Aug 182013

hold in marijuana hit gets you higherI think we all have that friend that tries to hold in his/her hit of marijuana as long as they possibly can in an attempt to get higher. They swear that if you hold in your hit of marijuana longer, it will make you higher. I have always gone back and forth in regards to which side of the equation I fell into – whether or not I believed holding in my hit of marijuana longer would get me higher. I have many memories of smoking marijuana, hanging out with friends growing up, and watching my friends try to hold in their hit as long as they could. I even witnessed a couple of friends pass out because they held in their hit so long. Luckily, none of them were ever hurt.

We always debated whether or not holding in a hit of marijuana longer would make you higher growing up, and we didn’t have the internet to research things. Everyone’s arguments were usually based upon ‘a guy they heard it from’ which is not exactly a good source. These days we have the internet to shed more light on the subject. I found some

According to Steve Liebke’s 2001 ‘A Cannabis User’s Harm Reduction Handbook,’ “Take small, shallow tokes or pulls. About 95% of THC in cannabis smoke is absorbed in the first few seconds so breath holding is quite pointless. All it really achieves is a far greater amount of tar being deposited in the lungs.”

The excerpt from Steve Liebke’s book didn’t have citation itself, so take that information for what you will. It seems much more reliable of a source than ‘some guy I heard it from’ though. What do readers think? Do you hold in your hit of marijuana longer because you think it makes you higher? Or do you think that it doesn’t matter? I invite others to post links in the comments to other research if they have something good to share! I would like to see a study done about the difference between smoking dabs versus smoking flower, and how holding it in is different (if at all). Because I know when I hold in dab hits, that shiz has some bite!

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About Johnny Green

Johnny Green is a marijuana activist from Oregon. He has a Bachelor's Degree in Public Policy. Follow Johnny Green on Facebook and Twitter. Also, feel free to email any concerns.
  • Vixxis

    I have also heard most of the THC is absorbed in the first 5 seconds or so. Makes sense not to hold smoke in your lungs for long periods of time.
    What I want to know is if the old saying “stay hungry, stay high” is true. Seems like eating does reduce the effects duration but I have been unable to find a reliable source.

    • Capt Cosmo, Retired

      I look at it the other way around. As a neck & throat cancer survivor I was unable to swallow any liquids for 3 1/2 years and unable to swallow food for 5 1/2 years. My short term memory is fried from the extensive chemo. Unable to swallow or eat for so long I no longer have an appetite. Unable to remember if I have eaten, coupled with no appetite, I have gone days without nourishment and wound up hospitalized. The only time I have ever found myself looking in the fridge is when I have the munchies. For me it’s “Stay High, Stay Hungry” and I munch along continually. My many medical providers are aware of this unique situation and approve of my indulgences and self medication.

    • TK

      I toke. I catch my buzz and I eat. Boy do I eat! I remain on my happy cloud! The effects don’t wear off, they linger for me. IF I don’t toke, I don’t eat! Due to the harsh HIV meds I must take daily, I have zip for appitite. I smoke a bowl or a pin joint, my appitite returns. Food does not bring me down. Ironically, caffine does! Weird I know but for me, it’s true. I tend to avoid anything that contain’s caffine when toking. Some might level out, once they ingest food. Mind over matter. If you wish to remain on your happy cloud, you will. If you wish to level out, you will. Smoking more won’t help. Once you’ve made up your mind, your decent may be a smooth one or you’ll bottom out in a blink. But like I mentioned, not everyone is the same. WE each use this amazing herb, for one thing or another. If I just wish to get zapped, then it’s my will. But to level out after eating? Nope. Pending on my food of choice, it’ll enhance it.

      • Mizzle Mayne

        This is my very own opinion, but I like to look at everything as science. If THC is stored in the fat cells, and a skinny person would get higher quicker than a very….large person…. Eating food that has fats would store the THC in the fat cells, which would reduce your high. Considering the THC would also be looking for this fat to be stored in, it would send a message to your stomach saying it needs fat, which would send a message to your brain saying I need some damn food to store this THC. But, this is also not a problem considering we always have to eat, and if that is the only side affect to Weed, May the Lord wake me up to bake up.

        -Captain Krabbs

  • Stephen Weber

    Waste less, want less.

