How Long Should You Hold a Hit of Weed?

Girl tries to hold a hit of weed

Everyone seems to have a different opinion when it comes to how long you should hold a hit of weed. Guesses range all the way from 'as long as you possibly can' to 'it doesn't really matter'. While neither is right, it goes to show that no two people smoke cannabis the same. And it's no wonder considering how many factors go into each individual high: the weed product, the smoking apparatus, how you inhale, for how long, etc...

Actually figuring out how long to hold a hit of weed seems impossible, especially when reliable research on the topic is so hard to find. Despite this, every stoner still has their own personal idea of what works best. And a lot of stoners seem to think that holding hits in your lungs for longer gets you higher. Not only is this untrue, it's just plain uncomfortable!

What Happens When You Inhale Weed Smoke?

Smoking cannabis is easy: all you have to do is set the weed on fire and inhale the smoke. Anyone can figure that out (a monkey could probably figure that out)! There's really nothing all that complicated when it comes to cannabis consumption, at least until you start wondering how and why it works. To know how long you should hold a hit of weed, you should first have a basic understanding of how smoking cannabis actually gets you high:

Simply put, when you smoke the cannabis travels down through your mouth and throat until it reaches your lungs. There the weed is quickly absorbed into the bloodstream and up to your brain. That distinct feeling of being high only occurs once the cannabis reaches the cannabinoid receptors in your brain, which can take a few minutes. This timespan is probably what confuses a lot of stoners when it comes to how long you should hold weed smoke in your lungs. The idea that holding a hit for longer makes you higher is just one of many common misconceptions about inhaling cannabis smoke. 

Myths About Inhaling Weed Smoke

Research in the cannabis field is still in development, which makes finding straight answers about weed (and its effects) difficult. Word of mouth and personal experience is usually how the stoner community develops smoking 'facts', some of which have little or no basis in reality. That's not to say that a lot of what you learn through the grapevine about cannabis isn't true, just that some may not be. Common myths about inhaling weed smoke are:

  • Coughing Makes You Higher: Where this myth began is anyone's guess, but the fact remains that coughing after a hit doesn't do much to get you higher. If anything, coughing should be avoided since it means you obviously took a harsher hit than you meant to. The kind of hits that make you hack up a lung coughing are usually big, smokey, and potent. It's no wonder you get higher when you cough — you smoked more!
  • Holding In A Hit Makes You Higher: Yes, you are supposed to get as much of a hit as possible into your lungs. That doesn't mean that holding smoke in your lungs for half a minute is the way to do it. After the cannabis is absorbed, which only takes a few seconds, all you're going to get from that smoke is carcinogens. You may feel higher after holding your breath for an extended period of time, but that's because of oxygen deprivation, not weed.
  • Smoke Tricks Make You Higher: Anyone who has performed (or tried to perform) a smoke trick will know that it isn't exactly an efficient way to get high. If anything, smoke tricks are a waste of good weed smoke. When you perform a smoke trick, you have to keep the smoke in your mouth instead of inhaling like you normally would. Since the smoke doesn't reach your lungs as much, you actually get less high than you would otherwise. Knowing how long you should hold a hit of weed is useless if the smoke never even gets to your lungs! 

How Inhaling Can Actually Get You Higher

Why hold your breath until you're blue in the face if all you want is a better high? The quality of your inhale matters much more than how long you can keep weed smoke in your lungs. Learning to inhale properly gets you higher and makes sure you get the most out of your cannabis. No more wasted smoke and unsatisfying highs, only luxurious drags of sweet sweet cannabis. Some of the best techniques for getting more bang for your cannabis buck are:

  • Inhale More Deeply: Most of the time, people inhale way less than they actually are capable of. This happens to stoners and to everyone else who doesn't actively focus on breathing. Medical professionals, people who meditate, and even athletes will stress just how important it is to breathe deep. As weird as it may sound, the same goes for smoking weed! Instead of holding a shallow hit for a long time, focus on expanding your lungs and filling them with cannabis smoke. Wait just a few seconds at most and exhale. Not only have you introduced more weed into your system, you're also not oxygen deprived!
  • Breathe In Again After Inhaling: Another inhalation trick that can help you get the most from your weed is to breathe in more air after you take a hit, but before you exhale. This extra inhale forces any smoke stuck in your throat and mouth down into your lungs. No more wasting perfectly good weed smoke just because you aren't inhaling all the way! Get everything you can out of your hit; weed isn't cheap, after all.
  • Smoke More Before Exhaling Completely: While this tip isn't for everyone, many stoners have found that they can increase their high by exhaling only a little before taking another hit. This works great if you prefer small hits or you are comfortable handling a lot of weed smoke at once. Take a hit, exhale just a bit, then take another hit. Repeat until thoroughly stoned.

So How Long Should You Hold A Hit Of Weed? 

Ultimately, holding in a hit of weed for longer than five seconds does very little to increase how much cannabis you absorb. People who hold a hit for long periods of time are most likely experiencing oxygen deprivation, not a better weed high. How long you hold the smoke in your lungs matters less than how well you inhale it.

So don't let yourself get caught up in all the hype that suggests that longer hits are better. It's better to learn how to inhale efficiently than to hurt your lungs holding in smoke when you don't have to. Five seconds is more than enough to get everything you want from all that smoke. You should only hold a hit of weed only as long as it is comfortable for you, and no longer than five seconds. Any more time than that is just unnecessary!