Dr. David Pompei, PharmD, MS
In this article, we will answer the question, “does weed slow down your reaction time?”, explore why weed affects your reaction time, and how to mitigate this side effect.
The answer to “does weed slow down your reaction time?” is well-established. Scientists have long known that THC negatively impacts reaction time. Numerous within subject, double blind, placebo-controlled laboratory studies have indicated that cannabis produces a dose-dependent impact on reaction time, where higher doses of THC produce greater impairment in reaction time. Why does weed slow down your reaction time?
Reaction time is defined as the amount of time between when we perceive something and when we respond to it. There are several important components to reaction time including perceiving the stimulus, processing the stimulus as something to respond to, and responding, which involves action and “motor agility.” Unlike mental processing, reaction time involves a motor component. That is why reaction time is often viewed in the context of having fast reflexes.
Various factors can affect reaction time like how complex the stimulus is, how familiar it is, whether it is an auditory or visual stimulus, and the state of the organism. Good reaction time is critically important for activities like driving, having a conversation, or playing with your children. To perform these activities, you must decide how to behave based on new events occurring in a seconds-to-minutes range.
So, why does weed slow reaction time? We have established that reaction time involves two components: perception of a stimulus and a motor response to the stimulus. Cannabis is well-known to alter time perception, but this effect declines with tolerance. Studies have indicated that cannabis reliably alters time perception, and typically these changes are consistent with a “speeded internal clock.”
Altering time perception could impair one’s ability to accurately perceive and respond to a stimulus. THC has been shown to temporarily impair time estimation in the seconds range, which negatively impacts reaction time.
Additionally, reaction time necessarily involves a component of motion or motor activity. As we discussed in Does Weed Affect Coordination and Movement, THC in cannabis can cause impaired movement or coordination issues due to the way cannabis interacts with areas of your brain that govern movement.
By altering your perception of time in the seconds-minutes scale and impairing your motor response, cannabis slows down your reaction time. That is one of the reasons why you should never drive or operate heavy machinery while under the influence of marijuana.
Here are some general suggestions on how to mitigate side effects from cannabis, and then we will explore some specific suggestions about how to fix slow reaction time from weed.
Try a new product
Different cannabis products will contain different chemical compounds like cannabinoids and terpenes, which may exert distinct effects. Use Jointly’s Product Finder to discover new top-rated products.
Try a new ingestion method
Additionally, the way you ingest a product will change how it affects you. Smoking a joint of cannabis flower may produce slightly different effects from vaporizing it, although both ingestion methods involve heating cannabis and inhaling the active compounds. Each ingestion method has its own advantages and may produce different effects or side effects. To learn how different weed ingestion methods produce different effects, read our article The Best Way to Take Cannabis for Wellness Purposes.
Add in a companion food
Did you know that weed companion foods can enhance your cannabis experience in different ways? Mangoes, dark chocolate, green tea, and thyme are all weed companion foods. Chemical compounds in these foods may alter your cannabis experience, and potentially mitigate adverse side effects like drowsiness. To learn about these foods and how to add them into your cannabis wellness routine, check out our article Do These Foods Get You Higher?
Find your minimum effective dose
Most adverse side effects from cannabis are caused by ingesting too high of a dose of THC. While you cannot die from ingesting too much cannabis, a THC overdose is a real risk. The single most effective way to mitigate side effects is to microdose and titrate up your dose until you find the minimum effective dose of cannabis to get the effect you want.
Turn the dials on 15 factors
According to cannabis experts, there are at least 15 factors that can impact your cannabis experience and play a major role in whether a cannabis product is giving you the feeling you want, or producing adverse side effects like slow reaction time. You might find that the amount of sleep you got last night has the greatest impact on whether cannabis gives you this side effect or not. The Jointly app lets you to track the 15 factors that can impact your cannabis experience. As you optimize how you consume cannabis, your favorite cannabis products will perform better for you.
Like with most adverse side effects from cannabis, the most reliable way of reducing this side effect is by building up a tolerance to this effect.
However, building a tolerance may require high doses of THC and consistent cannabis use, which may not be in line with your wellness goals.
You can also try to consume CBD alongside THC to buffer some of the adverse effects of THC. CBD partially antagonizes the receptors that THC binds to, making it more difficult for THC to bind and create its psychoactive effects, including the distortion of time and impairment of movement that slow down your reaction time.
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The Jointly app also helps you improve your cannabis experiences by uncovering what’s working and what’s not with reflections and personalized insights. In fact, the quality of your diet, how much you slept, who you’re with, and the time of day are just some of the factors that can impact your cannabis experience.
So if you're ready to find your best products and enjoy your perfect cannabis experience, download the Jointly app today on the App Store or Google Play, or shop your matches on the Jointly website. Discovery awaits.