Being high is a wonderfully enveloping experience that, depending on how you choose to get high, can last anywhere from 2-8 hours. From that first big hit that flows through your body and lets you know the weed was hit, to the munchies, to the gentle sleepiness that slowly takes over, it can be an intensely euphoric experience. But despite the fact that we clearly experience different sensations as the weed moves through our system, many folks don’t know that there are actually seven stages of being high.
The internet is full of opinions on the stages of being high with some people claiming there are only four to others listing up to ten, and even more describing each stage depending on how much you’ve consumed – which to be clear, describes how high you are, not what stage of being high you are experiencing. From the onset to the aftermath, let’s take a look at the seven stages of being high and what you can expect from each stage.
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Stage 1: The Onset – Increased Euphoria & Relaxation
The first stage is a favorite for a lot of folks, as it describes the gentle feeling as the psychoactive cannabinoids such as Delta-9 THC, Delta-8 THC, THC-P, HHC, or a combination of them all begin interacting with your endocannabinoid system (ECS). It is marked by a gentle shift in perception and mood with a creeping euphoria and full body relaxation that can help melt away residual negative thoughts or distractions.
We typically feel these feelings within the first few puffs from a joint or vape cartridge. If you are eating edibles such as Gummies or Rice Crispy Treats, it can take a little longer before you feel the effects of this stage, and those differences can be attributed to your method of consumption, with edibles taking longer to reach your ECS than inhalables.
Stage 2: The Ascent – Heightened Creativity
Stage two is when the experience really escalates, with feelings of relaxation, joy, and euphoria taking over your mind. You may find even the simplest things funny or joyful and this stage can be marked b uncontrollable laughter and joy. You may also experience changes in perception that result in a profound appreciation for the world around you, as well as increased creativity and a desire for expression.
Stage 3: The Munchies
The munchies may be one of the most easily identifiable clues that someone has consumed a psychoactive cannabinoid. It turns out, these changes in appetite are triggered when cannabinoids interact with our endocannabinoid receptors causing changes in our perception of the texture and taste of food. This turns ordinary snacks into delicious and sensory experiences.
These perception changes make the experience of eating more pleasurable when we’re high, and many people give in to these cravings without much though. A lack of awareness around eating can be bad for our health though, so it’s a good idea to keep a good variety of healthy snacks in your munchies rotation. Consider choosing healthy snacks that can complement the strain you’re using, like grapes or mangoes.
Stage 4: Full Immersion – Introspection & Deep Thinking
Stage four is where the experience nears its peak. By the time you enter this stage, you’re likely experiencing some pretty significant changes in perception Your mind is in a euphoric and engaged state, ready to follow you wherever your take it. This stage also brings intense relaxation that can leave some people feeling like they’re in a state of suspended animation, gently floating through the world, without much of a care.
Stage 5: Enhanced Physical Sensations & Time Distortion
A key part of the cannabis experience happens in stage five, when many people notice heighted physical sensations. These effects can result in a shift in your perception of time, making moments feel drawn out, allowing you to be more fully present. Unfortunately, at times, these perception changes can become overwhelming and disorienting, leaving users feeling anxious and paranoid. This is one of the big reasons why we always stress the importance of knowing your limits and pacing yourself; you won’t know until stage five, if the experience is too much for you.
Stage 6: The Comedown – Sleepiness & Calm
If the suspension of time in step five made you feel a little overwhelmed, you can rest assured that you won’t feel that way for too long, before stage six starts to take over and calm everything down. The wind down stage is exactly what it sounds like: your cannabis experience is coming to an end, and some of the more intense sensations are starting to fade. This gives way to a gentle tranquility and drowsiness.
You can think of stage six and the bridge between the most intense part of your experience and its peaceful, grounded end. As your body processes the last of the THC, the return to reality is gentle and leaves you feeling better about reality – at least for a little bit – than you did before your sesh.
Stage 7: The Aftermath
The final stage of being high is known as the aftermath. Typically, the aftermath isn’t unpleasant, and leaves you feeling tranquil, reflective, and a little sleepy. Occasionally though, some people don’t feel so great after consuming cannabis and hemp products and being high. Some people may experience headaches, mild irritation, and discomfort, akin to hangover.
These vastly different experiences are all part of how cannabis’ most popular slogan, ‘low and slow,’ came to be. The cannabis experience is unique to each person, and you don’t really know how your mind and body will react until you try it. Trying a small amount and waiting between doses will keep the experience from being overwhelming in case your experience some negative side effects.
There you have it folks, all the stages of being high, from the onset and its gentle euphoria, to the aftermath and its tranquil comedown. If you’re an experienced cannabis user, you were probably familiar with these stages without the names to put to them. Those who are newer to cannabis can always refer back to this list to get an idea of the type of effects they should expect after consuming cannabis, so they can better prepare and ensure a pleasant experience with no adverse side effects.