does holding in weed smoke make you higher

Your opinion: does holding in smoke make you higher?

The topic of whether or not holding in smoke increases the effects of the cannabis plant is a popular – and divisive – topic among recreational cannabis consumers.
Read on to see what our community of enthusiasts thinks about this burning issue.

If you are a cannabis consumer yourself, take a minute to recall your first encounters with your favourite plant, however long ago that was. While every experience is different, we are somewhat positive you can confirm there was always a divide on the challenging subject of whether or not one should hold in cannabis smoke. You may even still be regularly debating this while partaking with friends!

This is why Sensi Seeds decided to test the waters and asked its Facebook and Instagram communities the following question.

The results were eloquent, with almost equal parts of believers, and non-believers. Which side turned out to be right? Check out the different stances below, or skip to The Science to get the 101.

Many of our users were convinced that holding in smoke while consuming cannabis results in a stronger high.

M.T.C. – “It’s always worked for me!”

D.M. – “Holding it in your cheeks, false! Holding smoke in your lungs, depends on your tolerance, absorption rate is increased, true!”

C.V. – “Yes, if doing proper circular breathing with a little amount of smoke in your lungs. You’ll get so much more high, rather than just holding it or exhaling right away.”

Depending on the user, various “optimal” numbers of seconds during which smoke should be held in were reported. On the other hand, everyone from this side of the poll seemed to agree on one thing: however long you choose to do it, holding in smoke supposedly triggers a much more powerful result than when inhaling, and exhaling immediately after.

While we can’t exactly say that this is untrue, the reason why this happens is actually not linked to any kind of increase in cannabinoid intake …


J.IXO – “False. It just gets the lining of your lungs kinda screwed.”

W.A. – “Takes only milliseconds for the good stuff to pass through. Only need to make sure you inhale properly and you will be fine and dandy.”

A.L. – “It doesn’t and that’s not an opinion that is fact. That “higher” feeling you think you’re getting is literally just oxygen deprivation.”

As user A.L. confidently asserts in the above comment … the statement presented by our team was false! And it was never a question of opinion: science has proved it.

Indeed, many studies have been published on the topics of THC absorption, breath holding time, and the impact of cannabis smoke on the lungs. Many of them have been conducted in the ‘80s and ‘90s, which presumably explains why most current smokers seem to have missed the memo.

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The Science

E.S.T. – “False false false, if you don’t know this by now you’re ignoring the science.”

When inhaled by way of smoking, cannabinoids are transported to your lungs, where they are absorbed by its millions of alveoli. Via them, in a matter of seconds, they make their way through the bloodstream, and eventually to your brain.

The real question hidden behind the one we opposed to our community is the following: how long does it take for the lungs to absorb cannabinoids?

If quantifying the average smoking experience, 3-5 seconds is the threshold after which a crushing majority of the cannabinoids contained in a puff of smoke are fully absorbed by the lungs.

After that, most elements gaining more exposure from an increased breath holding time would be tar, as well as other lung-damaging compounds, not to mention carcinogenic elements if tobacco is part of the equation. There is evidence that some THC accompanies the aforementioned dangerous items, however, in such small quantities, that the health hazard that the rest of the process represents is far from outweighing this gain.

But don’t take our word for it! Here is a small collection of studies that have addressed the issue throughout the years:

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Why is everybody confused?

Numerous users have reported from the “True” side, confirming that the “holding in” method has worked wonders for them. This is very understandable, as several things may lead a consumer to think they are succeeding at absorbing more cannabinoids.


R.L. – “I don’t think so. Holding in smoke does not increase the THC intake, all it does is cut off the oxygen to your brain. This makes it seem like you’re higher but that “high” goes away once the oxygen is flowing to your brain again.”

As per mentioned by this user, when holding your breath in order to keep smoke in, you deprive your brain from oxygen. This state of oxygen deficiency is called Hypoxia. After a few seconds, this leads to a particularly convincing rush of “high”, which can be misconstrued as originating from the cannabis being consumed. As we saw earlier, it is partly true that more THC goes into your lungs in this particular situation. However, the amount of it is so slight, it is unlikely to play any part in the rush experienced.


A “ghost hit” is a puff of smoke that is held in until only an insignificant amount of it is left to exhale. To achieve such results, the smoker needs to hold smoke in for several minutes, breathing occasionally from the mouth or nose while actively keeping the smoke in. This is generally achieved via, well, holding one’s breath, or by practicing circular breathing.

This method is especially popular among those who can’t consume cannabis freely, but have easy access to it (such as young adults), and is generally used to conceal the use of cannabis from others.

This may explain why it is considered an integrant part of the average smoker’s experience. Following such intense oxygen deprivation, the “high” experienced, while almost entirely not cannabis-related, is undeniably impressive compared to your run-of-the-mill inhale-exhale puff. Many smokers are tricked into seeking the same level of high every time they smoke, which results in the misplaced but widely popular obsession around the “holding in smoke” technique.


If you are a beginner, or if it simply turns out to be one of these days, it is possible holding smoke in will make you cough violently at some point. Coughing, while not the most optimal method for expanding one’s lungs, does exactly that. This means that following a coughing fit, your lung capacity will increase, thus offering more surface area for cannabinoids to be absorbed.

However, this is most definitely not the recommended way to increase lung capacity. Instead, opt for breathing exercises prior to consuming cannabis, or work on your cardiovascular capacities!

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Your fellow community members’ advice

J.T. –“ If you inhale nothing and hold it in for long enough obviously you’ll feel a little high, it’s called oxygen deprivation, this is why people say they feel euphoria when drowning or being chocked, it can also give you brain damage if you’re determined enough.”

