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A Pause On Weed: A Guide Into Cannabis Tolerance Breaks

Feeling like cannabis is just an everyday habit? Feeling like it’s just another mundane activity? Find out below how you can get back to those early highs you felt as a kid!

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If you’re an avid cannabis smoker, you should know what a tolerance break is. If you don’t, it’s probably because you don’t need one.

It might be because of a new job or because the court told you to. You might be going to a not-so-cannabis-friendly holiday spot, or you’re travelling with family members who don’t partake on bong rips. Or maybe you’re just looking to enhance your cannabis experience. You miss those original highs. Maybe you’ve been feeling too cloudy for the past few months or even years. Whatever your reason is, we’ll be covering what to do and how to go about this “tolerance break” in the best way possible.

WHY STOP THE BEST FEELING IN THE WORLD?

When you smoke cannabis on a daily basis for months or years, you’ll probably start to feel like you’re not getting as high as you used to. You start reminiscing on those giggly highs you had as a kid, wondering why that doesn’t happen anymore. You’re not afraid of social interaction when you’re high AF. The squad always includes cannabis before any activity without even questioning it. This is a sign that you should probably take a tolerance break.

Most consumers do this because cannabinoid receptors (especially CB1 receptors) start to downregulate the reception of THC upon frequent and heavy use. It’s not just you getting used to the “high” feeling, it’s actually your physiology trying to adapt to your THC consumption and turning it into “normal.” It’s your body’s natural way of saying “well, if this is how it’s going to be, might as well be functional like this.” In a survival sense, your body tries to keep you aware and safe even after consuming THC because it knows this is how you are everyday.

Research [1] has shown that CB1 receptors begin to replenish themselves just after two days of a cannabis tolerance break. They will continue to do so for 3-4 more weeks until they are ready to accept back all the THC.

HOW TO BEGIN

It’s important that you really want to do this before you actually do.

Remember that time your parents got you into piano lessons for 6 straight years, but now you can barely remember the do-re-mi’s? This is exactly the same!

If deep down you’re doing this because of your girlfriend or because a couple of your friends are also doing it – it won’t work. You need to truly set your intention before you even decide on a time frame.

Choose a date. It’s super important to have a deadline. Don’t set out to take a break from anywhere in-between a few days to a couple of weeks. This will motivate the thought of “yeah, it’s been long enough” to shine through. Without a clear date, there will be nothing in your brain telling you that you haven’t already gone long enough.

Try to get a few friends to do it with you. It’ll be much easier to go through with the break if you don’t have your friends hotboxing the room you’re in. Bet on who’s going to last the longest. Safest to try it out with your roommate(s). This way, you’ll be keener into keeping the bet, rather than blazing when you get home. This would mean deviating from the main purpose of the bet.

IT WON’T BE EASY

It will be a hard task, but you need to commit. Commitment is the most important factor here. Be honest with yourself 100% of the way and always remember why you’re doing this. The last thing you want is to go a couple of days THC-free, then end up taking the strongest hits of your life with an overwhelming sense of guilt. Oh boy, you don’t want that. Worse than a super-high you can’t control is a super-high you can’t control filled with existential self-doubt.

Your body will have to adjust to the lack of THC it used to be supplied with. It won’t come close to an alcohol or heroin addiction recovery. You won’t feel physical pain. Because there are no addictive compounds to cannabis, all that you’ll feel will be psychological. You might experience some circumstantial depression and feel like stuff isn’t fun anymore, but after 10 days, you’ll be good as new.

TAKING A BREAK ISN’T THE ONLY WAY TO LOWER YOUR TOLERANCE

You’ll face difficulties, no doubt about that! But being prepared is half the way to success. Taking a break can be challenging, but sometimes total abstinence isn’t needed to give your body a chance to lower its tolerance to THC. Sure, nothing beats the high after a four-week break, but at least with these methods, you get to minimise the heartache of not smoking.

Cannabidiol (CBD) can help

All this tolerance talk about THC, but what about CBD? For those of you who don’t know, CBD is a cannabinoid, just like THC. The difference between these is that while THC causes a “high”, CBD does not. Cannabidiol has numerous applications in the medical field for this same reason. It gives users a relaxed feeling with its anti-anxiety benefits, while still keeping the mind functional. Even better, a study [2] suggests that CBD can help limit the rate at which THC binds to CB1 receptors. As a result, CBD can potentially reduce the high and support a quicker recovery.

