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Lifestyle, Research

Can You Get Higher by Holding in Cannabis Smoke for a Long Time?

Chane Leigh

by Chane Leigh

December 30, 2019 11:00 am ET Estimated Read Time: 3 Minutes
Can You Get Higher by Holding in Cannabis Smoke for a Long Time?

Many people will try to tell you that you should hold in your cannabis smoke before exhaling in order to get the most out of your toke. This stems from the idea that if you hold in the smoke longer, you give your body more time to absorb the cannabinoids through your lungs’ alveoli (the air sacs in your lungs).

Despite how logical that may seem, science does not support that theory. In fact, the reason why you may feel an intensified effect from holding in your smoke has nothing to do with absorbing more cannabinoids.

Why Holding in Cannabis Smoke Doesn’t Get You Higher

Some consumers claim that the longer they hold in their smoke, the more they feel the cannabis. However, you will not get higher the longer you hold in smoke because more than 90% of the THC is absorbed instantly as you inhale. The feeling of getting higher from holding in smoke has nothing to do with the cannabis itself; what is actually happening is the deprivation of oxygen to your brain.

Depriving your brain of oxygen by holding in your smoke longer can make you feel lightheaded. The carbon monoxide and toxins from combustion with smoking and holding it in only intensify the lightheadedness. The more you hold in, the more elevated your heart rate gets and blood gets pumped in faster to compensate for the low oxygen levels, contributing to the feeling of getting more out of your smoke. 

Holding in your smoke longer than necessary results in the absorption of unwanted smoke and tars. Consuming your cannabis through joints and bongs and holding that smoke in allows the tar to stick to your lungs more. Holding your cannabis smoke in longer does NOT mean you’re absorbing more cannabinoids; 3 seconds is all it takes for your alveoli to absorb the optimal amount of cannabis and move the cannabinoids into your bloodstream.

Check out this article for some ways to consume cannabis without smoking altogether: How to Get High Without Smoking: 8 Ways to Consume Cannabis

Tips for Optimal Cannabis Absorption

Consider doing the following to ensure the optimal intake of cannabinoids with minimal risk of oxygen deprivation:

  • Inhaling cannabis works the same as inhaling air. Rather than inhaling shorter hits and holding them in, try to inhale DEEPER. This allows more cannabinoids to enter your lungs without giving time for unwanted smoke and tar to be absorbed. 
  • Allow yourself some time and fresh air in between inhalation. 
  • Consider different methods of cannabis consumption, such as dabbing and edibles.
  • Vaporizers do not combust cannabis but rather heats it up in order to activate the cannabinoids, resulting in healthier and optimal absorption. 
  • Try microdosing! Everyone consumes cannabis for various reasons, but this method of consumption allows you to reap some of the benefits of cannabis while consuming a minimal amount for the optimum effect.

Cannabis will have the same effect on your body whether you hold in your hits for 3 seconds or 10 seconds—the only difference is the amount of oxygen and blood flowing through your body. No matter how long or deep you inhale, there is still a limit on cannabis absorption, which does not take longer than 3 seconds to reach. 

Post Your Comments

gfromcincinnati says:

September 14, 2021 at 3:07 pm

Thanks! Always wondered about this!

I love you, bud fairy!

John Gidd says:

October 12, 2022 at 2:13 pm

This isn’t even pseudoscience because it doesn’t pretend to be scientific, it’s just wrong. How would you possibly absorb 90% of the THC instantly while barely absorbing carcinogens? That’s not how smoke works, it’s all the same smoke. There isn’t a 1 second rule where the carcinogens wait a full second before going in to your lungs, that’s like saying you can eat food off the ground if you pick it up in 5 seconds, 5 second rule dude! The only thing this partially gets right is that around 90% of the thc is absorbed quickly, not instantly but in 1-3 seconds (everyone has slightly different lungs). Anything past 5-7 seconds is pointless because after that your body is getting a negligible amount of thc, it’s already absorbed virtually everything it can.

Recommending people to blow out their hit as fast as they can isn’t wise. You won’t get nearly as high if you don’t even give your lungs a second to breathe, that’s called hyperventilation or gasping when it’s oxygen and it isn’t healthy either. You’ll just have to smoke more weed to get the same effect. Vaporizers usually suck pretty bad unless you can afford a 300+ dollar one, which most people can’t.

My advice: use a bong or water pipe and smoke in moderation.

Randall D Auclair says:

September 25, 2021 at 10:02 pm

Thanks Chane, I wish in my younger years, I didn’t hold all those big bong hits in so long till exploding into coughing fits.
Nice Piece!

jack nuefeld says:

January 10, 2022 at 9:59 pm

Read this carefully. I’ve been doing delta 8 for a couple months now and thought you had to hold it in for as long as you could. After reading this I thought this was bs because I would take really fast hits and very little effect. Then I re-read this and realized it said to Hold it for 3 seconds max. Also don’t forget forget to keep your vape clean and clean the connectors on the battery + cartridge with alcohol.

James moroney says:

March 24, 2022 at 1:46 pm

How can you tell me that I’m not going to absorb more THC by holding my hit in I can hold that hit in until I have absorbed every bit of that smoke and I blow out no smoke I have therefore absorbed every bit of it!


Lo says:

March 24, 2022 at 2:27 pm

Sir, smoke ≠ THC. The body absorbs 90% of the cannabinoid content instantly upon inhalation. But if you enjoy holding it in, then do it! 🙂

Tanner says:

July 12, 2022 at 2:51 pm

the smoke itself isn’t thc. the thc is suspended in the smoke bc it’s a tiny molecule that you cant see with your eyes. the visible smoke itself is the carbon tar oils and ash as a result of burning the plant.

Rspirate says:

September 3, 2022 at 7:04 pm

If I put a bud under my pillow will the Bud Fairy come to get it?

Dave says:

September 14, 2022 at 10:15 pm

Better leave me $50…lmao

LL says:

October 8, 2022 at 4:42 am

thank you 💚

Alan says:

June 3, 2023 at 4:54 pm

Do you support EFF?


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