  • Johnathan Melton

    There is this debate for concentrates (specifically Dabbin) about whether or not holding in your hit longer gets you higher. Personally I do not think it works that way as your article suggests. I feel the “higher” feeling is actually oxygen deprivation, not more THC entering your lungs. BB size dabs are FAR more effective than marble sized ones, no matter how you look at it.

  • Joshua Johnson

    I read an article about this, years ago. I cannot recall the name of the article nor the publication, though it may have been High Times Magazine. The article was an interview with a doctor of some sort who made a very clear point. The lungs only have the capacity to absorb a specific amount of any gas, be it oxygen, smoke, or some other substance. Therefore, this doctor went on to explain, the idea of holding your hit longer only serves to keep oxygen from the brain, causing brain cells to die. I really wish I remembered the article better, but the guy made perfect sense.

    • LapisLee

      Maybe you shouldn’t have held your hit while reading the article. :-)

    • Ryback [NB! Not really]

      Your brain cells could die but really, nobody holds their hit in for minutes. It might damage your lungs more, might make you pass out. So I agree it’s pointless and risky Brain cell damage? Not that likely imo.

  • EphU

    I never smoked to impress so average breath volume with a couple second hold worked best for me. ( Think breathing control techniques while doing cardio exercises type of smoking. ) Holding it longer, or a mondo hit never did anything except make me cough or choke ( I have asthma ) and that is not fun, so why do it. I love the effect of a chilled water bong but the hits are too big for my personal tastes. Vaporizing is on my list of to-dos first chance I get.

    • Micayla

      A vaporizer is the best invention in the world… so smooth for those of us with breathing problems. :)

  • Ernest Paul Toth

    Don’t try 2 B Aqualung but,hold it-o-bit!!!!!!! Take it from-o-pioneer with canteen-o-Southern C. in hand….

  • Sara Edmonds

    I let my buddies hold it all they want. while they do that, I smoke the damn thing.

    • kycountry

      I’m with you, just call me humphrey………

      • Sara Edmonds

        lol.. I have TRIED to tell them it does just as good to inhale, then exhale. also, cutting off oxygen is bad for the brain

  • LapisLee

    This may or may not be relevant, but when we used to smoke DMT back in the 70′s I got so high the first time that I tried to blow out the hit immediately to not get quite so out there and it never worked. With DMT you either smoked enough or you did not smoke enough and holding it seemed irrelevant to the level of the high.

    • Eric

      holding in DMT is very relevant to the intensity of the trip, at least for the first ten or so seconds.

  • Smoke

    I do not hold my hits, I draw it in slowly and deeply, then I slowly exhale it. That I have found to give me a greater high than anything and I think i know why. If you are slowly moving the smoke through your lungs it is passing over the surfaces that absorb the drug. But when you hold your breath the smoke just sits. I think keeping it in a slow motion makes the most use of the hit. Just my .02

  • ddsdavey

    Its an illusion imo,holding your breath longer will make you light headed so people probably think its the effects of the weed.I must admit im a sucker for this,ill have to stop doing it now.Its obviously just a myth.

  • bart

    this is a question for Dr. Gupta…

  • 2buds4me

    I have a PAX vaporizer and so my intake can be carefully controlled or crafted to the mood I want to “get into”. I get “adjusted” (thanks Russ) several times a day. From a freshly packed oven holds .25 grams for me and I get 3 to 4 sessions from it. First draw from fresh is a half breath. While I’ve found holding to provide no increase in high, I’ve found a “panting exhale” to increase the adjustment by nearly a third. My theory is I’m swirling different vapor past different capillaries by “re-breathing” the same vapor on the exhale. I hate to exhale and see good vapor going to waste. I guess I could try exhaling into a plastic bag and re-breathing from the bag. Hummm?

    • Sarijuana

      that would be breathing carbon dioxide, which can get you high, like when people hyperventilate, right?

    • kycountry

      question….i have copd and it’s hard to smoke a doobie. a friend told me i should use a vaporizer. since i’ve never had the oportunity to use one, i’m curious as whether or not this would work for me. i’m trying to prevent the lung explosion when you take a hit. any thoughts?

