Monday July 17, 2017View our Editorial Policy
There are many reasons people consume cannabis which is no wonder considering how amazing marijuana makes everything seem. But, as with all activities, the more frequently you do it, the more you need to do it to feel the same sensations that hooked you in the first place. A person’s tolerance to marijuana can affect the types of products they chose to consume, the amount of product they consume, the frequency of consumption and, ultimately, the amount of money spent on maintaining the marijuana high.
What is Marijuana Tolerance?
Quite simply, tolerance is the act of enduring. Whether it be enduring the effects of a substance or the political rants of your Great Aunt Susie, those who have a high tolerance for something can endure quite a lot of it before reaching a breaking point whereas those with a low tolerance cannot.
When it comes to the effects of cannabis, a person’s tolerance varies depending on many factors including frequency of consumption, body mass index, sex, potency of the product and so on. Interestingly, some people don’t get high their first time smoking weed which could be due to a few things: either they aren’t inhaling properly or their body needs to “learn” how to process the foreign cannabinoids by first activating CB1 receptors in the brain.
Things that Affect Tolerance
Though research is limited, one study suggests chronic cannabis consumption may dull the effectiveness of CB1 receptors in the brain thus increasing the amount of product needed to feel its effects.
Don’t worry, though: the study also noted an uptick in CB1 receptor activation after only two days of abstinence with an almost full recovery after four weeks.
The study, which was conducted using PET scans of 18-35 year-old men, noticed an average 20 percent drop in cannabinoid receptor activity which was not affected by the amount of product consumed. Though the sample size was very small and included no females, the PET images do suggest a probable cause of increased tolerance to cannabis after extended use.
The reason females were not included in the study is specific: women and men process cannabinoids differently than each other, so including both sexes could easily skew the results. When comparing the effect of cannabinoids on men versus women, we find that novice female consumers are more sensitive initially than men but develop a tolerance more quickly. Researchers came to this conclusion after noting greater initial sensitivity to the pain-relieving effects of THC in female rats followed by an increased tolerance after just 10 days of use.
The reason cannabis affects men and women differently is still unknown, but it is suggested that estrogen may play a part. Though most research on cannabis has been conducted exclusively on men due to more stable hormone levels, Washington State University psychology professor, Rebecca Craft, has been studying the effects of cannabis on female rats for many years. By manipulating hormone levels in female rats, Craft detected a significant increase in THC sensitivity when estrogen levels were high (at the peak of menstruation), which adds an additional variable in determining a female’s tolerance level as compared to a male’s.
A person’s body mass index (BMI), which is largely dependent on their metabolic rate, is another variable that may affect cannabis tolerance.
Interestingly, because cannabis seems to improve a person’s metabolism, regular use of cannabis may lead to improved cannabinoid absorption which helps maintain tolerance.
Finally, product potency plays a major role in a person’s tolerance level. This has been proven to be quite the hurdle when it comes to research and industry standards, and can make it difficult to follow proper dosing, especially for novice users who tend to be very sensitive to the effects of cannabis. Those who are unfamiliar with a product or unaware of their ideal dose should always proceed with caution when learning their personal tolerance level.
Benefits of Having a High (or Low) Tolerance
We often hear people mention the need for a “tolerance break” just to be able to feel the strong effects of cannabis again. And while we can totally sympathize with the desire to save a few bucks and still get high, we feel compelled to note the benefits of having a high tolerance in the first place. First of all, with an increased tolerance comes a reduced occurrence of negative side effects like dizziness, memory loss or impaired cognitive functioning. Those who can go to work stoned every day without making the boss mad can do so because of their increased tolerance. Want to show up baked to your line shift job? Better maintain that tolerance if you want to do so successfully.
Of course, a low tolerance can be a good thing, too. Not only does it cost significantly less to fund infrequent cannabis consumption, but you’ll get much higher, too! This is good for those who like to fly high on occasion, but not so much for those when it comes to pulling off a straight face in public.
Improving Marijuana Tolerance
If you’re unhappy with your tolerance level, there are a few things you can do. To lower your tolerance, the best suggestion is to take a break for two days to four weeks. This will give your body a chance to flush out excess cannabinoids and reactivate dormant cannabinoid receptors.
Alternatively, you may consider switching up strain types (switch from indicas to sativas, for example) or switch from flower to concentrates. Micro-dosing is another option where consumers only consume a small amount which reduces pain and improves mental functioning without causing a high.
To increase your tolerance, you can try CBD supplements, stick with the same strains or simply consume cannabis more often.
Getting high is great, but when you do so often, it becomes harder and harder to reach the optimum level of “high.” If you’ve been struggling to get sufficiently stoned, it may be time to take a break.