What Does It Feel Like to Be Getting High? The Ultimate Guide


Cannabis is one of the oldest plants ever cultivated by man. Scientists estimate it first became popular as far back as 8,000 BC. It has been linked without a doubt to use in ancient China 2500 years ago.

Cannabis users enjoy marijuana for the same recreational, medicinal, and ritualistic uses today as they have for millennia. For those who have never tried the substance, one question overshadows all others:

What does it feel like to be high? This guide will shed some light on the physiological, emotional, and mental effects of partaking with the sweetest of leaves, marijuana.

Getting High

Explaining Being High to a Non-User

Explaining feeling high to someone who has never smoked marijuana is much like explaining how the color green looks to somebody who is color blind.

The absolute best way to find out the answer to this question is to try consuming marijuana yourself. For those who are unable to, or choose not to, a secondhand explanation is the closest you can get to the actual feeling.

To best facilitate a thorough explanatory process being high is best broken into three categories. The first is the physical effects of being high, the second is the mental effects of being high, and the third is emotional. 

Getting High on THC Disclaimer

Before getting into the physical effects of the high feeling is important to note that some users never even get high or experience anything during their first few times smoking weed.

This is a common phenomenon known throughout the stoner community. For those that do experience the physical symptoms of being high, however, the following are some general guidelines as to what happens to your body.

What Does It Feel Like to Be High Physically?

There are a couple of things that happen to your body right away after inhaling marijuana smoke. The first is that you may cough, or even enter into a coughing fit. 

Coughing most often happens in those who are less tolerant of marijuana and smoke it less, but anybody that has taken a big enough inhalation of marijuana smoke is subject to a coughing fit.

Immediately after coughing you will notice that your eyes are watery and red. You may have a pounding head-rush that takes a few seconds to subside.

Within minutes your mouth turns dry and you get thirsty. This effect is known as “cotton-mouth” by marijuana enthusiasts. This is one of the first concrete effects to measure when learning how to tell if you are high.

At this point, you may notice that your body feels warmer than normal, and your muscles may feel loose and relaxed. A few minutes after the initial head-rush subsides you may notice your perception of reality is different.

At this point, the physical effects of being high start to overlap into the emotional and mental, but before examining these areas let’s go over a few more physical effects of a marijuana high.

As your high develops, you may develop the “munchies” which is an increase in appetite specifically for salty or sweet snacks. If you smoke an Indica strain (more on that later) your body may also get physically tired.

Marijuana also decreases pain and increases the physical sensation of pleasure. For this reason, it is also known as a natural aphrodisiac.

Mental vs. Emotional Effects

The mental and emotional effects of marijuana are two similar criteria. For the sake of an accurate explanation, mental effects will be in reference to how marijuana affects your thought process and perception of the world.

Emotional effects will discuss how marijuana makes you feel about this distorted perception and thought processes. It will also include information about how marijuana affects things like creativity and inspiration.

That being said, the mental effects of marijuana are as pronounced and varied as the physical effects. Let us take a look at what they encompass.

What Does It Feel Like to Be High Mentally?

The first thing you will notice after an immediate exhale of marijuana smoke is the head-rush. While this is a physical feeling, it also strays into the area of a mental effect.

During the initial onset of the head-rush, you will notice that your thoughts have been clouded by an enormous burst of psychoactive chemicals such as THC.

Everybody has different reactions to marijuana but in general, you may feel as if time has been distorted to either be longer, shorter, or non-existent. Your short-term memory will be disrupted and you may have some memory loss.

Things will seem much funnier than normal and you may notice an increased sense of well-being. Also since marijuana is a minor psychoactive drug and hallucinogen you may have a distorted perception of reality.

This is a very minor distortion, unlike full hallucinogens such as LSD or psilocybin. At the very most you may notice that some colors are brighter than normal, or that you take a keen interest in some artistic patterns.

You may find pleasure in simple activities such as watching the clouds go by or enjoying the rustling of the wind in the trees.

Depending on the strain you have smoked you may have increased or decreased energy and sociability. Also, marijuana may make everything more fun and awesome.

The level of joy produced by spending time outside and participating in fun activities is enhanced with certain strains. Some compare being high to feeling like a little kid again where everything is fresh and new.

Other strains may make you more lethargic, relaxed, and content to sit inside and do nothing but watch movies for hours on end. A lot depends on the type and quantity of marijuana you have consumed.

What Does It Feel Like to Be High Emotionally?

The emotional effects of being high are one of marijuana’s greatest boons to the human mind. Marijuana often produces a range of emotional effects for its users ranging from euphoria to a slight increase in happiness.

Sometimes marijuana also produces negative emotional effects such as anxiety or paranoia, but this will be touched more on in the negative effects section of this article.

