One of the best things about cannabis is undoubtedly the blissful sensation known as the ‘high’. In an instant, it can hold you in a warm embrace, transport you away from your cares, and make you feel like a million dollars. But what happens when you aren’t getting stoned anymore?
If you’re using medical marijuana, you may only want the medicinal benefits without the high, so a little THC might be all you’re after. But what do you do if you’re unable to get high? It can happen, and several factors could be restricting your ability to get that buzz.
If you’re trying to get higher than today’s gas prices but can’t get so much as a buzz, this article sheds some light on the subject.
What Causes a Cannabis High?
Firstly, it helps to understand why we get high in the first place. No, not because it feels good – what happens inside the body that enables cannabis to make us high.
The psychoactive properties of the cannabis plant have long been as sought-after as the medicinal benefits. Records suggest that the plant was used in religious ceremonies as far back as the 5th century BC – that’s around about the same time as cast iron was first used, and roughly when the Greeks developed linear perspective. So, a while then.
While the cannabis high has been no secret in many cultures, it wouldn’t be until 1964 before fully understanding how the plant has a psychoactive effect. Raphael Mechoulam identified and isolated the chief active ingredient tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) for the first time. 24 years later, Allyn Howlett and William Devane discovered the first cannabinoid receptor in a rat’s brain. This then led to the discovery of cannabinoid receptors in the human brain.
Science was beginning to piece things together. In 1992, Mechoulam and Devane would discover anandamide; an endogenous cannabinoid found to occur naturally in the human body and bound to the same receptors as THC.
It was then noted that the endocannabinoid system and THC worked together to create the high. When THC enters is smoked and enters the lungs, it gets absorbed into the blood, tissue and brain. It’s upon entering the brain that the THC in cannabis begins to alter neural chemistry, essentially flooding the endocannabinoid system with signals which change the flow of information among the neurons. This is what we call a high.
Pretty elementary stuff, right?
Why Can’t I Get Stoned?
There are a few reasons why you may be unable to achieve the high you’re looking for. They range from the relatively straightforward (perhaps even painfully obvious) to the altogether more complex. Let’s look at the most likely reasons and possible solutions.
You’re not High – Your Tolerance is
It’s a common condition among seasoned cannabis users and one that can apply to many drugs and medications, from alcohol to painkillers, sleeping tablets and even other recreational drugs. The more you use the substance, the more your body adapts, and the less effect/desired benefit you experience – and science backs this up.
In a 2016 study carried out at Yale University, it was found that in daily cannabis users, CB1 receptor availability in the body lessens over time. This means fewer sites for the cannabinoids to bind to and interact with.
The study showed that after just two days of abstinence, more CB1 receptors became available – and even more interestingly – CB1 receptor availability returned to almost normal (that of non-cannabis users) after four weeks of abstinence may continue to increase over time.
The good news is you can use a variety of tricks to restore the impact of THC to what it used to be – the bad news is that most of them involve either a period of abstinence – known as a tolerance break or reducing your consumption.
Smoke every day? Try halving your intake. Smoke big joints? Try switching to a vape, or even just smoking smaller joints – use smaller rolling papers, use less weed for a few days or better yet, a few weeks.
Do you use concentrates? You could nix them altogether and go a different route. Edibles? Eat fewer, or switch to a lower dose. Do you dab? Try dabstinence! Hey – nobody said it would be fun, but it’s certainly not rocket science, and if you can do it without giving up your favourite flower completely, that’s a win, right?
The lower your intake, the quicker those cannabinoid receptors will make themselves available again.
Your Weed Sucks, Bro
Complex problems often have simple solutions – could it just be you have a batch of substandard product? There are simple tests you can do to determine if the problem is with your stash.
Let a friend try it, and if they aren’t getting stoned either, you most likely have your answer. If they do, then it’s back to the drawing board. Alternatively, get your hands on some different bud and see if that gets you where you want to be. The basic process of elimination.
If cannabis is exposed to light, heat or oxygen at length, the THC may turn to cannabinol (CBN). A minor cannabinoid with less psychoactive kick to it. This would go some way to explaining why once-potent buds may no longer be getting it done. To avoid this happening in the first place, it’s useful to ensure you’re storing your cannabis correctly, to lessen the risk of your weed becoming spoiled.
