What is cannabis tolerance?

Lightning up the joint or eating some edibles, you sit there waiting for the definite effects, but nothing happens? Then you go to the coffeeshop and get some cannabis materials, then increase the dose and only then obtain the desired high you used to? Watch out! It seems that you’re on your way to cannabis tolerance. Don’t know what it means and what should you do? Read the article to the end to get all the answers.

Illustration for the article on cannabis tolerance

What is cannabis tolerance?

So, let’s start with the very beginning or definition of what is cannabis tolerance? To put it simply, tolerance to weed is the adaptation of the brain to the cannabinoids. When consuming regularly, you and your brain become a bit resistant to the active components of the weed such as THC. That’s why you need to gradually increase the dosage to obtain the same effect as you used to. Herewith, if vaping/eating/smoking weed every day, get ready to deal with high tolerance as a result. Yes, it’s the biggest drawback of cannabis consumption.

How does cannabis tolerance work?

Due to a neurological phenomenon downregulation, you can develop marijuana tolerance. Though it happens not only to weed, but other products like coffee. When consuming marijuana, you get a “high” feeling because the number of cellular receptors in your brain (CB1 and CB2 — cannabinoid receptors type 1 and 2) react to the tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) when you consume it. In its turn, THC — is a psychoactive compound in cannabis. When this abundant cannabinoid is attached to CB1 and CB2, it produces the effects.

Using THC frequently or for a long period, your body strives to maintain balance as well as avert overload. That’s why the body limits and reduces the effects of THC. The brain achieves that by desensitizing and then internalizing the CB1 receptors. In such a way, your brain reduces the intensity of overall experience and you feel a “tolerance”.

How long does tolerance take to build and reset?

So, now you know what happens with your brain and body when you consume cannabis materials. Yet, how long does it take you to experience the tolerance? What should you do to lower or even reset the receptors and feel the desired effects without a big amount of cannabis materials used? All the answers are below.

How do you develop marijuana tolerance and how fast you build it?

cannabis leafConsumers who smoke/vape or eat cannabis often and regularly are at high risk. According to the recent study, it was found that regular but moderate daily marijuana consumers had 20% fewer CB1 receptors compared with the results of the participants from the control group who did not consume cannabis materials at all. Thus, if you eat/vape/smoke cannabis every day and have several sessions per day, then you can build THC tolerance soon.

Certainly, there are a lot of factors like individual susceptibility, the strain used, overall well-being, and so on that are important when it comes to weed tolerance and the time needed to build it. Yet, according to the study results, one week of frequent weed consumption is enough to develop enough tolerance so that you are to increase the dose to experience the desired effects. What’s more, the higher the ratio of THC the faster you build cannabis tolerance.

How can you reset weed tolerance?

Cannabis T-break is one of the easiest and fastest ways to reset or at least lower the marijuana tolerance. According to the research, CB1 receptors can return to previous levels and recover over time. And it can happen pretty fast though, in case the CB1 receptors were desensitized not internalized. The latter requires much more time for recovery. Herewith, you should just take short breaks from cannabis use to lower/reset tolerance. Depending on such factors as how long you consume, frequency, and your personal biology, it can take you from a few days to 2-4 weeks to reset weed tolerance.

How to prevent developing a cannabis tolerance?

Though it’s not so difficult to reset cannabis tolerance, yet it can be not so easy. Everything depends on how long you consume cannabis, your individual susceptibility, well-being, and other factors. Thus, using lower doses or having cannabis t-break, you can even go through weed withdrawal symptoms like mood swings, headaches, fatigue, insomnia, cognitive impairment, diminished appetite, nausea, intense, etc. It’s not killing, but not a positive experience as well. It is always better to prevent than search for the solution.

So, how can you manage tolerance to weed? Below you’ll find a few working tips on how to avert developing cannabis tolerance.

Prefer a higher CBD-to-THC ratio

As it was stated above, it’s THC to lead to your CB1 receptors depletion. Therefore, by smoking cannabis every day, you build a tolerance to THC. According to that, the higher the THC ratio in the weed, the faster the tolerance is built. Herewith, it’s quite wise and obvious to choose strains and opt for materials with prevailing CBD. In such a way, not only can you prevent developing cannabis tolerance but make your weed consumption healthier.

Control doses and frequency

Since regular consumption leads to tolerance, then you should control the frequency of smoking, vaping, or eating cannabis. Also, decrease the amount of weed you use per dose. It’s a way to avoid the adaptation of your brain to cannabinoids. Besides, more is not always better. There are a lot of advantages of microdosing.

Try another method of consumption

Today you’re free to choose much healthier ways of consuming marijuana. You’re free to choose not only smoking but vaping or cooking weed edibles, for instance, that are found to be much healthier consumption ways. Experiment and find the way you like the most.

Is it possible to reset cannabis tolerance if the CB1 receptors are internalized?
Yes, it’s possible, yet the process takes much more time. Just because in this case the CB1 receptors were broken and they must be reproduced. Once it happens, they are sent back to the cell’s surface to recover the normal brain functions.
How can I find out if I would experience the withdrawal effects?
Everything depends on how long you consume, how strong the strain is, and your biology. In case you consume pretty often and for a long time period, then it’s more than likely that you’ll have the withdrawal symptoms. So, before making a cannabis t-break, make sure that you have enough hydration and other needed things.


Cannabis tolerance is a unique thing. Unlike alcohol or other drugs, weed doesn’t kill the brain cells or cause the connections between these cells to wither away. Yet, repeated consumption of marijuana leads to a resistance to active compounds like THC. To avoid the diminished effect, consume cannabis wisely and responsibly, making breaks and experimenting with dosage, CBD-to-THC ratio.

Maria Garcia, Cannabis activist and editor of Cannabis Guide Barcelona


Maria GarciaInstagram icon

Cannabis activist and editor of Cannabis Guide Barcelona