Home Medical The Importance of Cannabis Tolerance

The Importance of Cannabis Tolerance


With a title like that, this piece could go a couple of ways. I could talk about the need for others to display tolerance toward marijuana use, something that does not infringe on their rights and is therefore none of their business. In fact, that is often a theme in much of my writing.

Not today, however. The kind of tolerance I’m focusing on in this article is the kind that describes one’s ability to tolerate cannabis as a substance; more specifically, THC.

Anyone who has used cannabis on multiple occasions knows what I’m talking about. The phrases “tolerance break” and “first high of the day” are common in the cannabis community for good reason. Tolerance affects just about every aspect of cannabis use. It’s the main factor that determines how well you can drive after cannabis use, how long it takes you to “come down” and even how much cannabis you need to get the desired effects in the first place. It directly determines how much cannabis you need to consume and therefore, how much money you spend on cannabis.

According to a recent article in The Growth Op, “[s]tudies have found that repeated activation of cannabinoid 1 receptors (CB1R) first leads to desensitization (the weakening of the response to THC), followed by internalization (the removal of CB1R from the cell’s surface). While CB1R die from internalization, new ones can replace them.

“Simply put, users develop a tolerance because frequent cannabis consumption may dull the effectiveness of CB1 receptors in the brain, thus increasing the amount of cannabis needed to feel its effects.”

This is why many cannabis users take breaks to lower their tolerance and why most will tell you that the first high of the day – after at least several hours sleep – is the best and most effective one they will have all day.

While researchers are still not decided on whether a cannabis user can reset their tolerance back to “zero”, most agree that a couple weeks of abstention can do wonders to rebuild a user’s ability to feel the effects of THC. Even a 48-hour break can result in a noticeable lowering of tolerance.

For those who need to use cannabis every day for medical reasons, there are ways of lowering tolerance, including microdosing (using smaller amounts of cannabis with more frequent sessions) and alternating cannabis with different THC levels and even using different ingestion methods.

Science will continue to give us more information on tolerance, but many cannabis users are very familiar with the concept already.