What you will learn in this post:
- What Causes High Tolerance?
- Are There Negative Health Effects of High Weed Tolerance?
- How to Lower Weed Tolerance
- How to Maintain a Low Cannabis Tolerance
Does it feel like cannabis is losing its effect on you? Your body may have built up a tolerance over time, and the higher the tolerance gets, the more cannabis you need to consume to get the desired effects.
So what causes a high tolerance? What are the risks of increasing cannabis tolerance? And how can you lower your weed tolerance? Follow our fool-proof guide below.
What Causes High Tolerance?
When you consume marijuana or marijuana products, THC activates the cannabinoid receptors (CB1) found in your central nervous system and your brain.
This activation is ultimately what's responsible for the intoxicating effects you experience after eating an edible or smoking a preroll.
However, as this activation of the CB1 receptors becomes more frequent, your brain will actively try to minimize it in an effort to preserve regular CB1 activity.
So, the greater your consumption of cannabis, the more your brain actively tries to minimize CB1 activation. Of course, building tolerance isn't unique to marijuana. It's possible to develop a tolerance to many different things, including caffeine, alcohol, melatonin, and antidepressants.
Several different factors determine how quickly you might develop a tolerance to marijuana.
The Strength of the Cannabis
Your tolerance to marijuana is significantly influenced by the strength and potency of your weed. If you’re smoking top-shelf bud with nearly 30% THC every day, you’ll build up a tolerance faster than a consumer who smokes strains with 10-20% THC.
Frequency of Use
Like strength and potency, the frequency of cannabis use indicates how quickly your body will build a tolerance. Daily users will have a higher tolerance (and develop the tolerance at a much faster rate) compared to occasional users.
A Person's Unique Biology
Tolerance isn’t just about consumption habits. Your unique biology, especially in your brain chemistry, plays a role in how quickly and extensively you'll develop a tolerance to marijuana and other drugs.
Are There Negative Health Effects of High Weed Tolerance?
A high weed tolerance, in itself, doesn't necessarily come with any adverse health effects. However, people with high tolerances typically consume significantly more marijuana than those with little or no tolerances. And this, unfortunately, is where the adverse health effects may come in.
❌ Greater Risk of Respiratory Problems
Smoking anything, whether it be cannabis or something else, isn’t good for your lungs.
If you have a high tolerance, you'll need to smoke more cannabis to feel the same effects you're used to. Unfortunately, this naturally raises the risk of developing lung infections, inflammation, persistent coughing, and other respiratory problems.
❌ Potential Medical Interactions
A lesser-known risk of increased marijuana use is its potential interactions with several medications. For instance, marijuana use may adversely interact with several different antibiotics.
Not only that, THC is known for its potential interactions with SSRIs, a common type of antidepressant, which is designed to increase serotonin in the brain.
Finally, THC has the potential to interact with anesthesia, which may increase the risk of complications during surgery for heavy cannabis users.
❌ Greater Risk of General Adverse Effects
Whether you have a tolerance or not, marijuana use can produce adverse side effects in some consumers, especially in large dosages.
For instance, some people may feel anxious, dizzy, or nauseous after using cannabis. Because a high tolerance will typically lead to people using higher dosages, it naturally increases the risk of experiencing one or more of these undesirable side effects.
Furthermore, with greater tolerances and frequency in use, there could be a greater risk of developing Cannabinoid Hyperemesis Syndrome. CHS is a rare condition in which using marijuana causes severe and repeated vomiting. It typically arises after heavy, long-term cannabis use – which is more likely in users with high tolerances.
❌ Higher Cannabis Spending
Beyond adverse health effects, a high tolerance could negatively affect your wallet. A cannabis tolerance will have you consuming more weed. Consequently, this means that you'll need to spend more money at the dispensary.
Given the potential downsides of a higher tolerance, let’s look at the most effective ways to lower your weed tolerance.
How to Lower Weed Tolerance
✔ Take a Tolerance Break
Ultimately, the most effective and reliable way to lower your weed tolerance is by taking a tolerance break. A "T" break, as it is often called, involves taking one to three weeks off from marijuana use.