Thankfully, there are a ton of options when it comes to consuming CBD over THC. CBD oils are the most popular, but if you miss the sensation of smoking, then CBD e-liquids are a fantastic substitute. If you truly want to replicate the feeling of rolling a joint while still benefiting from a reduction in THC, then the following CBD strains are a must-buy.

Both Solomatic CBD and Medical Mass feature high levels of CBD; 21% and 10% respectively. Even better, THC levels in both strains remain low, ideal for those looking to lower their tolerance without giving up on cannabis entirely.

Use exercise to take your mind off of not smoking

The benefits of putting in some extra exercise when trying to lower your tolerance are twofold. Firstly, it is a welcome distraction for when you get a craving to roll a joint. Every time you are tempted, go for a run or take the dog for a walk.

Secondly, researchers have suggested [3] that exercise might help your body shift the THC it stores in fat cells. Less build-up means a better high when you do decide to pick up where you left off. If you really don’t want to give up cannabis entirely, try doing exercise after you smoke to help shift the THC that little bit quicker. Regular exercise can go some of the way in keeping your tolerance down.

Cutting down goes a long way

It might sound simple, but if you usually have a joint when you wake up in the morning, and another before bed at night, try cutting one of them out of your routine. Reducing your intake by just one joint a day can have a dramatic effect on your tolerance to THC. Another handy tip is to change the size of the rolling papers you use. Smaller papers mean less weed can be packed into your joint. When it comes to actually lighting up, you’ll barely notice the difference, at least on the outside—on the inside, however, your CB1 receptors will be thanking you.

Try vaping instead of smoking

There is another way that your tolerance can be lowered, but it doesn’t involve consuming less or choosing an alternative strain. Instead, we can change the way that cannabis is consumed to improve its effectiveness. Vaped marijuana has a higher bioavailability than smoking, which means more of the THC can reach your bloodstream without needing to smoke more.

Changing up the way you consume your weed means you can stick to your favourite strain; just be warned that there will come a point when even vaping won’t be enough anymore. Once you reach this stage, sometimes a complete break is the only way to reset your tolerance.

ONLY YOU WILL KNOW HOW BEST TO LOWER YOUR TOLERANCE

Ultimately, the decision to take a break from cannabis will come down to willpower. We have already discussed that after smoking every day, giving up weed for a few weeks can be tough. Hopefully, by using some of the advice above, we can make that transition into a total T-break a little bit easier. You will find out which method works best for you, but don’t be afraid to give them all a try if you find yourself going back to your usual habits.

Just remember that the whole reason behind a tolerance break is to rekindle that magical moment of toking for the first time. Once your tolerance has been lowered, you can enjoy the journey all over again!

USE SOLOMATIC DURING YOUR TOLERANCE BREAK

If you miss the taste and smell of weed, as well as the physical rituals of your regular smoke sessions, why give up a good thing? With Solomatic, you can light-up or vape to your heart’s content, and still take a tolerance break. This groundbreaking strain contains practically no THC, so it’s a good ally during your pause on more potent cannabis.

Solomatic is a fast automatic strain with generous yields that can be harvested within two months of germination. Play your cards right, and you could have plenty of citrus-scented buds in your stash by the time you’re ready for a break. The flavour? It’s filled with the taste of candied lemon, spicy ginger, and fresh pine. You’ll barely miss your normal smoke!

Have you ever felt that weed is not getting you as high as it did before? Missing those giggly highs? Maybe you need a tolerance break.

How to Reset Your Cannabis Tolerance

Feel like cannabis isn’t working for you the way it used to? You might be dealing with a high tolerance.

Tolerance refers to your body’s process of getting used to cannabis, which can result in weaker effects.

In other words, you need to ingest more to get the same effects you once did. This can be particularly problematic if you’re using cannabis for medical reasons.

Fortunately, it’s pretty easy to reset your tolerance.

Cannabis tolerance develops when you use it regularly.

Tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) is the psychoactive compound in cannabis. It works by affecting the cannabinoid type 1 (CB1) receptors in the brain.