      • 2buds4me

        I have some dank Northern Lights right now and running it through the PAX makes it as smooth as silk. No smoke – only vapor. If you cough, it’s because your weed is strong – not cause of smoke. The PAX is a true vaporizer – does Not turn your weed to ash. The pax also stretches your weed out. They say you waste 95% of your THC in a joint – only inhaling 5%. I agree. The Pax oven will last 3 big sessions for me – so 3 days usage for .25 grams. Try to make a joint last 3 days… A good vaporizer pays for itself in a month or 2. I can make a dime bag last a month. Try that rolling J’s.

        • Jackie Rockey

          I am interested in getting a vape machine…so a PAX is best? Are there different types of this? What would you recommend for me…2 adults will be using for daily medical marijuana use and recreational as well. Thanks for the info. ;-)

          • rebecca jones

            best bet it to google vaporizers (or marijuana vaporizers) and do some research. pax is one option. there are a variety of differents vapes at different price points. there are also standard plug in vapes, and portables. as i said, do some reading, ask more questions and find what you need

        • jordan

          a dime in a month lol baby lungs

      • chillin granny

        Absouletly use a vap. So easy on the lungs. And you smoke less.

      • msreality123

        i have asthma and use a vaporizer. since you are not actually burning the weed its not harsh.. its the best way to get pain relief and absorb THC..except for consuming food products

  • no

    No, everything after 1 second is placebo… or oxygen deprivation.

  • Doogie Houge

    I wouldn’t hold it any longer than a drag off a cigarette. Why? Don’t think any of my friends got any higher…

    • Sarijuana


  • David Allen

    The air adjacent to the alveoli has 95% absorption however the air in the center of the alveoli may not touch the wall of the alveoli. By taking short sips of air during inhaling cannabis makes the air circulate better in the alveoli and would increase absorption. Some people actually blow exhaled cannabis smoke into a volcano type bag and re inhale it later for good effect. Seems a little to conservative for me.

  • Choom Gang

    Sometimes I hold my breath just because I like the way it feels. Then there is the cannon ball cough. Combine them with one hit, and you hit the triple point (scientific term). Puff to high in seconds flat, baby.

  • Lou Reads

    I have always heard with vapor that you should hold it (ghost it) so you see as little vapor escaping as possible. However with smoke I’ve always heard its just a normal inhale (pause) exhale.

  • Simon Smith

    mayb the not breathin just makes ya feel more stoned, and as for passin out do rising sun, start squattin than while mates givin u blowback, slowly stand up, when stood right up they press against ya chest (not hard lol) propa mullers ya and has high pass out rate so get ready to catch ya mates :D

    • Robert J Fitzpatrick

      What language are you speaking?

      • jordan whit

        Gotta be yorkshire or somat

    • Teddy Tong

      dont ever let someone push your chest like how he described. i tried, and is dangerous. It stops the blood going to your heart….consequently, i was knocked out without knowing. If pressed against the chest for too long you could die from lack of blood reaching your heart.

  • Kimberleigh Krepp

    I threw up once taking too big of a hit off my bong

    • Shannon Ireland

      Me too, you’re not alone

  • Mic Jane

    Weed has cannabinoids and THC. You need both for your high to be happy and awesome. If you only ingest THC it’s horrible. So… i think it does get you higher (or at least makes your high a little happier) because all the THC is absorbed within a few seconds, but what about the cannabinoids? I’m not saying im super smart but this was always my thought on the matter. If im wrong, by all means please enlighten me. Thanks and happy toking ;)

    • Will Smith

      thc is a cannabinoid

      • jordan

        no there is a difference you can find a video online about doctors who inject a lady with straight thc and it does exactly as mic jane describes and then they inject her with thc and canniboids and then its exactly as mic jane said here i the youtube video url these same doctors plan to have marijuana clinical trails for humans in about a year they have proven it stops and kills brain and breast cancer.

    • Krim

      THC is a cannibinoid, however so are CBDs. However, to get good wee you need HIGH levels of THC and LOW levela of CBDs. CBDs make THC less effective!!

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    • The bong ripper

      So… is this legal? Is there an age needed for this? Because I might be a potential customer. Also if its not legal im still a potential customer

      • kushy

        Comments like that are just cops trust me

        • bella

          Comments like this are just lazy. It can’t hurt you to answer legitimate questions. You’ve already posted that you’re selling bud, so the “damage” is done.

          Answering “no” to whether it’s legal or not doesn’t mean you can get busted for something.
          Putting an age restriction on selling pot SHOULD be done, regardless of whether its legal or not. I certainly wouldn’t want to be the reject that sold pot to a 12 year old….

