Cannabis affects everyone differently. Like any other substance, some people may be more or less sensitive to cannabis than others. It all depends on your present internal body chemistry and genetics.
Some people do not get high from smoking weed. In fact, besides not inhaling, there are several big reasons that people who smoke cannabis do not feel high. However, this in general, is not the average experience.
What causes you to be high?
The way cannabis engages the body contributes to these differences. In total, there are over 400 different chemical compounds in the cannabis plant.
110 of these compounds are molecules unique to the cannabis plant, called cannabinoids. The primary psychoactive compound in the plant is a cannabinoid called tetrahydrocannabinol (THC).
When you consume cannabis, THC enters the bloodstream and connects with special cell receptors called cannabinoid receptors. Thus far, researchers are aware of two distinct cannabinoid receptors, named CB1 and CB2. When THC connects with these receptors, specifically the CB1 receptor in the brain, it causes the classic psychoactive high.
Your ability to feel high depends on many different factors. In general, the majority of people will feel a high from psychoactive cannabis. However, evidence suggests that the cannabis experience is quite variable.
Properly inhaling weed
Let’s rule out the basics. You do have to ingest or inhale cannabinoids with THC in them. That is the only way to properly achieve a high. Many inexperienced smokers do not inhale properly their first few times.
This can be because of unfamiliarity with smoking in general, or a matter of holding the hit, or maybe unfamiliarity with the new gadget they are smoking out of. Anyone who has smoked out of a bong knows that it takes a few tries to truly figure it out.
Try holding your hit a bit longer if you did not get as high as you like the first time. Coughing is not a bad thing and it happens to most people. Some say it even helps you to get more high, but this is largely unproven.
First time using weed
If it is your first time smoking then it is certainly possible to not get high. It takes some people multiple times using weed to get the effect. Most experienced users can confirm this to be the case. If you are new to smoking then you sometimes just have to give it a little bit of time. Why does this occur? Well, there are some theories:
Weed contains cannabinoids that react with cannabinoid receptors throughout our brains and the rest of our bodies for that matter. Our bodies naturally produce cannabinoids but at very low levels. Some believe that it takes a few times of cannabis use in order to fully activate your receptors.
Lastly, it could be more of a psychological hindrance. That is, you may be overthinking the process and/or anxious about the situation which is causing you to have a mental block on the experience. Just try to relax and enjoy it.
Bad weed quality
Not all cannabis is created equal. Today’s crops of cannabis are more likely to range in the teens to low-30s when it comes to THC percentages. This increase in marijuana potency should ensure that every person gets high every time, right? In theory, yes. But several factors may have made that highly rated strain rather dull by the time you light it up.
Even if a person receives high-quality flower, that does not mean the strain will retain its quality over time. If left exposed to the elements, cannabis can degrade and deteriorate. As such, it is essential to store flower in a cool, dark container that does not allow airflow.
If you have low-quality weed to start with then you are going to need to smoke more of it. If you are starting with good weed and you do not smoke regularly then you should be feeling high off of 3-4 hits.
Not enough THC
It is always good to check whether the strain you are purchasing or smoking has any THC in it. If you are doing everything right and still are not getting high, you might be smoking a CBD strain that does not contain any THC.
Smoking CBD flower will not make an individual feel high. It can provide many therapeutical benefits such as relaxation but it is not psychoactive like THC is. It is important to check and make sure exactly what type of flower you have.
Not smoking enough
This is always a possibility, but of course, the solution is rather an obvious one. Smoke more weed!
The “start low, go slow” method is a wonderful concept in cannabis. Basically, begin with a low dosage of marijuana, whether smoking, eating, or what have you, wait 30 minutes to an hour to gauge the effects.
If a person is not feeling the high the first time around, then a second round may be in order. If so, they can take an equal or slightly larger hit and gauge how it affects them. No need to go overboard if the first time did not do the trick.
Continue at the same levels of consumption, or incrementally up the levels being consumed. No need to go all-in if the first round does not produce the ideal results.
Regular weed smokers may get less high
Some people who do not get high when they inhale or ingest cannabis are people who use marijuana frequently over large periods of time.
You can smoke a joint, or even two, and feel that you are not getting as high as you used to get from just a few drags. This is because you build up your tolerance gradually. A good idea in this case might be to take a tolerance break.
Some people advise to just quit smoking for a while. Others say you should try smoking a different strain or using different methods to get high.
Medical conditions that limit your high
Research suggests some people with certain medical conditions can actually feel more normal when they consume cannabis. It is not uncommon to hear people with fibromyalgia or post-traumatic stress disorder explain that cannabis gives them energy and makes them feel soberer.
Neurologist and medical researcher Dr. Ethan Russo thinks that some people may have what is called an endocannabinoid deficiency. Humans naturally produce endocannabinoids.
When you inhale or eat the psychoactive plant, THC hijacks the cell receptor that human endocannabinoids would normally land. By doing so, THC taps into a larger network called the endocannabinoid system.
This system is the largest neurotransmitter network in the body, and it controls a variety of key bodily functions. Some of these functions include:
- Motor skills
Russo theorizes that people with certain medical conditions may not produce enough of these endocannabinoids in the first place. Specifically, those with migraine, fibromyalgia, and IBS.
Some mental health conditions like post-traumatic stress disorder and bipolar disorder may also have some sort of endocannabinoid dysfunction. If this is the case, those with some of these conditions may experience cannabis a bit differently than others.
Natural cannabinoid blocker
Apart from specific medical conditions, there is another reason why some people may not experience a cannabis high after consuming THC. Research published in 2014, found that a particular hormone may block you from experiencing a cannabis high.
The hormone in question is pregnenolone, which is a naturally occurring hormone in the body. Pregnenolone is thought to protect the brain from cannabis intoxication. Interestingly, you can buy this hormone online and at vitamin supplement stores.
In the study, researchers treated rodents with very high levels of THC. They noticed that the rodents began to produce pregnenolone in response.
The scientists then injected the rodents with pregnenolone after treating them with THC. Not only did the injection reduce THC intoxication, but the rodents were less likely to self-administer THC after the fact. When treating human cell lines with the hormone, scientists found similar results.
It is entirely possible that some people may be more effective at producing pregnenolone than others, and therefore better able to adjust after consuming THC.