Marijuana and Mental Health - effects of medical marijuana

How Long Does the Effects of Medical Marijuana Last?

Medical marijuana is a term used to describe the use of the Cannabis sativa plant and its derivatives to alleviate symptoms caused by certain medical conditions. The use of medical marijuana is legal in many states in the US, and it is used to treat a wide range of conditions such as chronic pain, nausea, and seizures. However, there are still many questions surrounding the use of medical marijuana, including how long its effects last. 


Medical marijuana, also known as medical cannabis, refers to the use of the cannabis plant or its derivatives to alleviate symptoms of various medical conditions. It contains compounds called cannabinoids that interact with the body’s endocannabinoid system, which is responsible for maintaining balance and promoting overall well-being. Understanding how long the effects of medical marijuana last is crucial for users to manage their dosage and plan their activities accordingly.

 Factors Affecting the Duration of Medical Marijuana Effects

Several factors influence how long the effects of medical marijuana last. It’s essential to consider these factors to better understand individual experiences and tailor treatment plans accordingly. How long does marijuana stay in your system urine

Consumption Method

The method of consumption significantly impacts the duration of medical marijuana effects. Inhalation methods, such as smoking or vaping, tend to have more immediate and shorter-lived effects compared to oral consumption or topical application.

 Cannabinoid Content

Different strains of medical marijuana contain varying levels of cannabinoids, such as tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) and cannabidiol (CBD). THC is the psychoactive compound responsible for the “high” associated with marijuana, while CBD offers potential therapeutic benefits without psychoactive effects. The cannabinoid content can influence the duration and intensity of the effects.

Individual Differences

Each individual’s body chemistry and metabolism play a role in how long the effects of medical marijuana last. Factors such as age, weight, overall health, and tolerance levels can affect the duration and intensity of the effects. It’s important to start with a low dose and gradually increase it to find the optimal balance.


Regular users of medical marijuana may develop tolerance over time, requiring higher doses to achieve the same effects. Tolerance can affect the duration of the effects, as higher doses may result in longer-lasting experiences.

read more: How long does it take for medical marijuana to start working?

 Duration of Effects for Inhalation Methods

Inhalation methods involve the direct intake of medical marijuana into the lungs, allowing for rapid absorption into the bloodstream. Here, we discuss the duration of effects two common inhalation methods: smoking and vaping.


When medical marijuana is smoked, the effects typically kick in within minutes and peak within 30 minutes to an hour. However, the duration of the effects is relatively short, ranging from one to three hours, depending on the individual and the strain consumed.


Vaping has become a popular alternative to smoking, as it offers a potentially safer method of inhaling medical marijuana. The effects of vaping are similar to smoking, with a rapid onset and a duration of one to three hours.

Duration of Effects for Oral Consumption

Oral consumption involves ingesting medical marijuana through various forms, such as edibles or tinctures. This method takes longer for the effects to manifest but tends to have a more prolonged duration compared to inhalation methods.


When medical marijuana is consumed in the form of edibles, such as cookies or gummies, the effects take longer to kick in. It can take anywhere from 30 minutes to two hours to feel the effects, as the cannabinoids need to be metabolized by the liver. However, once the effects set in, they can last anywhere from four to six hours, and in some cases, even longer.


Tinctures are liquid extracts of medical marijuana that are typically consumed sublingually (under the tongue). The effects of tinctures usually take effect within 15 to 45 minutes and can last for three to four hours.

Duration of Effects for Topical Application

The topical application involves applying medical marijuana-infused products, such as creams or ointments, directly to the skin. While the effects of topicals vary depending on the individual and the condition being treated, they are generally localized and provide targeted relief without significant systemic effects. The duration of effects for topicals can range from one to four hours.

read more: How to Get a Medical Marijuana Card


The duration of the effects of medical marijuana varies based on several factors, including the consumption method, cannabinoid content, individual differences, and tolerance. Inhalation methods, such as smoking and vaping, offer quicker onset but shorter durations. Oral consumption methods, such as edibles and tinctures, take longer to take effect but provide more prolonged relief. Topical application provides localized effects for a specific area. It’s crucial for individuals to understand these factors and work closely with healthcare professionals to develop appropriate treatment plans.


How long does it take to feel the effects of medical marijuana?

The onset of effects depends on the consumption method. Inhalation methods provide quicker effects within minutes, while oral consumption methods may take 30 minutes to two hours for the effects to manifest.

Can the effects of marijuana be prolonged?

Higher doses of medical marijuana can potentially prolong the effects. However, it’s important to approach dosage adjustments carefully and consult with a healthcare professional.

Is it safe to drive after consuming medical marijuana?

No, it is not safe to drive after consuming medical marijuana. The psychoactive effects of THC can impair cognitive function and motor skills, increasing the risk of accidents. Always wait until the effects have worn off completely before operating a vehicle.

Can the duration of marijuana effects be shortened?

Factors such as individual metabolism and tolerance levels can influence the duration of medical marijuana effects. However, abruptly shortening the effects may require adjustments to dosage and should be done under the guidance of a healthcare professional.

 What should I do if I experience prolonged effects of medical marijuana?

If you experience prolonged effects of medical marijuana beyond the expected duration, it is recommended to seek medical advice. A healthcare professional can provide guidance and support to manage any unwanted effects.

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