What Is Cannabis Tolerance?

Cannabis tolerance: what is it and can you develop one? It’s all about balance. Learn if, and when, you need to take a tolerance break.

We, as well as scientists, are still learning how to keep ourselves in balance while consuming cannabis. Why? Because it’s unique, organic, wild, and free — before and after we consume it. And like cannabis, every one of us is also unique, so we can only do our best to keep our cannabis consumption in check. And heaven forbid, for some of us, we may even need to take a break.

What is a cannabis tolerance?

So, you try a little cannabis to relieve some stress from your day and you like what you feel. Maybe you try a little more to figure out your ideal daily dose and preferred method of intake (edible, concentrate, bud, etc.) and then find a nice mix-and-match regime, depending on your mood. But, as days turn into weeks, you seem to feel the need to increase your daily dose to get the same effects. Now, why is that?

As we’ve said before in Cannabis and the Entourage Effect, THC binds to and activates our CB1 receptors in our brains to create a certain “high” effect in our bodies, affecting our sleep, appetite, pain level, and more. If our CB1 receptors are exposed to THC on a regular basis, over time, they become desensitized from their regular interaction with THC and begin to weaken and become less receptive. Our amazing bodies love to keep us in homeostasis so the brain does what it can to preserve the level of our receptor activity. Thus, we need to consume more to achieve our regular high and so, the tolerance begins.

How do we know if we’ve developed a tolerance? We check in with ourselves weekly to make sure. Have we…A: gone outside? B: eaten a healthy meal? C: seen/spoken to a friend/family member? D: fulfilled an important task? and E: exercised?

A good rule of thumb is to be able to say “yes” to at least one of these questions to be in an okay zone.

Is cannabis tolerance actually a thing?

You bet. Even research into cannabis tolerance exists, from psychological to physical effects. Many of these studies report conflicting results, most likely because of so many variants among the participants, from history of cannabis use, frequency of use, and cannabis strength used to personal biology. That said, a systematic review of these studies examines these studies and the effects of regular and non-regular cannabis use in order to identify evidence for the development of cannabis tolerance in humans. A few highlights of this literature review include:

  • Cannabis has less prominent effects in regular users compared to non-regular users
  • The behavioural and physiological effects of cannabis lessen over repeated exposure
  • Cognitive function is the domain showing the highest degree of tolerance

Just as we suspected. How about you?

How to fix a cannabis tolerance

Don’t fret, there are ways to break the barriers your receptors are building. Here’s a few:

  • Use a higher CBD to THC ratio, as CBD is known to keep your brain’s receptors from working so hard to keep you regulated and to still give you the health benefits you need. Read What’s the Difference Between THC and CBD.
  • Decrease your usage of cannabis. Maybe try skipping a day between doses and do something physically active instead? Just a thought.
  • Lighten your dose. We know the effects won’t meet your “high” expectations but try embracing the minimalist in you. You never know.

If none of these are your thing, read on.

Taking a cannabis break and how long it should last?

There’s a lot of info out there on how to take a cannabis tolerance break, or better known as “t-break”. It can work for many of us that need guidance and could be a great way to have your cake and eat it too while you restore your mental and physical balance. But, it’s not an easy road. Finding a balance with cannabis is hard enough so achieving it without it can be even harder. Cannabis can create dependency so a t-break may be for you if it’s become your go-to ailment.

The option to go “cold turkey” is always there but isn’t for everyone. So, create your support system. Tell your friends you’re taking a break from cannabis, so you have some accountability while embarking on your endeavour. Alternatively, you can blog, tweet, or journal about your experience or join a cannabis forum to find others who have done or are experiencing this too (could be overkill for you…or not). Oh, and don’t forget to clear your space of any cannabis. Smoke all that up before you break. Finally, pick a length of time for you to begin your cannabis-free journey; because having a hard goal line is key to reaching it.

Passing a joint