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‘Lockdown boredom led me to smoke more weed’

By Mona McAlinden
BBC Scotland

Like most of us at the beginning of lockdown, Reece had big plans about what he and his partner would do with the extra time.

They were going to paint the decking and the house as well as upholstering the furniture.

“Now, 10 weeks later, we’ve given up doing that,” he told BBC Scotland’s Unlocked podcast.

As hairdressers, the couple have gone from full-time employment to being at home all day every day.

Boredom soon started to creep in and that brought with it some lifestyle changes.

“Before lockdown we’d have a couple of joints around the weekend,” he said. “After lockdown it was becoming every day.

“We used to wait until about 8 o’clock at night. But then it got to one o’clock, three o’clock in the afternoon and we thought, ‘should we be smoking it this early?’.

“But then we thought ‘there’s nothing else to do, we’re stuck in the house, so why not?’.”

Reece said: “I’ve noticed that I’ve even started putting more weed in my joints so it’s basically all just pure marijuana now.”

Reece’s experience in not unique.

Coping mechanism

Since lockdown began, the Edinburgh-based charity Crew 2000 has surveyed hundreds of recreational drug users. More than 50% have reported drinking and taking drugs more often, and in bigger quantities, than before the pandemic.

The drugs which have had the biggest upsurge in usage are cannabis, cocaine and alcohol.

The charity’s Kira Weir said: “A lot of that was to do with boredom. For example, with cannabis, people say they’re smoking more because they had more time on their hands, and actually they saw it as a way to de-stress; they saw it as some ‘me time’.

“Other people mentioned that it was because of isolation, because they’ve lost their other support networks, and for some people they saw it as a coping mechanism.”

As well as higher and more solo usage, the survey also reported changes to the drugs market since the Covid-19 outbreak, including price rises, shortages and lower purity.

Kira added: “What we can see as well though is that the drug market’s been quite adaptable.

“A lot of people report that a lot of sales have moved online, to crypto markets or social media. Whereas they would normally be buying things face to face, around 30% of our respondents have now moved online.”

For Reece, it’s just as easy to get cannabis now as it was before lockdown. It’s a socially distant transaction, with his dealer leaving it in a safe place outside his home and the payment made by bank transfer.

But he said he and his partner are now trying to rein in how much they’re using.

“We’re still smoking most days of the week but we’re trying to limit how much we smoke,” he said.

“We’re basically rationing it out, because we’ve not been working for 10 weeks so we need to ration.”

Crew 2000’s survey suggests the majority of recreational drug users are also drinking more. It’s a post-lockdown development that Reece can relate to.

He said: “We got a new house last year and the alcohol that people had got us from Christmases before, and for moving in – it all just sat there. We probably put our glass recycling bin out twice in six months.

“And it’s been out near enough every single week since lockdown’s come on.

“We usually drink on a Monday, Tuesday, not the weekend, but I think that’s just because you still get that Monday feeling.”

Patterns established

Katy Macleod from the Scottish Drugs Forum said: “When we start thinking about triggers for drug use, boredom is definitely one feature. With the temptation of it, you can see why young people would probably use a bit more than they planned.

“Drug services have had to adapt in the current climate – there are things like Skype counselling, FaceTime and phone support, which makes it easier for some young people to access services because that’s how they might be comfortable interacting.”

Kira from Crew 2000 said its Edinburgh drop-in service has now moved online.

“We’ve got a digital drop-in that can be accessed via our website,” she said.

Kira said people might need support during a period of re-adjustment when lockdown ends, because patterns of drinking and taking recreational drugs as a coping mechanism might be difficult to shift.

She said: “If anybody feels that they want to get some support around drugs, particularly around cannabis and cocaine – those are the main drugs that we deal with – we can offer distanced counselling at this time.”

After lockdown, Reece plans to return to how he used to use cannabis.

“It’s going to be a total adjustment going from doing absolutely nothing during lockdown to going back to work,” he said.

“So things will have to change. I need to be back at work.”

Reece had big plans for his time during lockdown but instead he has found himself smoking drugs.

How long does a weed high last?

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Contents

  1. The science behind how long a high lasts: everyone is different
  2. How long does a marijuana high last?
  3. What does being high feel like?
  4. How much weed does it take to get high?
  5. How you feel vs. the weed in your system
  6. How to bring down your high?
  7. How to increase the length of your high

Cannabis serves a wide variety of purposes in the modern world, with new medicinal uses and products appearing every day. But for the majority of marijuana users who come to the plant recreationally, the goal is still to experience the cannabis high.

Marijuana highs can facilitate a wide variety of sensory and psychological effects, including mild reverie, euphoria, increased sensory awareness, and some therapeutic benefits. But if you’re a new or less experienced user, you’d want to know: How long does a high last? What duration are you committing to when you smoke a bowl, eat an edible, or take a dab?

