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Many smokers don’t know that there’s a foolproof way to increase the potency of all of the cannabis that they consume. Proven by multiple research studies and millions of anecdotal testimonies, this simple solution requires no high-tech gadgets, expensive therapy sessions, or complicated juicing regimes. Best of all: It simply works. Every time.

Whether using cannabis medically or recreationally, all cannabis consumers want to get the biggest bang for their bud buck. But what about chronic smokers who regularly indulge in wake-n-bake and plow through a quarter ounce in record time? It’s a sad reality: The more one smokes, the higher one’s tolerance. And a strong tolerance, of course, means patients and consumers smoke more and get high less — all while spending more money.

The solution for those who think their tolerance may have gotten out of hand isn’t a special cleanse or a pharmaceutical treatment. Instead, it’s simple abstinence. Many cannabis users report achieving a noticeably lower tolerance after only three days of laying off the ganja.

The Studies

Heavy use of cannabis simply desensitizes the CB1 receptors found in the brain and nervous system that receive and respond to THC and other cannabinoids. But what does the scant research that’s been conducted into cannabis and its interaction with the human body indicate?

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study published in 2002 entitled “Study of Cannabinoid Dependence in Animals” that was published in the journal Pharmacology & Therapeutics revealed not only that tolerance to cannabis occurs, but that its onset happens fairly quickly. It other words, it doesn’t take much to jack one’s tolerance sky high — especially if they are consuming high-THC, top-shelf strains.

“Following the chronic administration of cannabinoids, tolerance develops to most of their pharmacological effects. The development of cannabinoid tolerance is particularly rapid, and seems to be due to pharmacodynamic events.”

A 2003 study published in the European Journal Of Pharmacology that intended to study physical dependence indicated that heavy, chronic cannabis use results in a “desensitization of cannabinoid CB1 receptors.” Some studies have also indicated that the number of receptors may decrease after prolonged, heavy use without breaks.

Research conducted in 2011 and published in the journal Psychopharmacology revealed that heavy consumers of marijuana develop a tolerance to the behavior impairment that is typically associated with THC.

“Data from the present study confirmed that chronic cannabis users develop tolerance to the behaviorally impairing effects of THC.”

Basically, this means that heavy users learn how to mitigate negative or revealing symptoms of cannabis use, possibly to avoid arrest or appear normal to disapproving family or co-workers.

A 2012 study into the neurophysiological effects of both occasional and heavy cannabis use indicated that “heavy cannabis users develop tolerance to some of the impairing behavioral effects of cannabis.” Thus, researchers concluded that heavy consumers are better able to divide their attention between multiple tasks. In other words, those who heavily indulge in smoking or vaping are more likely to acclimate to the state of being high and are better able to behave and operate normally. Of course, the downside of this acclimation is a reduced sensitivity to the effects of their medicine.

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A 2013 study published in the Journal Of Analytical Toxicology indicated that heavy users do indeed develop a tolerance to THC. The study concluded:

“Oral THC produced tolerance to subjective intoxication, but not to cardiovascular effects.”

Thus, this study indicates that there is tolerance to the perceived euphoria delivered by THC, but not to the medical benefits of decreased blood pressure and increased heart rate.

Tolerance Reduction Strategies

If one’s goal is to reduce their tolerance to cannabis and THC, there are a few options other than complete abstinence. First, instead of getting an ounce of a single strain, consumers should instead consider small amounts of multiple strains. This will deliver a variety of cannabinoid profiles to the body’s endocannabinoid receptors.

Second, attempt to consume less frequently and smaller quantities during each session. Some chronic consumers designate one or more days each week in which they forego the sacred herb. Others smoke only on weekends.

According to doctors at Medicann, a network of cannabis physicians in California, the length of a tolerance break is not the only consideration. Also important is the frequency of such breaks. The group suggests that chronic smokers who take a one-week break every three months can maintain a reasonable tolerance and continue to enjoy a desired level of euphoria and medical efficacy.

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Other Benefits

Reducing one’s tolerance to THC obviously helps maximize one’s satisfaction with the herb, saves money, and stretches one’s supply (especially valuable for those relegated to purchasing from a black market). However, the simple act of abstaining proves to one that they aren’t dependent on or addicted to cannabis. Decades of Reefer Madness and other propaganda from prohibitionists has convinced many — sometimes even regular smokers — that they may be addicted to the kind herb. Regular tolerance breaks prove that one is simply enhancing their life with cannabis, not a desperate addict in search of their next fix.

For those who have never indulged in a tolerance break, it’s typically easier than it sounds. Because of the complete lack of physical addiction to cannabis and the cannabinoids therein, users — regardless of how heavily they have consumed the herb — experience no significant negative side effects from abstaining. Possible side effects of a tolerance break include a lack of sleep, loss of appetite, and some grouchiness.

Not getting the same kick out of your herbal refreshment and want to really reset your clock? Take a week off. Your CB1 receptors will thank you.

Photo credit: Drug Policy Alliance

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