Here’s What Really Affects Your Cannabis High

While individual expectations will vary, no one indulges in cannabis hoping for a bad time. So which factors set you up for a great experience — and which don’t?  Whether you’re going for something mellow and relaxing, energizing and productive, serious cerebral action, or a head-to-toe thing, the best way to dial in those effects is by understanding what’s actually going on when you consume. Here’s what really affects your cannabis high.


The cannabinoid profile is the simplest way to predict how a potential high will play out. If you’re opting for high amounts of THC, you know you can probably expect side effects like dry mouth, dry eyes, crazy munchies, general sleepiness, and maybe even pronounced lethargy. If you’re dealing with high amounts of CBD, you can expect major pain relief and little to no intoxication. So what’s your goal? By zeroing in on the cannabinoid profile and letting that guide your choice of strain, you can control expected effects.

Don’t overlook terpenes. These aromatic compounds are what give cannabis its complex range of flavors and fragrances. But beyond that, they’re believed to strongly influence the overall impact of a strain. Research is suggesting that specific terpenes may boost cannabinoids, leading to a more nuanced experience. Fancy, right?


We say it over and over — when it comes to cannabis, you’ll never go wrong if you start low and go slow. Toeing the line between a really great time and a hellish experience is highly personal, so a little trial and error is usually in order. Keep in mind that delivery method absolutely affects the ease of dosing, so you should factor for that going in. Pro tip — homemade pot brownies may be tricky to dose.


Delivery method will also play a role in the effects you feel. That’s because the body processes cannabis differently depending on whether it’s ingested, taken sublingually, smoked, or used topically. In other words, don’t expect a pleasant head high after slathering on an infused lotion.


Personal tolerance is just that — personal. Your own body chemistry, your consumption habits, and your consumption history all play a role, but interestingly, so might your age. Some animal studies are suggesting a link between age and cannabis tolerance.


One of the less obvious factors influencing your cannabis high is the setting, or where you choose to indulge. But the more you think about it, the more sense it makes. Your surroundings have a direct impact on our comfort levels, and can amplify or reduce responses like anxiety or relaxation. Opting for indulging somewhere you feel comfortable is going to set the stage for a far better experience.


A great budtender can make all kinds of recommendations about things like delivery methods, dosing, and strains. So be direct about what you’re hoping to achieve, and maybe dish a little on your personal cannabis history. The more you budtender knows about your relationship to cannabis and your desired outcome, the better able they are to steer you in the right direction.

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