Medically Reviewed by
Jason Crawford

Article Last Updated on January 5, 2023

When it comes to smoking weed, most cannabis users know their limits and how much they need to hit their “sweet spot.” However, it happens often that you need more weed than last time to achieve the same desired level of high. Seasoned users know this very well, and if you’re one of them, you already know that you’ve developed a higher marijuana tolerance.

This is a very common occurrence and it can happen to both recreational and medical marijuana users who regularly use weed. Even more importantly, smoking, and even vaping constantly can be taxing on your throat and lungs, and not to mention taxing on your wallet. 

It can be frustrating, but thankfully, there is something you can do to lower your weed tolerance, which is exactly what we’ll talk about in today’s article.

What Exactly Is Cannabis Tolerance and How Does It Develop?

Weed tolerance refers to the body becoming so used to the effects of weed that it becomes less responsive to its effects. In other words, when you use weed regularly, your body builds some initial tolerance, but over time, the tolerance increases and you need more weed to feel the same effects. 

When you consume weed, THC connects with the body’s endocannabinoid system by attaching to the CB1 receptors found in the brain (and other parts of the body) and increasing their activity. They start responding to it, which results in all kinds of psychoactive effects, also known as “getting high”. 

However, over time, THC can weaken or desensitize some of the cannabinoid receptors, making them less responsive, and over time, it can also reduce the number of receptors. You will notice all of this when the same amount of weed won’t cut it and you’ll need more.

Fortunately, this process is completely reversible. It has been observed that as soon as you stop taking cannabis, your cannabinoid receptors start returning to normal within 2 days, and it can take up to 4 weeks for them to be completely renewed.

What About CBD?

CBD is different from THC because it doesn’t bind to the cannabinoid receptors fully. It interacts with the endocannabinoid system, but in a more indirect way (as compared to THC). For this reason, CBD is non-intoxicating and doesn’t get you high, but it provides gentle relaxation and therapeutic benefits. 

Therefore, since it doesn’t modify the function of the receptors fully, you can’t build up a tolerance to CBD in the same way as with THC. This is why when we talk about weed tolerance levels, we always refer to THC.

How to Lower Weed Tolerance

As we said, the good thing about weed tolerance is that it’s reversible, so let’s look at what you can do to restore it and make your weed sessions more enjoyable.

Start Consuming Weed With Lower THC Levels

Switching to a low THC strain is a good first step. There are many Indicas and Sativas with higher CBD and lower THC levels that can offer you a quality high. In many dispensaries, you can even find weed strains that offer a 1:1 ratio of THC to CBD, such as Argyle and Cannatonic. 

The psychoactive effects may not be as pronounced, especially if you already have a high tolerance, but the experience will be pleasant, nonetheless. High CBD strains also provide medical benefits, such as decreased inflammation and pain relief. 

Consume Marijuana Less Often

Depending on how frequent of a user you are, it may help to start consuming marijuana less often than you usually do. This will give your body enough time to recover between sessions, but it’ll also prevent your tolerance from increasing even further. If you’re an infrequent user, this can help, but if you consume weed at least once a day, you’ll need a different approach.

Reduce the Amount of Weed You Consume

Consuming less cannabis than what you’re used to is another method that can help you lower your tolerance. You can reduce the amount of weed right off the bat, or you can do it gradually if you’re worried about withdrawal symptoms. 

With this method, your goal should be to either get your body used to a lower amount of weed or to eventually abstain from smoking cannabis for a while. 

To smoke less than before, you can make your joint smaller or load your bowl, bong, or vaporizer with less weed. One-hitters are an excellent choice for microdosing, especially in these situations. If your primary method is ingestion, just eat smaller amounts – halve the brownie or eat one gummy less than last time. At first, it might feel pointless and the high will not be as effective, but over time, you should start seeing improvements.

If you do not, it’s time to pull out the big guns.

Take a THC Tolerance Break

Taking a tolerance break is the single most effective method for restoring your cannabinoid receptors and it works every time. Also called a t-break, it’s deliberate abstinence from weed for at least two weeks until your cannabinoid receptors can reset and return to normal.

If you’re not a medical user relying on your medical marijuana therapy, you should consider taking a tolerance break. If you can’t do it cold turkey, gradually consuming less and less weed until you don’t anymore can be just as effective. Everyone is different, so you should just listen to your own body when it comes to taking tolerance breaks (and the process will be easier).

What Are the Chances of Experiencing Withdrawal Symptoms?

Stopping cannabis use doesn’t typically result in withdrawal symptoms, but it can happen depending on how frequently you use weed and how much. And the intensity of the withdrawal symptoms is also of a varying degree.

Chronic and heavy cannabis users are more likely to experience withdrawal symptoms because their cannabinoid receptors have become more resistant to THC in comparison to infrequent users.

Some users don’t experience any withdrawal symptoms at all while others may have some mild headaches, irritability, and/or decreased appetite. In general, withdrawal symptoms gradually decrease over the course of a few days up to a week. More pronounced symptoms usually last about two weeks.

When Is Weed Tolerance Good?

Having a high tolerance level to weed can sometimes be a good thing. For example, when your body is used to THC, you’re much less likely to feel any side effects. This could be useful for someone who’s been otherwise sensitive to the effects of THC and has been patiently building up their tolerance so they can enjoy weed better. In this case, you probably don’t want to reverse your weed tolerance completely, but maybe lower it to some extent without taking a tolerance break.

Bottom Line

It can be frustrating when you’re smoking marijuana like you usually do and nothing much happens because you’ve developed a high tolerance for weed. This just means that your body got really used to THC being around that it stopped responding to its effects. However, this is completely reversible and can be solved by taking a tolerance break, which is the best method for recovering your tolerance. Alternatively, you can try smoking less frequently or reducing the amount of weed you consume, or even switch to low-THC strains.

A passionate advocate for the benefits of cannabis. Fraser Horton, who has a background in botany and a strong love of nature, has spent years researching how cannabis affects the body and mind. He established Leaf Nation in 2020, where he has devoted himself to educating people about the legalisation of marijuana and its safe and responsible use. Fraser is committed to highlighting cannabis’ potential for improving wellness and working to dispel the stigma associated with its use.


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