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How Long Should You Hold In Your Marijuana Hit?

Saturday July 15, 2017

Y ou may already have your own answer to this question. Or you may be a newbie cannabis consumer and just want to know. While there are certainly a slew of opinions online, we want to get down to the bottom of it.

First things first, we want to start by busting the myth that holding in your hit for longer means you’ll experience a better high. You might be thinking, “I actually do feel higher when I hold it longer.” And yes, this is partially true—but only because you’re depriving your brain of oxygen which means you’re more likely to feel light headed.

A 1997 study determined that our lungs can only take in so much—5-6 ml oxygen per minute to be exact. And Australian studies indicate that 95% of the THC in cannabis is absorbed within the first few seconds of inhaling. So, no matter how deep you breathe or how long you hold, there’s a limit.

Consumption Method Matters

The most important aspect to note when determining how long to hold your hit in is the method of consumption. Cannabinoid absorption differs depending on the type of consumption method because your body absorbs cannabinoids through each technique differently.

One way to explain these differences is by looking at bioavailability. Bioavailability is the process where substances are absorbed by tissues and organs, or rather, how likely it is for the molecules in cannabinoids to pass through the gastrointestinal tract liver filtration system and then be put to work. Smoking delivers cannabinoids at an average bioavailability rate of 30% where edibles deliver cannabinoids at an average bioavailability rate of 5%. This means that only 5% of a product’s cannabinoid content will get absorbed into the bloodstream.

This is also why edibles take much longer to kick in. They have to endure a long process throughout the body first. But because smoking marijuana produces an oxidization process, cannabinoid absorption is relatively high. This is because molecules do not pass through the acidic stomach environment, but rather go into the bloodstream through the lungs.

Long story short: The higher the bioavailability, the lower dosage you need to produce the desired result.

Holding in Your Hits

Cannabinoids from combusted cannabis are absorbed rather quickly, so holding in your hit too long will result in unwanted absorption of smoke and tars. In fact, approximately 88% of combusted smoke gasses (think joints and bongs) contain non-cannabinoid elements.

Smoking produces a rapid effect that lasts for a short time due to its high bioavailability, so the general recommendation is that holding it for a few seconds should do the trick.

Holding it any longer than that is just a waste. Holding a huge hit just produces more smoke than your lungs can handle and it can’t go anywhere but out.

Cannabis that is vaporized or dabbed, on the other hand, is cleaner and contains less tars or other non-cannabis elements (It’s also perceived as much safer than smoking). Some say that nearly 95% of cannabinoids are inhaled through vaporization. But when looking at bioavailability, it’s about the same as combusted cannabis.

Because you’re only consuming vapor though, holding in your hit slightly longer when vaporizing or dabbing won’t absorb any extra tars or smoke. Although each vaporizer and consumer can alter the dosage, you should still generally hold your hit for a few seconds to get the best results.

There is much debate in the cannabis community about how long you should hold in your hit. If you've ever been curious about this topic, check out our article to find the answer!

How long should you hold your inhale?

Joe Dolce
Jun 6, 2016 · 3 min read

When I was growing up, holding in a massive hit for 5 seconds was supposed to get you higher: “If you don’t cough, you don’t get off,” went one popular stoner catchphrase. And while it’s cute, it’s dead wrong, according to scientists who’ve been studying the question and discerning myth from fact.

There are two main cannabinoids in cannabis: THC and CBD. THC gets you high; CBD is responsible for most of the healing. To learn how to maximize both of these wonderful molecules I turned to Mimi Peleg, the woman who has probably taught more people how to properly use cannabis than anyone. That’s not an exaggeration. Before moving to Santa Cruz where she now works as a “cannabis lifestyle manage,” at the Green Acres dispensary (you’ve got to love the hippies) Mimi trained about 3,000 patients in Israel’s medical cannabis program. With some 20,000 patients, it’s the largest state sponsored medical cannabis program in the world. Every month, patients get 20g of cannabis (the $100 cost is covered by national insurance), but all patients must be trained to smoke properly. Having read every scientific study and having access to the world’s greatest cannabis scientists, Mimi has concluded that holding in smoke for longer than a second is not necessary.

Cannabinoids are absorbed into the blood in milliseconds, so there is no reason to keep smoke that contains plant matter, tars and other pollutants in the lungs any longer.

However, holding in smoke can be useful when showing the uninitiated how to inhale properly. “I usually instruct newbies or elderly people to hold it for a few seconds so they don’t just put it in their mouth and blow it out. This ensures they get something into their lungs.” She also instructs newbies to take 50% air to avoid violent coughing. (That kind of eruption is the result of a large portion of THC, an oil based molecule, hitting the water based lining of the lungs. Remember, oil and water don’t mix).

More important than the time you hold the inhalation is how deeply you hold it. Shallow breathing fills about .5 of a liter of the lungs. Deeper breathing fills the lungs with up to 5 liters of air. That means that 10 times the amount of cannabinoids are getting into the bloodstream. A deeper breath will get you a deeper experience.

As to smoke or vapor, the answer is: It depends on your goals. Obviously, vapor has less pollutants, so it’s cleaner. (Note: no study has ever linked permanent lung damage to cannabis smoke, probably because the anti-inflammatory effects counter the irritating effects of smoke). But vapor contains fewer terpenes and flavonoids, so the range of the high is limited. It’s clear, but not as powerful. Everyone notices that.

A few additional bits of cannabinolgy:

· Grind weed well, especially if you’re vaping as you’ll maximum surface area.

· If you’re smoking in a pipe turn it on its side while lighting to avoid burning fingers

· If you’re super sensitive use a match as opposed to a lighter which contains butane. The Hippies in Santa Cruz only use a beeswax candle, says Peleg.

· Mix your strains: “Growers don’t want to hear that this, but I don’t care what wins the Cup: If you smoke one strain for a month you won’t get as high. Especially, if you are a seasoned user [and have a tolerance]. The only thing that will help is to mix the strains because they have different terpenes and flavonoids which hit different receptors. This works for a vape and a joint.”

When I was growing up, holding in a massive hit for 5 seconds was supposed to get you higher: “If you don’t cough, you don’t get off,” went one popular stoner catchphrase. And while it’s cute, it’s…