Every seasoned Cannabis enthusiast has experienced it… the gradual buildup of how much Marijuana it takes to get one high. We’re going to explain everything from how our bodies process THC, how it builds a tolerance, and finally how to reduce ones tolerance to marijuana.
One of the safest qualities of THC, delta-9 tetrahydrocannabinol, (the primary psychoactive substance in cannabis), is the ability of the body to put a natural limit it’s effects. It has confused scientists how some people can consume huge quantities of cannabis and be just fine. But the explanation will not surprise regular cannabis users. Early researchers were alarmed by this, believing that this tolerance was a warning sign of dependence or addiction, similar to other (more dangerous) substances such as cocaine, heroin, and methamphetamine. However, this is untrue.
What is Tolerance?
Tolerance generally describes the condition of requiring larger doses of a drug to attain consistent effects. Regular smokers frequently claim that this tolerance reduces troublesome side effects, such as nervousness, paranoia, and loss of coordination. Many experienced smokers (and scientists too) claim that tolerance to marijuana develops without risk of dependence. Cynics have argued that tolerance is proof of dependence, and proof that the drug is too dangerous to be used safely and responsibly. Science has finally proven this notion wrong. Tolerance to marijuana is not an indication of danger or dependence.
How Tolerance Happens
Without getting too in-depth, our bodies are always trying to maintain homeostasis. (homeostasis – reaching equilibrium. For example our bodies maintain a body temp of 98.6 by sweating or shivering. At 98.6 our body has achieved a homeostasis body temp) As we introduce substances into our body, our bodies try to process these substances out of the body to return to “normal homeostasis”. The more often a substance is introduced, the better our bodies get at processing that substance. This process is called down-regulation, and it occurs with a lot of different chemicals, even chemicals that control emotions like happiness. Down-regulation is a mechanism of equilibrium for the brain – keeping very sensitive parts of the brain operating normally and chemically balanced.
There have been very few medical studies about tolerance. A 1955 N.I.M.H. Tolerance Study conducted by Miles Herkenham was one of the first and most credible – where the results surprised.
“It would seem backward that animals receiving the highest doses of cannabinoids would show the greatest and fastest return to normal levels of behavior, however, the receptor down-regulation in these animals was so profound that the behavioral correlate may be due to the great loss of functional binding sites.”
In other words, when the rats had had enough THC, their receptors simply switched off. Also studied here was a break from THC of 15 days or more, where tolerance was reduced nearly back to zero.
Starting a Tolerance Break
MJ can be habitual – if you smoke every day and can’t remember the last time you went a day without a toke… this process might be a bit tough. You’re probably a little dependent on it, whether to fall asleep, relieve pain, or ease nausea. So, you might have some trouble with these things. However, your body naturally is going to “re-program” and adjust back within a couple weeks. Its important to remember that excessive exposure can lead to excessive down-regulation and increased tolerance. The experience of ceasing smoking or medicating definitely depends on the person.
Compared to many other drugs (prescription or non), marijuana is easy to stop – and this ease is often the best reason for taking a t-break. These breaks can return your feelings of smoking back to your early days and require much less herb to get you where you need. Especially if you are on a tight budget or trying to get a job – taking a tolerance break can be very beneficial.
Things to Remember:
- Tolerance develops at a higher rate with higher concentration of products (using extracts and dabs will lead to your tolerance building quicker and much higher)
- Dosage Controls Effect – smoke less often to control affects and keep from building a tolerance.
- For best results, a tolerance break of 10-14 days will reduce tolerance on a short-term basis. For long-term and complete tolerance “reset” a month will likely be as long as you need.