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Why Can Some People Smoke Pot and Not Get High?

Stephen Campbell September 30, 2019

Why Can Some People Smoke Pot and Not Get High?


Some people smoke pot and enjoy a calming high. Others smoke without getting high at all. Some smoke without getting a calming high, and instead experience an anxiety trip. 


 So, what influences the outcome of your experience? 

● Quantity 

● Pre-existing conditions 

● Strain 


 Firstly, if you smoke without getting high at all, it could be due to the quantity or strain. 


First, let's talk about quantity. First time users, or anyone trying a new strain for the first time are advised to use a very small amount. Without trying the specific strain of cannabis it is difficult to know how you will be affected, so the safest method is to start slow. Cannabis has changed over the last few decades and become substantially stronger because of breeding. 


The warning is to try as little as possible the first time just to get a feel for it. And sometimes you just try too little, which may be why you don’t end up feeling high.


 If you or a friend have grown a new strain, the amount you smoke might simply be too little to have any effect. This is particularly true if you regularly smoke pot. 


Regularly smoking pot will build up a tolerance, just like other substances such as coffee, alcohol, etc... 


So, if you smoke too little or have built up a tolerance, you might not end up with a high. 

Pre-Existing Conditions

Pre-existing conditions, specifically anxiety conditions, can change how your brain is affected by cannabis. In fact, studies show that people with acute stress could be preventing their own ability to get high. Studies have shown that stress stimulates the mobilization of endocannabinoids in part of your brain. Without getting too technical, the cannabinoid receptors in this specific part of the brain known as the basolateral amygdala, contribute to the formation of fear memories and anxiogenesis. Anxiogenesis is a substance in the brain that actually causes anxiety. 


If you have anxiety and you try to smoke pot and get high, it may cause more anxiety. This can be upsetting if you are smoking pot in order to help with your anxiety. 


Now, this doesn't mean that every single person who has anxiety will not be able to get high and experience worse anxiety. It just means that people with serious, pre-existing anxiety conditions, when smoking certain strains of pot, might not get high. In fact, they might have the opposite experience, one full of fearful memories and even more anxiety. By starting slow and experimenting with different strains you can find what works best for you with your pre-existing conditions. 


Those with serious pre-existing psychotic conditions have been found at particular risk for this unwanted outcome. 


But let's look at strains a little more closely. 


We've mentioned strains a few times. People who are new to cannabis might not realize there are different strains, and they can produce very different highs. 


You could smoke pot, thinking you're going to feel a crazy high in your brain, but instead you simply get a weird feeling in your body. Or, you think that when you smoke pot and get high you'll feel relaxed, melt into your couch, but instead you feel energized. 


It all comes down to strain


If you visit a cannabis shop or you start growing on your own you need to be aware that there are three different classifications of pot: 

1. Hybrids 

2. Indica 

3. Sativa 


Indica and Sativas have two distinct highs. 


Chemical Profile of Sativa vs. Indica

Cannabis Indica and Cannabis Sativa are two different species of the same plant. 


Sativa strains grow much taller. They are known for having narrow leaves, and they have longer flowering cycles. These grow best in warmer climates. Some of the most popular strains include Durban Poison, Panama Red, and Acapulco Gold. 


Indica strains are shorter, they have broad leaves, and short flowering cycles. These grow best in colder climates. The most popular strains include Hindu Kush, Afghan Kush, and Mazar I Sharif. 


Different Highs

If you think of the quintessential high that you get after smoking pot, you’re probably thinking of the head high. That is achieved with Sativa strains. Sativa strains give you a cognitive high. They usually make you feel energized, so they can help with things like social anxiety, creativity, or stimulation for physical activity. 


Indica strains are more relaxing with sedative properties. This is a high you feel throughout your body. To that end, some people who smoke Indica strains feel relaxed, but they don't feel that head high that they anticipate and think they didn't get high at all. 


Why Terpenes Matter 

It's not guaranteed of course that smoking Indica strains will automatically sedate you or Sativa strains will lift you up. There are other things to consider such as the CBD and THC levels and terpenes. 


Terpenes are what give plants their aromatic compounds, whether it's fruits, vegetables, or cannabis. These aromatic compounds are produced in the same part of the plant that produces THC and CBD. 


When you smell cannabis, the aroma is the result of terpenes. What's more, these terpenes play a significant role in the high you achieve regardless of strain. 


What are the most common? 

● Terpineol. This relaxes the mind and gives you energy. 

● Myrcene. This enhances psychoactivity of THC, and can help with sedation and relaxation. 

● Linalool. This is sometimes used for pain management, or treating stress and anxiety, or insomnia. 

● Alpha and Beta Pinene. This is thought to treat inflammation and asthma. 

● Humulene. This is sometimes used for its antibacterial properties, pain management abilities, and anti-inflammatory properties. 

● Beta-Caryophyllene. This is thought to help with insomnia, pain management and have antioxidant/anti-inflammatory properties. 


So, if you smoke pot and don't get high, take some time to reflect on the experience. Did you not feel anything at all? Did you feel a heightened sense of anxiety? Did you feel something in your body and not your head? 


Figuring out what happened during your experience will help you to make whatever changes are necessary to achieve the experience you really want next time. 

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