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Sunday January 17, 2021

By Paul Barach

Alarm clock signifying the time of tolerance break Health/Science

Many long-term cannabis consumers have considered taking a tolerance break at one point or another. A tolerance break, commonly known as a T-break, is a set period of time where you abstain from consuming any form of cannabis. While some cannabis consumers take them naturally if they are traveling to a different country, or abstaining for an upcoming drug test, there are plenty of other reasons to take a tolerance break. 

As with many drugs, both pharmaceutical and recreational, the longer you consume them, the more it takes to get the same effect. Taking a tolerance break means your body regains its sensitivity to cannabis while also processing out any remaining THC stored in your fat cells.  

Some cannabis consumers choose to take a tolerance break simply to clear their heads. While regular cannabis use has shown to be mostly benign, it’s still a drug and can cloud up your brain over time. Some studies have shown that it may have some slight effects on mental sharpness, memory, and focus.

A tolerance break is also a good way to reset the sensitivity of your CB1 receptors.

As we said above, the more you consume cannabis, the less of an effect consuming it will have. In other words, it will take more and more amounts of marijuana or concentrates to get to the same effect of releasing dopamine and other neurochemicals. Unless you’re growing your own cannabis and have a real green thumb, consuming more marijuana inevitably means buying more marijuana. This can put a real dent in your budget over time. For money reasons alone, a solid tolerance break is a great way to turn yourself back into a cheap date, marijuana-wise.

Why Take a T-Break?

Taking a break from weed can also help you to gain a new appreciation of how awesome being stoned is. Going in with fresher eyes, you may regard the experience in a new way, or understand the positive impact that marijuana has on your life.

A man smoking a joint
The first puff after a tolerance break is always the greatest.

Or, if you’re noticing some positives without it, a tolerance break can also help you to re-evaluate the best way to fit pot into your daily/weekly/monthly. When it comes to tolerance breaks, it can be hard to know how long you should abstain to gain the full benefit of the break. That’s why PotGuide is here with some helpful tips on your optimal tolerance break duration, whether you’re a beginner, intermediate, or expert consumer. 

Beginner Tolerance Break Duration: 1 week

If you’re someone taking that monthly trip to the dispensary after you run out of your stash of gummies, your vape cartridge, or your quarter-ounce, a week-long T-break should be enough. As long as you’re an infrequent cannabis user, your THC levels are probably pretty low in your body. So, if you’re someone who keeps cannabis products around as more of an occasional treat rather than a daily consumer, about a week off of weed should give your CB1 receptors a slight realignment. 

If you're only taking one trip to the dispo a month, a tolerance break can pretty short and easy.

THC can be stored in fat cells for weeks. However, if you’re a light user you’re probably close to equilibrium with how much you’re putting in vs. how much you’re naturally processing out. While you might not be able to pass a drug test after just a week, your CB receptors should be cleared and your tolerance should be way down. You’ve given yourself enough of a break off of pot. Enjoy that first puff, gummy, or dab whenever you get around to it. 

Intermediate Tolerance Break Duration: 10 days to 2 Weeks

As an intermediate cannabis consumer, you’re visiting the dispensary about one to two times a month. You don’t consume it daily but you like to enjoy it most evenings. Maybe you bring along a joint when you take your dog for its evening walk, hit a dab before settling in for some video games, or pop an edible on your way home from work. Weekends are another matter, but you’re still not doing a regular wake and bake. 

If you’re an intermediate cannabis consumer who enjoys it a couple of times to a week or more, you’ll need a slightly longer time to reset.

While your fat cells aren’t fully saturated with stored up THC, it’ll take at least a week before the majority have metabolized out. At this point, you want your body to get back to equilibrium. That means getting used to not having THC in your system on a regular basis. This is why you want your T-break to be anywhere from ten full days to two weeks. Once those are up, grab a fresh joint and enjoy some bonding time with your furry best friend.

Expert/Connoisseur Tolerance Break Duration: 3-4 weeks

You’ve been in the game a long time, and the game has treated you well. You enjoy pot with the same passion and regularity as Hobbits enjoy their mealtimes. However, as with all good things, they have to come to an end, at least for the moment. Your tolerance is at levels that scientists should be studying, the thrill is gone, your weed budget is bloated, and it’s time to come up for some air before diving back in.

For expert-level cannabis consumers, you’ll want your tolerance break to last about three to four weeks. As you may have already read, if you’ve ever had to pass a drug test, abstaining from any form of THC for about three weeks is usually the right amount of time for your urine to get the all-clear. While it all depends on individual factors like metabolism, biochemistry, and body fat percentage, twenty-one days is usually when all those THC metabolites have passed out of your system. Adding on an extra week for good measure is recommended just to let your body come to its new, THC-free stasis. At this point, your CB1 receptors should be refreshed and renewed from their time off, and ready to get back to work with their old friend, THC.

Calendar with day marked
Tolerance breaks tend to be much more difficult for seasoned smokers. photo credit

Cannabis isn’t physically addictive, but it’s incredibly helpful for turning down the volume on reality (and let’s be honest, at this point in time, reality is pretty deafening). If you’re finding it difficult to be without pot in those first few days or weeks and don’t want to turn to alcohol as a replacement, CBD is a great alternative. It will help ease any stress or anxiety while still leaving your CB1 receptors clear. It comes in edibles and concentrates if you need that routine.

Final Thoughts

Whatever the length of time and whatever the reason you’re abstaining from weed, a t-break is a good move for any cannabis consumer. A couple of weeks isn’t that long an amount of time, and once your T-break is over, you can come back to your old friend cannabis with fresh eyes. That first toke, dab, or edible will hit stronger, and you’ll go into the experience with a new perspective from your little vacation away from weed.

Have you ever taken a marijuana tolerance break? If so, for how long? Share your tips, tricks, and experiences with others in the comments below.

Photo Credit: Security (license)


Paul Barach Paul Barach

Paul Barach is a Seattle-based freelance writer, editor, and author with experience creating well-researched, edited web articles covering cannabis news, culture, history and science. Paul is a regular contributor to PotGuide and has also contributed to publications such as, SlabMechanix, Litro, and The Trek. He prefers to spend his free time outdoors and most recently hiked the Pacific Crest Trail. So far he has only fallen into the La Brea Tarpits once. You can follow him on Instagram @BarachOutdoors and stay up to date professionally through his LinkedIn page.

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