10 Reasons You Might Not Get High From Weed
5 min

10 Reasons You Might Not Get High From Weed

5 min

What did you feel the first time you smoked weed? For a lot of people, the answer is nothing. Some beginners don't inhale properly or use too little weed when rolling a joint. In others, their unique physiology simply means they need much more THC than the average smoker to feel anything. Discover the most common reasons for not getting high.

Smoking weed most often results in giggles, fun conversations, creative thoughts, and much-needed rest. Sounds good, right? That’s why some people become disappointed when they feel nothing at all.

Thankfully, not getting high after smoking a joint remains rare. It mostly occurs in beginners taking a toke for the first time. But, it can also happen to experienced blazers out of the blue. Discover what happens to the body after smoking weed, and the top reasons you might sometimes miss out on a high.

What does it mean to be high on cannabis?

What Does It Mean To Be High on Cannabis?

The term “high” describes the state that arises after ingesting or smoking THC. Humans have grown and used cannabis for thousands of years to achieve this altered state of mind.

While different cannabis strains produce varying effects, the underpinning high remains similar. It’s characterised by an elevated mood, deep thoughts, increased hunger, and enhanced creativity. However, the same substance affects individuals differently. While we can’t know for sure how everyone will feel after smoking weed, millions of cannabis lovers report similar effects across the board.

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How is a weed high established in the body?

How Is a Weed High Established in the Body?

After smoking cannabis through a joint or vaporizer, THC enters the bloodstream through small sacs in the lungs. From there, it reaches systemic circulation and penetrates the blood-brain barrier. After gaining entry into the brain, THC produces a high by interacting with the endocannabinoid system. More specifically, it binds to a group of receptors known as CB1. This activity leads to a rise in dopamine levels and catalyses the quintessential psychotropic effect of cannabis.

This pathway changes slightly after chowing down on marijuana edibles. Oral THC passes through the digestive system before making its way to the liver. The liver then converts the molecule into a more potent compound called 11-hydroxy-THC, which produces a long-lasting and psychedelic-like high.

10 reasons you're not getting high from marijuana

So, what happens when people smoke or eat marijuana but don’t get high? Well, there are several reasons this phenomenon might occur. Explore 10 of the most common reasons below, and get to the bottom of why you’re not feeling sufficiently stoned.

1. It’s the First Time You’ve Used Cannabis

It’s the First Time You’ve Used Cannabis

Many cannabis users report feeling a different kind of high, or no high at all, when they first smoke weed. There are many variables that play into this experience. To start, beginners are unlikely to smoke cannabis correctly during the first few sessions, especially without the guidance of a more seasoned weed lover.

Some theories even pin not feeling high on underlying physiology. After smoking weed for a long period of time, the body starts to express more cannabinoid receptors to meet the demands of all that THC floating around. In beginners, a reduced number of cannabinoid receptors means THC has a lot fewer sites to bind with to produce its effects.

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2. Not Knowing What To Expect

Not Knowing What To Expect

Not knowing what to expect might compromise the effects the first few times you smoke weed. With no prior experience, you might actually fail to notice the subtle effects of THC. Most first-time smokers only take a few small hits and expect to be blasted off into space. Instead, this amount will produce only barely noticeable effects (especially if the THC content of the cannabis strain is mild).

While many novices pass this off as a failed attempt, you should try to really pay attention to the minor shifts in your mood, thoughts, and bodily sensations. Although it might not seem like much, this is an ideal way to introduce yourself to weed. Dipping a toe in and taking your time far outweighs becoming overwhelmed and getting put off.

3. Not Inhaling Properly

Not Inhaling Properly

Inhaling cannabis smoke incorrectly skews the high of most first-time marijuana smokers. If you’ve never smoked anything before, prepare to feel a harsh sensation in your throat, and to cough a few times. This feeling leads many novices to simply inhale into their mouth before immediately exhaling. You might experience a slight high with this technique, but it won’t unleash the true essence of cannabis.

Instead, draw the smoke all the way into your lungs. You don’t need to hold it in, but make sure you inhale deeply before exhaling. This will ensure all of those THC molecules make it into your bloodstream, so you don’t waste a single hit.

4. Poor-Quality Weed

Poor-Quality Weed

There are two categories of beginner weed smokers: those who have experienced friends to guide them, and those that navigate the smoky terrain alone. The former often get treated to high-quality weed from the get-go. The latter, with no mentors to source good weed, often start out buying and smoking poor-quality cannabis.

