cannabis tolerance

What is Cannabis Tolerance? Taking a T-Break

For most, cannabis tolerance is likely not stagnant. Life is unpredictable, and there will likely come times where you indulge more or less frequently, depending on particular circumstances, lifestyles, testing or whatever else is thrown your way.

That said, as we’ll soon learn, there are benefits to taking a tolerance break from weed entirely. Moreover, understanding the ins and outs of cannabis tolerance and why you may want to take some time off can help put things back into perspective and reset your tolerance level back to a more manageable range. 

These considerations are some of the most effective methods for maintaining an overall healthy relationship with cannabis, free of weed addiction, dependency or other unhealthy habits.

So, that said, what is cannabis tolerance, and why should you care about it? 

In this article, we’ll learn all about cannabis tolerance and how it impacts your various weed-infused experiences, including the intensity of the effects and how long they last, not to mention how much you need to spend on weed to compensate for varying tolerance levels. 

With all this on the horizon, let’s just get straight into it! 

How to Measure Your Cannabis Tolerance?

At this point, you may be wondering to yourself, “what is cannabis tolerance, and how can I measure it?” 

You can think of cannabis tolerance as developing a resistance to the effects of THC and other cannabinoids over time. The rate of resistance will factor directly into how susceptible you are to the effects of weed, with the frequency of use being the most vital element. 

The good news is that tolerance develops for the side effects of THC rather quickly. The bad news is that an increase in cannabis tolerance also extends to the intenseness of the impacts and symptomatic relief provided by marijuana. 

With this in mind, whether you are consuming recreational or medical cannabis is a consideration we will continue to use to help guide this conversation.

Unfortunately, there are no quick and easy ways to measure your cannabis tolerance. 

For recreational consumers, the best metric is how much weed you need to smoke each day to experience the desired effects, which, in itself, is an individual metric based on factors such as body fat percentage, age, gender, and metabolism. 

On the other hand, medical patients should consider what dosage is needed to provide symptomatic relief. These two viewpoints are intimately intertwined, but an important distinction nonetheless.

From a practical standpoint, several factors may determine a person’s specific cannabis tolerance. 

For instance, marijuana is known to increase heart rate and decrease short-term memory. If you find a small impact of cannabis on your heart rate and short-term memory, you have tolerance.

However, as we previously pointed out, your cannabis tolerance is subject to change and will likely not remain at the same level consistently. 

How Fast or Slow Does Your Tolerance to Cannabis Change?

cannabis tolerance timeline

As we touched on briefly above, the development of tolerance depends on you and your cannabis consumption habits. Generally speaking, the more you use, the faster your tolerance will adjust. 

Likewise, the reversal of tolerance will require longer depending on your cannabis consumption habits over time.

Developing tolerance to the various effects of THC appears to occur relatively rapidly and is maintained over time.  Opposingly, the tolerance to the intensity of the effects seems to take longer and slowly compound over time.

We can also think of tolerance as the opposite of sensitivity.  Every time we consume cannabis, we lower the sensitivity of our cannabinoid receptors just a little bit. Put another way, the more we use it and the longer we use it, the more this sensitivity declines. 

We do not want to be overly sensitive, as this can lead to prominent side effects, but a lack of sensitivity reduces the potency of the effects and symptomatic benefits.

In this way, cannabis tolerance and how long it takes to build up this resistance is an innately personal thing that comes down to your individual usage habits.

Take a minute to think about the following questions: How quickly do you notice the effects decrease in intensity from the same dosage/product? How long do you feel the effects of weed? Do you find yourself having to ingest more to experience the same desired effects?

The answers to these inquiries will give you a relatively clear idea of where your cannabis tolerance levels are.

How Long Does it Take for Cannabinoid Receptors to Return to Normal?

We do not yet have a clear understanding of how long it takes for cannabinoid receptors to reset after cannabis use completely. Again, it’s unique to the individual. It comes down to how much weed you smoked and how frequently your cannabis use extended. 

These elements impact how long cannabinoids may be floating around your system. At this point, our best guess around receptor resetting is based on studies around abstinence and drug testing.

We know that the impacts of THC on the CB1 receptors in our brain change over time as tolerance develops. In other words, over time, a similar dose will produce less significant impacts on our CB1 receptors after repeated administrations. 

Someone who has smoked once may clear their system within a day or two of a tolerance break. Those who have consumed more and for longer may take up to two weeks to a month to completely clear their system. 

During this time of clearing out residual compounds, our cannabinoid receptors will slowly adjust to the new normal.

And so, once again, it is more important to look inward. Only you can know how long it takes for a particular dose of weed to produce the same effects as it did the initial time. 

You may not ever return to an incredibly high level of sensitivity, but we can pay attention to our progress. In general, the less cannabis you’ve consumed in your lifetime, the easier it will be to return to normal. 

How to Reset Your Cannabis Tolerance

cannabis tolerance how to reset

The best and only way to reset your cannabis tolerance is by abstaining from weed. Consumers call this process by many names, including a tolerance break, T-break or THC detox

As much as many would like there to be, there are no shortcuts or cheats along the way here, and you may experience some unsavoury weed withdrawal symptoms along the way to reaching your optimal, more acceptable cannabis tolerance level. 

These symptoms are the result of your body attempting to readjust to the abrupt decrease of THC in its system that it had previously become accustomed to.

With this in mind, there is no one-size-fits-all solution for resetting your cannabis tolerance. Depending on your current usage levels, you may not want to do a cold-turkey tolerance break. 

In these contexts, it is likely better to reduce your consumption over several days or even weeks by gradually decreasing your dosage in these situations. After this time, once the dosage level is low enough, a complete break will be more plausible. 

However, it’s important to note that even the best reset of cannabis tolerance may not be a complete return to normal. While many users may dream of experiencing the same effects as one of those first instances they tried cannabis, this outcome may not be entirely achievable. 

How Long is a T-Break?

Based on the research we cited earlier, the best guess surrounding when your body would likely regulate its tolerance for cannabinoids such as THC and other chemical compounds in cannabis is currently 28 days. 

In other words, current evidence predicts that 28 days of abstinence should be enough to provide a complete reset of your cannabinoid receptors. Many advocates of the T-break recommend a 3-week timeframe, but shorter suggestions also exist.

Ultimately, it comes down to the particular individual and their frequency of use.

It is important to note that any amount of time spent on a tolerance break is time well spent. Daily users of cannabis who return to periodic use will note an improvement. Even taking one full day off can provide a quick reduction in your tolerance. 

That said, the more time, the better, it seems.

Should I Take a Tolerance Break?

Ultimately, cannabis tolerance develops over time. More specifically, tolerance levels typically build gradually, resulting in reduced sensitivity to THC. 

Tolerance to the effects of THC develops rapidly and is beneficial to us. However, developing tolerance to the potency leads to a less intense experience and diminishing therapeutic benefits, particularly when users ingest cannabis frequently.

In summary, any time spent conducting a tolerance break can help reduce one’s tolerance. Recreational consumers can benefit from a THC detox, both in maintaining appropriate levels to experience the desired effects and maintaining a healthy relationship with marijuana overall. 

Medical patients may benefit from reducing their daily dosage and taking small breaks under the supervision of medical professionals.

Finally, these situations are innately personal, and only the individual user can know when it’s time to reevaluate and determine whether a tolerance break is necessary. That said, experiencing weed withdrawal symptoms is a normal and predictable outcome of halting marijuana use, especially in regular consumers. 

With this in mind, it’s best to let your friends, family or medical professional know if you experience any of these symptoms to help stay on the right track, increase accountability and promote the best conditions for success.

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