranoid. It also gives your body time to process and eliminate the cannabis. You’ll likely wake up feeling refreshed and more alert after a few winks.
- Try some black pepper. There’s some evidence that caryophyllene, a compound in peppercorn, increases the sedative effects of THC, which could calm you. Just take a container of black pepper and have a sniff without inhaling it. Chewing on a couple of whole peppercorns also works.
- Eat some pine nuts. Some research shows that pinene, a compound in pine nuts, has a calming effect and improves clarity. Skip this method if you have a tree nut allergy, though.
- Try some CBD. Yep, it may sound counterintuitive, but CBD may counteract the effects of THC. Like THC, cannabidiol (CBD) is a cannabinoid. The difference is the receptors in your brain that they interact with. THC causes the high you get from cannabis, but CBD has a calming effect that may help dull your high.
- Have some lemon peel. Lemons, especially the peel, contain compounds that have a calming effect. In theory, ingesting some lemon peel could counteract some of the psychoactive effects of THC and help you come down. Try steeping some in hot water for a few minutes, then remove them and take some sips.
If you’re looking for a longer-lasting high, consider sticking with edibles. They take longer to kick in, but the effects will hang around longer, which can be a big help if you’re using cannabis for medical purposes.
You could also re-dose or try a higher THC strain for a longer high, but know that you’ll also have to deal with more intense effects. For a seasoned consumer, this is probably not a big deal, but a newbie may find the effects of a bigger dose to be a bit much.
There are some anecdotal methods for extending your high on the Internet, like eating mango, but there’s no evidence to back any of these.
Some websites recommend drinking alcohol with cannabis to extend your high, but it isn’t the best idea.
Drinking before using cannabis — even just one drink — can heighten the effects of THC. This combo can cause some folks to “green out” and experience some pretty unpleasant symptoms, including:
- increased impairment
This combo doesn’t work great in the other direction, either. Using cannabis before drinking can minimize the effects of alcohol, meaning you’ll feel less drunk than you are. This makes it easy to get overly intoxicated.
Plus, using cannabis and alcohol together may increase your risk of dependence on one or both substances.
Find out how long it takes for weed’s effects to kick in and how long they last. We’ve also got tips for cutting things short or extending them.