While high-quality bud looks manicured, sufficiently dried, and coated with trichomes, bad buds are seedy, half-wet, untrimmed, and harbour low levels of THC. Even if you inhale properly, you’ll experience a mediocre high at best.

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5. Not Enough Weed

Not Enough Weed

Uncertainty is common amongst beginners, and can lead them to use too little herb the first few times they smoke. Moreover, there’s the actual content of what you’re smoking to consider. Smokers in the United States often use nothing but cannabis flowers when rolling a joint, increasing the likelihood of getting high. In contrast, many European smokers often add tobacco when rolling a spliff.

Placing this additive into the mix can make cones seem a lot bulkier than they really are, leaving users high off a nicotine rush instead of THC. Although we recommend taking your time, don’t be afraid to pack your joints with more weed if you don’t feel high the first few times.

6. The Weed Contains More CBD Than THC

The Weed Contains More CBD Than THC

In recent years, cannabis breeders have developed strains that contain much higher quantities of CBD, or cannabidiol. This molecule produces no intoxicating effects, but leaves users feeling mellow and alert.

Some strains offer equal amounts of THC and CBD, whereas others contain high levels of CBD and almost no THC. If you’re packing your joints and bongs with flowers and not feeling high, check the cannabinoid profile of the strain you’re using to make sure it contains enough THC to deliver the desired outcome.

7. Wrong Consumption Method

Wrong Consumption Method

Starting with more complex consumption methods can make getting high a lot more difficult in the beginning. Sure, they’re attractive, but figuring out how to use a complex desktop vape or dab rig leaves a lot of room for error.

We recommend smoking a simple joint when using cannabis for the first time. Light up the end, take a deep inhalation, and you’ll experience everything THC has to offer. From here, take a step into the world of bongs, bubblers, and pipes. They take a bit more skill than a spliff, but they’re still pretty easy to operate. Once you’re comfortable with these methods, you’ll graduate into the domain of marijuana edibles, dabbing, and vaping without any issues.

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8. High Tolerance

High Tolerance

It’s not just beginners that struggle to get high sometimes. Advanced smokers can also find themselves missing out on the full effects of THC. After smoking for a while, the amount of CB1 receptors in our bodies increases. However, after chronic exposure to THC, they start to dwindle. Thus, cannabis users can become partially desensitised to the psychotropic cannabinoid. Simply put, this means it takes more and more marijuana to feel the same effects.

Fortunately, it only takes a short break from cannabis to send CB1 receptor expression through the roof again. It usually takes anywhere from two days to two weeks to feel properly high once more.

9. Endocannabinoid Deficiency

Endocannabinoid Deficiency

Clinical endocannabinoid deficiency describes a physiological state where the body produces low levels of endocannabinoids. These molecules serve as chemical messengers and help many other systems function, from the digestive system to the nervous system. Each individual has their own “endocannabinoid tone”, or the amount of endocannabinoids that their body produces.

Cannabinoids such as THC share a similar molecule structure to endocannabinoids, a trait that allows them to bind to the same receptors. THC may only return a person’s endocannabinoid tone to a baseline level if they experience endocannabinoid deficiency, meaning it might take a lot more cannabis for these individuals to start feeling the psychotropic effects.

10. Hormones Might Block the Cannabis High

 Hormones Might Block the Cannabis High

Endogenous hormones might also change the way cannabis affects your body. Just like we produce varying levels of endocannabinoids, we also synthesise different levels of hormones. Produced by the adrenal glands, pregnenolone serves as a building block for steroid hormones such as estrogen and DHEA.

However, high endogenous levels of this hormone may reduce the cannabis high by blocking THC’s effect on CB1 receptors. Therefore, a marijuana user with high pregnenolone levels might require higher doses of THC to feel comparable effects.

What to do if you don’t get high on cannabis?

What To Do if You Don’t Get High on Cannabis?

If you don’t get high the first few times you smoke weed, don’t worry about it! It’s more common than you may think. Simply try a few more times and allow your body to get used to the herb. You might find that you experience a breakthrough the third or fourth time you try smoking a joint.

Sometimes, it might simply be a matter of your unique physiology. Reduced endocannabinoid tone or higher levels of certain hormones might mean you require more THC than your fellow smokers. Eventually, you'll figure out the perfect dose that works for you.

Adam Parsons
Adam Parsons
Professional cannabis journalist, copywriter, and author Adam Parsons is a long-time staff member of Zamnesia. Tasked with covering a wide range of topics from CBD to psychedelics and everything in between, Adam creates blog posts, guides, and explores an ever-growing range of products.
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