J.T. is right, and raises an interesting point: if you are excessively committed to experiencing a stronger “high”, this may eventually lead to dangerous incidents. From there, generally speaking, the advice is: DO NOT hold cannabis smoke in. So what to do instead?

You may recall this article stated earlier that 3-5 seconds is somewhat of a reasonable number to link to the process of cannabinoid absorption. BUT – this does not mean you need to “hold in” the smoke for 3-5 seconds. For one, breath holding time is not the sole parameter at play when it comes to the potential of a high.

J.B. – “Depends on THC potency, very low THC levels will be broken down and absorbed through the lungs almost instantaneously.

No need to hold anything in! Pace yourself, and smoke mindfully. If you’re doing it right, a slow inhale-exhale round should take you approximately 3 seconds.

J.D.B. – “It is not the duration of the holding that makes you higher, just the quantity of smoke inhaled.”

That’s right! Inhale more smoke. This does not mean you should inhale bigger hits. Quite the opposite, actually. Because a big hit is fairly high maintenance, you may end up coughing out half of it, or have to hold it in for a very long time in order to handle it without coughing. Instead, take regular-size puffs, and ensure you are thoroughly, slowly inhaling them. Essentially, just proceed with the usual inhale-exhale, only in a slower manner.

D.A. – “The lungs have limited surface area, holding doesn’t make cannabinoids circulate, but rebreathing does.”

As an alternative, rebreathing has at least the merit of being harmless. Rebreathing consists in exhaling smoke, and inhaling it back immediately after. In other words: taking full advantage of one’s own second hand smoke. However, keep in mind that the amount of cannabinoids present in second hand smoke is fairly low.

We hope you have found valuable advice in this rundown we had the pleasure to offer you, with the help of our beloved followers. Do you have anything else to say? Another study on the topic of breath holding time while consuming cannabis that you would like to share? Tell us in the comments below!

Does holding in smoke make you higher? This question has been around for decades. Read on to see what our community of cannabis enthusiasts thinks.

Busting The Myth Of Whether Holding In Weed Smoke Longer Gets You Higher

There seems to be a common misconception among stoners that holding in weed smoke for longer periods can somehow get you higher. Many believe that the longer you hold in the smoke, the more THC can enter your bloodstream, and therefore the higher you will be. In this article, we will explain how this is another cannabis myth and how long you actually need to be holding smoke in during your smoke sessions.

Why Holding In Smoke Doesn’t Get You Higher

If you’re a regular weed smoker, you may have heard that holding in weed smoke for longer amounts of time gets you higher. In actuality, holding in smoke for more than a few seconds is unnecessary. Human lungs can only hold about 5-6 milliliters of oxygen per minute. This is why when we smoke cannabis, 95% of THC is absorbed within the first few seconds. In the end, it doesn’t matter how long you hold in the smoke. Be it 3 seconds or 15, you’re already absorbing as much THC as you can in one breath.

Then Why Do I Feel Like It Works?

Why does it feel like holding in weed smoke gets you higher the longer you hold it in? The answer is, simply put, that you are getting lightheaded. The body needs to constantly filter oxygen through the lungs, and when you hold in a hit, you’re stopping your body from absorbing oxygen. This causes oxygen to be momentarily cut off from reaching your brain, which causes you to feel lightheaded. Lightheadedness, along with tingling sensations in the face or limbs, is often mistaken for getting extra blazed.

So How Long Should I Hold It In For?

You actually don’t need to hold in smoke for long to get all of the full effects of THC. The common consensus is that within the first 3 seconds of inhaling, about 95% of the cannabinoids have already been absorbed into the bloodstream. So if you’ve ever wondered if holding in weed smoke for longer will get you higher, the answer is no. The majority of the THC has already been absorbed.

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Alternatives To Holding In Smoke

If you want to get extra blazed when smoking, but are a little bummed now that you know how long to hold in weed to get as high as you can, you may be wondering if there are other ways to maximize your high. Here are three methods to try out yourself.

Practice Deep Breathing

One method you could try is to practice deep breathing. Usually, we take short, continuous breaths because our lungs can only hold so much air and oxygen. If you take the time to breathe deeper, your lungs can eventually develop the capacity to hold up to as much as 6 liters of air in one breath. Breathing deeper between hits can enlarge your lung capacity, and therefore the amount of THC you can consume in one breath.

Pack Another Bowl

Another method you can probably achieve in the moment is to just smoke more weed. If your tolerance is higher than others, you’ve probably been looking for shortcuts for weed to make you higher. Be kind to your lungs and stop holding in weed smoke to make you higher; instead, just smoke a little bit extra.

Try Smoking Something Stronger

If you’re short on weed and don’t want to smoke a little bit extra every time just to get extra high, you can try smoking stronger strains. There are plenty of strains that have high THC content for you to try out. You can also try stronger methods of cannabis use such as vaping or dabbing.

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So, Should I Keep Holding In All That Smoke?

So, should you? The answer is quite simply, no. Does holding in weed smoke get you higher? Unfortunately, it does not. However. there are other ways to get higher if you’re looking for a stronger psychoactive experience. Try stronger strains or simply smoking more. Either way, save yourself the trouble and only hold your smoke in for a few seconds – your lungs will thank you for it.

You may have heard that holding in weed smoke for longer amounts of time gets you higher. In this article, we will explain how this is another cannabis myth and how long you actually need to be holding smoke in during your smoke sessions.