It’s one of the annoyances that regular weed users have to suffer.
When you first start smoking, it’s great. The effects hit the way they’re supposed to, the experience is enjoyable, and you definitely want to go back for more.
Then…it’s just not quite the same.
You have to consume more bud in order to get high, and you rip through your stash faster and faster. If you’re a medical marijuana patient, the relief may not be as fast or as complete as it used to be.
What’s the problem? It’s the dreaded “weed tolerance” that’s experienced by just about everyone whose body becomes accustomed to the effects of cannabis.
The usual advice for reversing weed tolerance is to let the body “reset” by putting down the pipe for at least 2-4 weeks.
That works, but it might not be necessary — or desirable for those who love the green. Here’s what else you can try.
What Causes Weed Tolerance?
As you probably know, the THC in cannabis delivers its effects by interacting with the body’s endocannabinoid system (ECS). That system controls an enormous number of key processes throughout the body, keeping many of our daily functions like mood, memory, appetite, and sleep in balance.
How is THC able to do that? By binding to receptors located in the brain and the rest of the body, blocking some normal ECS messages and sending some of its own.
The more weed a person uses, the more of an abnormal workout they’re giving those ECS receptors, and the more desensitized the receptors become. More and more THC is required to stimulate the receptors enough to provide the desired psychoactive or medicinal effects.
The extent of a smoker’s weed tolerance can vary depending on how often and how much they smoke, the potency of the strains they use, and their genetics. But tolerance doesn’t just develop by chance. It happens to virtually every cannabis user over time.
Here’s the good news: it’s possible for ECS receptors to return to their normal level of function once they’re not being bombarded with THC regularly.
Here’s the bad news: the only surefire way to let ECS receptors reset is to take what’s usually called a tolerance break, or t-break for short. That’s not just street wisdom; it’s been documented in the journal Molecular Psychology.
How long do you have to lay off weed in order to return to the good old days of getting wasted on a few hits? For occasional users, it could be just a few days. Regular users usually need at least two weeks. And habitual, heavy smokers might have to abstain for one or two months before their tolerance returns to “normal.”
That’s not the answer most readers are looking for, of course, so let’s check out some of the ways they might be able to reduce tolerance levels without taking a t-break.
Ways to Lower Weed Tolerance Without Stopping Smoking
Not all of these methods will work for all smokers, but they have helped many people reset their THC tolerance levels — and, we’re happy to say, you can use them over and over again.
1. Try Different Weed
This is the first step you can try if you want to lower your tolerance without changing your weed use all that much.
It may simply require switching from a sativa (or sativa-dominant hybrid) to an indica, or vice versa, particularly if you’re not a heavy smoker. The two types of cannabis have different biological properties and affect the body differently, so this simple change might be enough to “fool” the ECS receptors into resetting your tolerance.
You could also try different strains or ones with higher or lower THC-to-CBD ratios. There’s no guarantee, but if it works, you may not have to even cut back.
2. Try a Different Way of Using Weed
If you usually smoke, you might want to switch to vaping or dabbing for a while. The ways that cannabinoids in marijuana are extracted and used by the body vary slightly with the consumption method, and some people have found this change to be enough to restore their lower tolerance level.
Edibles could be an even better approach if you’re going to switch things up.
When you smoke or vape, THC goes straight into the bloodstream and is sent to the ECS receptors. The THC in weed edibles, however, is rerouted to the liver once the food has been digested. There it’s metabolized into a similar but different psychoactive substance, 11-hydroxy-THC, which is actually what interacts with the ECS.
That difference could do the trick, and even better, 11-hydroxy-THC delivers a more potent and longer-lasting high.
3. Try Changing Your Routine
The body and mind can each become accustomed to getting high at the same time(s) every day. The anticipation leading up to those times may end up requiring more THC to achieve the results you expect. Smoking up at different times may surprise the body and brain and allow you to get high more quickly.
The best change of routine to restore a lower weed tolerance? Skipping the wake-and-bake. It’s just human nature; if you get baked early, you’ll be more likely to keep going throughout the day. That increases your natural tolerance and makes it more enjoyable when you do finally spark up.
That’s a gentle way to approach our next suggestion.
4. Try Smoking Less
We know this one isn’t anybody’s first choice — but it’s better than taking a break for two weeks, four weeks, or even longer, right?
If you smoke twice a day, try making it just once. If it’s normally four times a day, try cutting back to two. If it helps, just consider it a “mini t-break” with benefits; if it works, you’re restoring your lower tolerance while still being able to enjoy your weed every day.
Another approach is to microdose instead of getting wasted. Switching to a one-hitter (or a mini vape pen, if you’re a vaper) allows you to smoke more often, but still smoke less each day.
It’s possible that you may have to bite the bullet and take an honest-to-goodness tolerance break if none of these methods work for you. But do you remember what those first few hits felt like when you were a new smoker? Taking a brief break from weed to regain that feeling might even be worth the short-term sacrifice.
How to Lower Weed Tolerance Without a Tolerance Break: FAQ
Q: Does cutting back on weed, without stopping completely, fully restore your tolerance?
A: It does for some people but not for others. It depends on your body, genetics, and normal smoking habits — but it works for enough people that it’s definitely worth a try.
Q: I’ve heard that exercising for 30 minutes after you smoke can lower your tolerance. Is that just a fantasy?
A: Some people swear by it, and they also say that it intensifies the high. The scientific argument is based on a theory: since exercise increases fat burning, fat-soluble THC may be purged from the body more quickly without increasing tolerance. You’ll also hear that eating mangoes could help, but that won’t affect tolerance; it simply may make for a better high, because mangoes contain the terpene myrcene which binds to the same ECS receptors as THC.
Zou, S., & Kumar, U. (2018). Cannabinoid receptors and the endocannabinoid system: signaling and function in the central nervous system. International journal of molecular sciences, 19(3), 833 .
Hirvonen, J., Goodwin, R. S., Li, C. T., Terry, G. E., Zoghbi, S. S., Morse, C., … & Innis, R. (2012). Reversible and regionally selective downregulation of brain cannabinoid CB1 receptors in chronic daily cannabis smokers. Molecular psychiatry, 17(6), 642-649 .
Lemberger, L., Martz, R., Rodda, B., Forney, R., & Rowe, H. (1973). Comparative pharmacology of Δ 9-tetrahydrocannabinol and its metabolite, 11-OH-Δ 9-tetrahydrocannabinol. The Journal of clinical investigation, 52(10), 2411-2417 .