Marijuana highs can facilitate a wide variety of sensory and psychological effects, including mild reverie, euphoria, increased sensory awareness, and some therapeutic benefits. Photo by: Gina Coleman/Weedmaps

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The science behind how long a high lasts: everyone is different

Much of your reaction to cannabis, whether it be therapeutic or the duration of the high it produces, will depend on your own biological makeup. Different types or strains of cannabis can produce different effects. One variety may produce a more intense high, or one that lasts longer than another. But the same plant can also produce different effects in others.

Out bodies interact with cannabis by way of the endocannabinoid system (ECS) — the series of receptors, lipids, and enzymes that help the body maintain internal balance and regulate several bodily functions. When cannabinoids, compounds indigenous to the cannabis plant such as THC and cannabidiol (CBD) , interact with the body, they produce an effect by binding to cannabinoid receptors, where they are then broken down by enzymes. Our cannabinoid receptors have genetic variations from person to person, which in turn can alter the effects of cannabis , including the duration of intoxication.

How long does a marijuana high last?

So, how long does weed last? There are several factors that determine the answer to this question, but the primary driver on the cannabis high duration is the method of cannabis consumption. Your own biological makeup, along with the chemical makeup of the cannabis you’re ingesting, will also determine how long a cannabis high and potential side effects will last. That being said, the rate of THC blood saturation through to the eventual expungement of THC from the body provides a general window of duration in most people, which varies depending on how cannabis is being ingested.

When smoking cannabis, the onset of the high is nearly immediate and THC levels peak within the first 30 minutes to an hour after inhalation. The high from smoked marijuana can last up to several hours, though the intensity will generally decrease after the first hour or so.

Cannabis edibles are a whole different story. As edibles are absorbed through the digestive system and THC is metabolized through the liver, it takes anywhere from 20 minutes to 3 hours for the onset of effects. Depending on the amount of THC consumed, the amount of time an edible high can last upwards of 9 hours, with the peak generally lasting from 1 to 3 hours.

When dabbing concentrates , the onset of effects is also nearly immediate, but the duration depends largely on individual tolerance. Those who dab high-THC concentrates often may feel the effects wearing off within 1 to 2 hours, while someone entirely new to dabbing may be wiped out for the day.

When dabbing concentrates, the onset of effects is also nearly immediate, but the duration depends largely on individual tolerance. Photo by: Gina Coleman/Weedmaps

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What does being high feel like?

The specific qualities of a cannabis high will change over time, regardless of the form you take. Similarly to how long a weed high will last, you can expect the specific qualities of a high to change from person to person, and from cultivar to cultivar. Most cannabis cultivars bring with them a general list of qualities that most people experience from them, from hunger to cerebral stimulation, or creativity to couch lock.

Some cultivars will quash anxiety, while others will increase anxiety. As the high wears down, the more euphoric aspects typically wane and sleepiness replaces them. Again, all of these effects depend on the chemical makeup of a given cultivar, as well as your genes.

How much weed does it take to get high?

The amount of weed needed to feel high also depends on several variables. THC is the intoxicating component of cannabis, and though other cannabinoids play a role in either contributing to or enhancing the cannabis high, the THC percentage of a cannabis product will impact how long you’ll be high when you consume it. However, the method of consumption is an even bigger determining factor. For example, the effects of eating a 50 milligram edible will last longer than smoking a 0.5 gram joint with 20% THC.

THC percentages don’t tell the whole story, but they do provide a general idea of what a user should expect with flower or concentrate products. In the case of edibles, instead of THC percentage, the key factor to potency is the quantity of THC in the product, which is typically measured in milligrams.

How you feel vs. the weed in your system

How long you stay high and how long weed stays in your system are two very different things. As drug tests are looking for THC metabolites, it can take upwards of a month for the compounds to completely leave your system, depending on body mass index (BMI), metabolism, frequency of use, the potency of the product, and genetics.

How to bring down your high?

If you’re experiencing a particularly intense high, it’s important to remember that it shall pass, and cannabis is non-toxic. No deaths from a marijuana overdose have ever been reported. For those who want or need to come down from a particularly intense high as quickly as possible, there are several tactics that may prove effective, such as taking very deep breaths, ingesting black pepper , hydrating, taking a cold shower , and consuming CBD oil , which may be able to counteract the intoxicating effects of THC by way of the entourage effect.

How to increase the length of your high

The higher the amount of THC, the less cannabis needed to achieve a high. If you want to know how to increase the length of your high , you can either smoke weed again, opt for the longer-lasting intoxicating effects of an edible, or consume cannabis products with higher levels of THC.

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