Does your weed have a sugary, crystally appearance to it? Is it sticky? If not, it may mean that it’s low on trichomes. Trichomes are the fine, glistening structures on cannabis buds that contain THC, and usually indicate good quality.
Then again, you may simply have a strain with low THC levels. And, unless your tolerance levels are good and low, or you’re an occasional or newbie smoker, chances are you’re not going to get a sufficient high from a low-THC strain. Switch it up to a strain with higher levels of THC and see if it makes a difference.
You’re not Using it Correctly
More likely in newbie smokers. You may find you’re unable to score a respectable buzz from cannabis if you’re going about it wrong. We’re not saying pack your joint or bong with a heroic quantity of the stuff. And doubling up on the edibles is a bad idea.
Instead, ask yourself a few questions about what you’re doing and see if you can troubleshoot that way, first.
If smoking: Do you have enough cannabis in your joint/bong/pipe? In the case of rookies, it’s not unheard of to under-load for fear of the effects. If you’re only lightly dusting, increase the dose a little and see if you notice any changes.
Are you inhaling correctly? Take a slow, deep inhale of the cannabis into your lungs. Avoid sucking it all the way to your stomach, and don’t suck hard. You’re looking to inhale the smoke, not swallow it, so if your stomach hurts you’ve gone too far! There’s a long-standing myth that holding the smoke in gets you high faster, or gives a more potent high, but this is not the case.
Check your equipment, too. If you’re using a pipe, bong or vaporizer, it could be defective or blocked in some way and causing problems.
If marijuana edibles like brownies or gummies are your preferred method, bear in mind these take significantly longer to have an effect than smoking cannabis does.
When you smoke weed, that vapour gets into your bloodstream quick. But when eating edibles, the weed has to be digested first and then metabolized in your stomach and liver before the magic moment happens, sometimes up to an hour later before you feel high. The rule with edibles is start low (dose) and go slow (be patient), otherwise you may come a cropper.
5mg might not do it for you, but 10mg probably will. The internet is littered with often hilarious yet sometimes concerning tales of edible-related mishaps. Usually, guy eats edible, feels nothing, eats another edible, still no joy, eats another edible. 90 minutes later the guy is completely ruined and wakes up three towns away with no clothes on. Don’t let that be you.
You aren’t Getting Stoned Because of your Biology
If I had a buck for every time I’ve said that…..I’d be homeless. Unfortunately, this does not imply a temporarily–induced state of abstinence, but rather, an underlying medical condition that makes it difficult if not altogether impossible to achieve cannabis high.
American medical cannabis guru Dr Ethan Russo has hypothesized that some people may have an endocannabinoid deficiency as the result of another medical condition and theorizes that those afflicted with fibromyalgia, irritable bowel syndrome, or even people who suffer from migraines may not produce enough endocannabinoids to suitably entertain THC and create a desirable high from cannabis use. Dr Russo’s recommendation for upgrading cannabinoid receptors involves, getting sufficient rest, improving gut health, regular exercise and a healthy diet.
If you don’t suffer from any of the aforementioned conditions, there is another medical reason why you’re unable to get high from cannabis use, and it’s called pregnenolone. Pregnenolone is a naturally-occurring hormone in the human body that’s believed to protect the brain from intoxication caused by cannabis, and if your body produced enough (or too much) of this hormone, there’s a strong likelihood that your body will be more adept at blocking the cannabis high, leading to a degree of frustration among would-be stoners.
A study published in 2014 found that when researchers treated rodents with high volumes of THC, the rodents would produce pregnenolone in response. The scientists then tried injecting the rodents with further pregnenolone after THC treatment and found that the injection reduced THC intoxication. Interestingly, human cell lines responded in a similar fashion when treated with pregnenolone.
Going by these studies, if your body is more adept at producing the pregnenolone hormone, it would seem to follow that you’ll be less likely to experience THC intoxication. You aren’t getting stoned because your body won’t let you.
You’re not Smoking Seedsman Strains
Shameless, I know, but you can’t blame a guy for trying.
If your tolerance is higher than a giraffe’s ass you should check out these Seedsman strains, super potent and really easy to cultivate. Growing your own is like cooking your own food, it just tastes better.
If you live somewhere you can cultivate without getting slapped by the long arm of the law, get yourself some Seedsman seeds and start cooking your own dinner today.