          If he was a cop, he’d have just called the phone number you posted and set up a meeting.

          Talk about dope.

          • blazed

            is mail order weed legal? even in states where MMJ is not legal and what proof do i need that i am a patient? Word of mouth?

          • painkills2

            No, to my knowledge, mail order bud is not legal. I’m not even sure it is legal to send cannabis seeds through the mail.

          • blazed

            and these guys are trying to push it here, has anyone ever tried this? do they just rip you off?

          • painkills2

            I’ve never tried it, but other posters seem to have tried it and gotten ripped off. Or I guess if someone tried it and reached the DEA, then we probably wouldn’t have heard about it.

          • Roger

            SWIM would just use for and SR 2.0, SMP or BMR.
            And the bloke selling weed is not a cop but a scammer, not even using a for email address. If he is a cop, it’s entrapment.

          • painkills2

            “SWIM would just use for and SR 2.0, SMP or BMR.”
            What does this mean?

          • KRIM

            Seeds are legal so long as they are sold and shipped as “Novalty” or “Collector” products. Order from Amsterdam so you are covered. They are legal and WILL still grow.

          • painkills2

            I think that some MMJ states have put laws in place regarding cannabis seeds, but I don’t know how that would affect international shipping.

          • Ken Olson

            ^ Says the COP.

      • kaj

        most people who advertise like that will scam u

  • mshadows

    I held in a hit so long I sharted

  • JrRasta

    I think it gives you head rush nd makes you feel higher than what you are, that’s in my experience

  • Ken Olson

    I too have went back and forth over whether it makes a difference to hold in a hit.

    I finally came to the conclusion that the only reason you perceive to get ‘higher’ when you hold in a hit is that the THC and lack of Oxygen together are causing a larger wave of euphoria to hit you than just a normal hit would. Without getting enough Oxygen to the brain, and then loading the same brain with lots of THC/THCV/CBDs, you’re obviously going to feel a bit more euphoric and light-in-the-head.

    My two cents at least.

    • ghost

      Which really means you get higher faster, how about the menthol cig after smoking?

  • Josh Lafond

    makes perfect logical sence that it does kinding relaying back to something like the choking game, ur holding ur breath not allowing oxygen to your brain giving to a reaction within ur brain simulating i higher high theory solved

  • jon delgado

    When you are holding your breath you are simply blocking oxygen flow, killing brain cells and not boosting your thc receptors anymore than you would from taking a small hits. Basically, you hold your breath and get dumber, not higher

  • TC

    After 7 seconds all THC has been absorbed so holding it for more is pointless.

  • Wagweed

    I don’t know why, but, for sure it’s the first hit that gets you high, the rest is just part of a ritual. It doesn’t matter if you hold it longger or not. I smoke one joint in three parts. I start in the morning with a couple of tokes, then I smoke the joint again after lunch, stop and keep the roach to kill it before dinner. I can assure you that by doing get stoned all day long, with only one joint.

  • beorn

    personally i say toke, hold 5 seconds, and release. thats how i get the best high, but iam not goign to claim that its the right way, give it a try everyone it makes smoking a J alot more relaxed too because you arent choking in your smoke all the time, for holding in so long, the thc was already absorbed half a minute ago guys but lack of oxygen wil certainly make you a little light headed and dizzy.

  • Fiend

    I wouldn’t hold in for more than 10 sec when smoking with a group to avoid looking like an ass from a bad coughing fit but when I’m alone I try to hold as long as possible. Its just a habit now but started out as how I was taught when I first started smoking.

  • some dude

    It only takes a few seconds for the THC in the smoke to coat your lungs and dissolve into your blood stream. really at that point it depends on your heart rate. I’ve heard coughing gets you higher, which would make more sense cause coughing after a good hit would force heart to pump harder in turn delivering the THC through out your body faster. Even at that rate you would still only be getting high faster.

  • grimevil

    i think it is important to save smoke longer i lungs to be more high
    for exemple of me
    most of my friends smoke joint like cigarette and i’m not, after this they almost not smoked and i feel more good than them
    by the way..
    i’m checking weed on this way
    when i heat and hold like 20/30 sec i feel the level of weed but when you smoke whole J. like cigaret its half of what you can get from him
    in my opinion…

    • ghost

      That was painful to read, I think you might be suffering from not enough oxygen to the brain.