The reason you develop a tolerance in the first place is because of the reduced activation of CB1 receptors in your nervous system. But, this isn’t permanent. Research on the subject has indicated these CB1 receptors recover when they're not exposed to THC.
So, no matter how often or heavily you use marijuana, your tolerance can be lowered with a T break.
How long this break must be will depend on how developed your tolerance is and how frequently you use marijuana. Heavy users may need the entire three weeks, but more occasional users may only need a week or less.
✔ Reduce the Amount You Consume
If you're wondering how to lower your weed tolerance without taking a break, you can reduce the amount you consume. This may be the best course of action for medical marijuana patients who don’t have the luxury of abstaining entirely from cannabis use.
Instead of smoking a full preroll at the end of the day, you might only take a couple of hits from a bowl. You could even try microdosing.
Similarly, you can reduce the frequency with which you smoke. If you normally consume cannabis several times a day, try switching to once every day or two. One easy way to make this work is to use a one-hitter or chillum that only allows for small amounts of weed.
Again, reducing the amount of cannabis you consume may not be possible for certain medical marijuana patients who use specific dosages to treat medical conditions. If you are a med patient looking to reduce your THC tolerance, consult with your physician before making any changes to your recommended dose.
✔ Try Marijuana With a Higher CBD-to-THC Ratio
Another thing you can try is switching to marijuana products with a much higher CBD-to-THC ratio than you typically use.
Many dispensaries offer patients a range of products rich in CBD that place a smaller emphasis on their THC content. Of course, CBD does not produce the same effects as THC, but the right ratio can give you the desired results while simultaneously helping lower your cannabis tolerance.
✔ Switch Cannabis Strains
If you're the kind of marijuana connoisseur that tends to only purchase one specific strain of cannabis, try incorporating other strains or products into your routine. Every cannabis strain is unique: each offers varying levels of CBD and THC, as well as other cannabinoids and terpenes, that can change how the strain interacts with your body.
While it won’t be as effective as taking a T break or reducing your use, trying different strains can help you lower your weed tolerance without completely stopping using marijuana.
✔ Try Consuming Different Kinds of Cannabis Products
Another thing to consider when trying to lower your THC tolerance is trying different methods of consumption.
For example, if you're someone who typically uses cannabis concentrates (which are incredibly potent), you can temporarily switch to smoking flower. If you typically smoke to alleviate muscle or joint pain, consider incorporating a non-intoxicating cannabis topical into your daily routine.
While it all may be marijuana, different consumption methods will uniquely affect your tolerance.
✔ Start Exercising More Frequently
Finally, the last thing you can try to lower your weed tolerance is exercising more.
THC is stored in the fat cells of your body. Exercise, especially cardiovascular exercise, will help your body burn fat and, by extension, the THC stored in your body.
So, let's say you want to lower your weed tolerance with a T break. Increasing your exercise will help shorten the time it takes for the THC stored in your body to release, lowering your tolerance faster (so you can take a shorter T break).
Not only that, exercise is good for you! There’s a reason they call it a runner’s high.
How to Maintain a Low Cannabis Tolerance
While all these methods can help lower your tolerance, they aren’t permanent solutions, and it’s possible your tolerance will creep back up, especially if you're a frequent user.
Think of lowering your tolerance like losing weight: occasional diets (or T breaks) can help, but the most effective solution is developing a routine that you can stick to. Essentially, you should consider how you can combine the above recommendations – taking periodic breaks, reducing overall consumption, or avoiding super-potent products – into a sustainable routine.
While this may be a bit of a bummer, the good news is that your tolerance doesn't take that long to go back to normal. THC lasts only approximately 21 days in the body, meaning your tolerance will return to normal after this time.
If you use cannabis products several times in a three-week span, THC inevitably builds up in your system.
But while a high tolerance may make it necessary to consume more cannabis to produce the effects you're used to, there are plenty of things you can try to help lower or eliminate your tolerance.
The information in this article and any included images or charts are for educational purposes only. This information is neither a substitute for, nor does it replace, professional legal advice or medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. If you have any concerns or questions about laws, regulations, or your health, you should always consult with an attorney, physician or other licensed professional.