Overall, marijuana increases creativity and can provide a perspective and mood-changing effect for many users. This is useful for overcoming obstacles such as writer’s block, depression, or a jaded worldview devoid of positivity. 

Marijuana can put you in an artistic or creative mood where you think about things from a different perspective. You may feel compelled to paint, write, or play music. Marijuana use also leads to free uninhibited thought.

Marijuana makes you feel ok doing mundane tasks that would otherwise be considered boring. In essence, it takes the edge off and can help you enjoy the moment.

Marijuana often makes its users feel more playful and as if everything is going to be alright. It often leads to introspection and deep self-analysis which can produce both positive and negative emotional effects.

Marijuana provides users the ability to take their emotional health into their own hands. THC and other chemicals in marijuana bind to serotonin receptors in your brain, simulating the substance that produces happiness in humans.

Therefore, by consuming marijuana you can in essence “simulate happiness”. This allows you to manifest this fleeting emotion on your own terms. This can be useful when you want to unwind after a stressful day.

However, marijuana must be used judiciously and with moderation to avoid a few semi-serious negative emotional, physical, and mental effects.

Negative Effects of Getting High

Keep in mind, that with every up comes a down and after using marijuana you may feel “burnt out”. Overuse of marijuana can mess up your body’s natural serotonin production and lead to symptoms of depression.

Some strains of marijuana can also make you feel lazy and lower your ambition and motivation levels. Sometimes, if you get too high you may suffer from paranoia and anxiety. 

While some strains are great for alleviating the symptoms of insomnia, others may cause trouble sleeping. They may also cause you to “overthink” and self-analyze to the point of degradation. 

Some people prone to psychotic episodes, mental breakdowns, and mental disorders such as depression should be wary about smoking marijuana.

Marijuana smoke, like all smoke, also contains carcinogens. Over-smoking can torch your respiratory system and cause things like sore throats or a “smoker’s cough”. 

Overall, if used in moderation, in the right context and environment, the negative effects of marijuana are very minor. Alcohol and nicotine are far more detrimental to your health and mind than smoking marijuana most of the time.

Different Types of Highs

Different types of marijuana strains produce different effects in their users and therefore different kinds of highs. The quantity of marijuana you consume also affects the type and duration of your high.

On this site, you can learn more about the typical duration of a marijuana high and how you can alter the length of your high to suit your purposes.

The way you consume marijuana will also influence the type of high you get. If you eat edibles for example you will experience more of a long-duration body high. 

Dabbing or vaporizing THC concentrates will yield you a more “clean” high, absent of the fogginess inherent to smoking marijuana.

Overall though, the type of high you experience is governed by whether you consumed a Sativa, Indica, or a hybrid strain of marijuana.

Sativa Highs

Sativa strains of marijuana are associated with providing you a more energetic sociable high. Sativa strains are excellent to smoke before participating in a hike or outdoor activity.

Be careful with Sativas however as they often lead to more anxiety and paranoia than other forms of marijuana. They have a bit more of an “edge” which can make relaxing, sleeping, or sitting still hard.

Pick Sativas as an active-high option and use them in moderation to avoid any undesirable effects. They are a great “day-time” or “party” option for marijuana users.

A small amount of Sativa before a social gathering might enhance your social experience, a large amount may ruin it. Find your balance by starting slow and experimenting with different contexts.

Indica Highs

Indica strains of marijuana give you a relaxing high. They also can give you a serious case of munchies. Indicas may make you more tired and less sociable. 

They are great to smoke right before bed or on a lazy day where you want to take a load off. They cause less anxiety and paranoia than Sativas, but they may “couch-lock” you where you feel too lazy to do much of anything.

Use Indicas in moderation to avoid this effect and instead enjoy their soothing and relaxing mood enhancement properties. Indicas are a great night-time smoke and are perfect for a relaxing night in.

Hybrid Highs

Hybrids are a bit of a catch-all category as they are a blend of Indica and Sativa characteristics. There are very few pure Indica or Sativa strains and most are some sort of Indica or Sativa-dominant hybrid.

You can experience a wide range of highs from hybrid strains, so make sure to check in with whoever you get your weed from as to what the specific effects of any individual hybrid strain are.

Overall, hybrids provide a more balanced high than either of the two polar Sativa-Indica options and can blend the effects of both into a pleasant moderate-high.

Feeling High Is Great

There is a reason that the effect marijuana produces is named a “high”. This is because it elevates your mood and makes you feel as if you are sitting on top of the world.

Getting high on cannabis is one of Mother-Nature’s greatest gifts to humankind. For those left asking themselves: “What does it feel like to be high?” The best piece of advice is to go try some marijuana today.

Only do so if you are ready, but if you are, and your job/lifestyle allows, why not try getting high today? For all your other news and information make sure to check out the rest of our page.


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