      • BxHaze87


  • Dr. Milt

    I see a lot of speculation here without scientific fact. The lungs have a mechanical function and smoking (cannabis) interacts with that function. Deposition of the inhalant, distribution, particle size, gas exchange, aveolar expansion, and many more, are factors in understanding the impact of smoking and what inspiration pattern creates the most effective absorption of inhalant (cannabis). The very fact that the inspiratory pattern can change the distribution of what is inhaled and where it is deposited does have some valid impact on the effect achieved. Let’s have discussion with knowledge, not assumptions.

  • Krim

    to get the most out of a hit, inhale. When you cant hold the hit in any longer, take an inhale of regular air and hold that as long as possible. When you cant hold it anymore, repeat process with regular air. Keep repeating until you cant inhale anymore and MUST breath. This will “trick” you lungs.

  • Claude Ferguson

    I feel higher when I hold it in for a good 30 seconds, so that’s what I’ll continue to do. The time it takes for your body to be deprived of oxygen is varied. Those who think holding the smoke in for a minute will give you brain damage, are wrong.

  • matt

    I was always the type to hold it n as long as I could it just made since to me the longer it’s n ur lungs the more ur gonna get but who realy knows its just me tho different strokes fur different folks

  • Herbertberg

    Just think. Smoke a joint give little hits, you’re gonna need more little hits than big holding hits. It is nothing to be asking, think about your own experience

  • TreeHugga

    I have a theory why people who hold it longer in their lungs feel ‘higher’. It’s like with smoking, or with sheesha. You get dizzy because you’re getting too much smoke in your lungs and less oxygen than brain would like and that makes you dizzy. That’s, in my opinion, reason why people tend to feel ‘higher’ when they take longer hits, their brain is just losing oxygen and that makes them dizzy and together with weed they feel ‘more’ high. I take mostly short hits when I smoke joints. When I have a bong I hold it about 20-30 secs just for fun. I didn’t notice any difference in short and long hits. Maybe just that with shorter hits I cough more :) .. well that’s my theory.

  • 0.o

    Placebo effect.

  • Dave

    5 to 7 seconds is long enough. With vaporization – just take enough to fill your mouth and hold it a few seconds and everything is beautiful.

  • Halls

    I’ve learned that when taking a hit, it is best to inhale for 3 seconds, hold for 3 seconds, and exhale through your nose for 3 seconds. The theory behind it is that it hits all the pours.

  • budhead

    Have to cough to get off!

  • Jayce Pirtle

    When I first smoked I was told thats how you smoke pot that was how you got high (yea right) after smoking it that way for so many yrs then learning that holding in your hit was just a myth i tried to smoke and not hold in the hit and I like could’nt do it I always took the hit in so deep I always just hold it in thats how I smoke I guess anyway. Have you had your meeting with mary & Jane yet today?? haha have a good one. Peace be with you always.

  • Mistadobalina
  • lipster

    i. find there is no difference between holding and not holding

  • gfdsa

    i take small toke, inhale as quick as i can from light to all the way back in my lung while maintaining control of it all, the speed, the flow the bubble size the lit bowl minimizing weed loss , exhaling slow get a lil more out of it. and yes for what its worth just hold it in for a bit you don’t get 100 % even if you do but hold it in, that un noticeable amount of more will add up expecally if your taking smaller hits and more of them. tar deposit, ud be stupid to rip so hard it hurts your chest later, never even heard of it but i smoke ciggs tar harm is easy there, but haven’t seen any case of it in weed use, dont worry about it just dont aim for maximum tar and you wont accomplish it.

  • GanjaGuru420

    I think when you hold your breath longer you merely feel higher from the blood rush and your heart beating faster from holding it in. If you want to get higher invest in a pinch hitter, use it for awhile. Then go to bowls, then joints, then bongs, then blunts, then reset. And you’ll never have to quit and stay high.

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  • asdfjklxtiffany

    Did anyone notice how you can’t ‘dislike’ things, you can only like them. Which really sucks, because there’s some REALLY dumb responses on here. If only stupidity could be legal. We all know you only have to hold hits in for 5 – 7 seconds at max. And we all have our own ways of smoking. This forum was a pointless, and rather dull read.

    • asdfjklxtiffany

      Ha, lethal,* not legal. Gotta love auto correct. -.-