If you ingest THC often, your CB1 receptors are reduced over time. This means the same amount of THC won’t affect the CB1 receptors in the same way, resulting in reduced effects.

There’s no strict timeline for how tolerance develops. It depends on a range of factors, including:

  • how often you use cannabis
  • how strong the cannabis is
  • your personal biology

One of the most common ways to lower your cannabis tolerance is to take a break from using cannabis. These are often called “T breaks.”

Research shows that, while THC can deplete your CB1 receptors, they can recover over time and return to their previous levels.

The length of your T break is up to you. There’s no solid data on exactly how long it takes for CB1 receptors to recover, so you’ll have to experiment a bit.

Some people find that a few days does the trick. Most online forums advise that 2 weeks is the ideal time frame.

If you’re using cannabis for medical reasons, taking a T break might not be feasible. There are a few other strategies you can try.

Use cannabis products with a higher CBD-to-THC ratio

Cannabidiol (CBD) is another chemical found in cannabis. It doesn’t seem to lead to depletion of CB1 receptors, meaning it doesn’t cause you to develop tolerance the way THC does.

CBD won’t give you a “high,” but it does seem to have several potential health benefits, such as reducing pain and inflammation.

At many dispensaries, you can find products ranging from a 1-to-1 ratio to as high as 16-to-1.

Tightly control your doses

The less cannabis you use, the less likely you are to develop a tolerance. Use the minimum you need to feel comfortable, and try not to overindulge.

Use cannabis less often

If possible, use cannabis less frequently. This can help to both reset your tolerance and prevent it from coming back again in the future.

Many people who have developed a high tolerance do go through cannabis withdrawal when taking a T break or using less cannabis than usual.

Cannabis withdrawal isn’t necessarily as intense as withdrawal from alcohol or other substances, but it can still be quite uncomfortable.

You might experience:

  • mood swings
  • fatigue
  • headaches
  • cognitive impairment
  • diminished appetite
  • stomach problems, including nausea
  • insomnia
  • intense, vivid dreams

To help with these symptoms, make sure to get plenty of hydration and rest. You can also try using over-the-counter medications to deal with headaches and nausea.

Exercise and fresh air can help you feel alert and reduce any slumps in your mood.

The withdrawal symptoms might make it tempting to continue using cannabis. To keep yourself accountable, tell your loved ones that you’re taking a break.

While the symptoms are uncomfortable, the good news is that cannabis withdrawal symptoms usually only last for 72 hours.

Once you’ve reset your tolerance, keep the following in mind to keep your tolerance in check moving forward:

  • Use lower-THC products. Since it’s THC that leads to the depletion of your CB1 receptors, it’s wise to opt for products that are a bit lower in THC.
  • Don’t use cannabis too often. The more you use it, the higher your tolerance will be, so try to only use it occasionally or as needed.
  • Use a lower dosage. Try consuming less cannabis at a time, and try to wait a bit longer before re-dosing.
  • Use CBD instead. You may want to consider giving CBD-only products a try if you’re looking to reap the potential health benefits of cannabis. However, THC does have some benefits that CBD doesn’t seem to have, so this switch isn’t viable for everyone.

Keep in mind that tolerance might be unavoidable for some folks. If you find that you’re prone to developing a high tolerance, consider coming up with a plan to take regular T breaks as needed.

It’s pretty normal to develop a tolerance to cannabis if you use it often. In most cases, taking a T break for a week or two will reset your tolerance.

If that’s not an option, consider switching to products that are lower in THC or reducing your cannabis consumption.

Keep in mind that cannabis tolerance can sometimes be a sign of cannabis use disorder. If you’re concerned about your cannabis use, you have options:

  • Have an open and honest conversation with your healthcare provider.
  • Call SAMHSA’s national helpline at 800-662-HELP (4357), or use their online treatment locater.
  • Find a support group through the Support Group Project.

Sian Ferguson is a freelance writer and editor based in Cape Town, South Africa. Her writing covers issues relating to social justice, cannabis, and health. You can reach out to her on Twitter.

If you've been consuming weed for a while, you've probably developed a high tolerance along the way. Here's how to reset it and keep it from happening again.