When does marijuana kick in?

The way marijuana is administered determines its onset of effects. Smoked marijuana = seconds or minutes to kick in. Oral consumption of weed = 20-45 minutes to onset. More here.

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Marijuana is a green, brown, or gray mix of dried, crumbled leaves from the marijuana plant. It can be rolled up and smoked like a cigarette or cigar or smoked in a pipe. Sometimes people prepare marijuana for consumption in food and eat it. Weed can also be concentrated in a resin called hashish or brewed as a tea. But do you know how fast weed works or the basic facts about its duration of effect?

While using marijuana is considered an offense under the U.S. Federal Law, many states allow smoked marijuana to be used for medical purposes. Read on below to find out more about the active ingredients of marijuana, the onset and duration of marijuana’s effects, and what affects the actual onset. We also cover risks related to marijuana use. Finally, we invite your questions and comments related to marijuana addiction and its treatment at the end.

Marijuana active ingredients

Marijuana is in fact the dried and shredded mixture of stems, seeds and flowers of the Cannabis sativa plant. The most potent chemical contained in marijuana is delta-9-tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) and 400 other chemicals called cannabinoids. The TMC is, in fact, what causes the mind-altering effects of marijuana; it is the amount of THC that determines how strong the marijuana is. The highest amount of THC is found in the female marijuana plant, from which hashish is made.

When does marijuana start working?

The way marijuana is taken determines the onset of effects. When smoking marijuana as a cigarette/cigar or inhaled through a pipe/bong, the effects can be felt within few minutes, sometimes seconds. If taken with food, usually with baked goods (brownies, muffins), the effects take longer, usually about 30-60 minutes. Depending on the way it is taken, the individual’s heart rate increases by 20 to 50 beats/min, the eye blood vessels expand giving blood-shot eyes look and the bronchial passages opens up. These effects can be intensified if taking other drugs along with marijuana.

Factors that influence marijuana onset

Did you ever wonder what happens before marijuana kicks in? Let’s look at the factors that influence the onset of marijuana effects:

Bioavailability – The amount of marijuana that is actually absorbed from the dose taken is an important determining factor. The bioavailability depends on the manner that MJ is being administered; smoking weed produces faster effects than eating or oral consumption of marijuana.

Concentration – As mentioned above, the higher the concentration of THC, the stronger the marijuana. The stronger the marijuana, the faster the delivery of the psychoactive ingredient to the brain.

Drug form – Marijuana comes in various forms, each one determining the onset of its effects. While joints and pipes filled with marijuana will make one “high” faster, brownies and muffins spiced with marijuana will keep one ”high” longer.

Mode of administration – When smoking marijuana, the THC rapidly passes from the lungs into the bloodstream immediately carrying the chemical to the brain and distributing it to other organs. Orally consumed marijuana is first transformed by the liver to 11-hydroxy-delta-9-THC and it takes some time until it reaches the brain.

When does marijuana peak?

The feeling of being “high” is felt within minutes when smoking marijuana, and reaches its peak between 10-30 minutes. When orally consumed, marijuana triggers the feeling of being “high” occurs within an hour and reaches its peak somewhere between 2.5-3.5 hours.

When does marijuana wear off?

Effects of smoked marijuana begins to wear off about 2 hours after initial use, but some individuals need longer to get back to normalcy. Effects of orally consumed marijuana require more hours for effects to wear off.

Risks of marijuana addiction

Marijuana users are likely to experience learning and memorizing difficulty. According to recent research, individuals who use marijuana in their teenage days are at a higher risk of a drop in IQ, even if they quit over the years. Moreover, THC affects the brain in such a way that it slows down reaction time and affects the judgment making process. This effect can put one in a dangerous position while driving and in situations when quick reaction is needed. What is more, marijuana can significantly speed up the heart rate, thus increasing the risk of a heart attack.

When does marijuana kick in questions

Do you have additional question about how marijuana works on the body? Do you have an experience ro share with us? Please contact us in the comments section below and we will get back to you personally and promptly.

Reference Sources: NIH Medline Plus: Marijuana
NIDA Archives
The White House: State Laws related to Marijuana
U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs: MJ information sheet
U.S. Secretary of Labor: Drug Free Employee Screening
Washington State Patrol: Drug fact Sheets
About the author
Lee Weber is a published author, medical writer, and woman in long-term recovery from addiction. Her latest book, The Definitive Guide to Addiction Interventions is set to reach university bookstores in early 2019.


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  1. I’m taking bipolar meds
    And i smoke a joint 2 to 3 times a week…..
    It helps me so much….
    Do other ppl with bipolar see how it helps???

  2. It should be a crime to write a post like this and have it seen by so many people who trust that the information is all fact. What level of education does this author of this article have? It appears to be very little give the poorly referenced writing such as this information. I don’t even want to call this article “information” because If anyone reading this would really trace the evidence from your very bias sources, they will see that not all, but much of what is written here is highly unclear and not proven with the current research at this time.

    1. Hi Evan. Thank you for your feedback. We always strive to provide accurate information for our readers. Can you please point out the data that you feel are not correct? We always do our best to right any wrongs and would appreciate your input.

  3. Hey. I am 18 yrs old. I smoked a joint that contained weed as well as hash. It’s been 5 days now. All my friends got perfectly normal that day only but my world still seems to be slow, though I am doing all the things normally but the senses tend to have lowered their speed yo react to things. Can you pls help in making me normal again?

  4. I’m not realli familiar with marijuana so i have few questions about that: Is that normal when i don’t get high from 0,5g splited on 2 ppl, and when should i be able to feel more than sleepy feeling? When i smoke 0,5-1g 3-4 times a week?

  5. Hi, Holly. Yes it’s normal. I once smoked like 0.8 grams of hashish and i went home and fell asleep after 1/1.5 hour after i smoked. The morning after i still had the effect for like 1 or 2 hours, maybe 3 i’m trying not to exagerate. I only remember it was quite a long time. It’s not a fact, I’m just saying that something similar happened to me.

  6. I’m under 25, I’ve never done drugs before, so I need some advice.
    I ate a brownie at about 1am that contained 1gram of apparently quite strong weed/marijuana, and I didn’t feel the effects straight away. Went to sleep at about 3am, woke up at 9am for work, went to work. I started to feel the effects at about 12pm, and it started to wear off around 4pm. Is this normal/possible? Or was it all in my head?
    An answer or three would be much appreciated.

  7. My daughter has marijuana since she was 13 ,it changes her personality,sometimes she is mean,she smokes everyday,she looks like a differant person when she smokes ,she lives in her room like a pig,she cares about very little,life just passes her by, She recently got in a bad automobile accident and wrecked her car and hit a truck and wrecked it and still it did not phase her.she walked away unhurt ,thank the lord the other people minor injuries. Please help me,to help her.I am afraid next time she will kill herself of someone else.She is so stoned most of the time she just doesn’t get it.

  8. If you only have one joint, would that be enough to get you addicted? I’ve tried many cigarettes and I’m not addicted to them, so would it be the same thing?

  9. Hi I was born with 2 minor holes in my heart it has never effected me before do u think I would have a heart atack if I smoked marijuana ?

    1. Hi, Tom. If you are having heart problems, please know that smoking marijuana can adversely affect your heart.

  10. Um some of your facts are wrong. I’m a daily user and my reaction time isn’t slowed at all. In fact marijuana has helped me more then hurt me

    1. Hi, Anon. We use facts of trustful sources which are listed below each article. As you said marijuana has helped you more, that’s in your case. For others, it may hurt them.

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