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Cannabis Tolerance

What is a tolerance to cannabis?

Cannabis tolerance refers to the body’s ability to adapt to the effects of cannabis over time. This can result in a diminished response to the drug. Individuals who use cannabis often may need higher doses to achieve the same effects.
Tolerance develops because of changes in the brain’s receptors involved in processing cannabis. This can happen with any form of cannabis use; smoking, vaping, or consuming edibles.
It’s important to note that tolerance can increase the risk of developing dependence to cannabis. Regular users may experience withdrawal symptoms when they stop using cannabis. Individuals who use cannabis often should do so in moderation and take frequent breaks.
tolerance to smoking
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Cannabis tolerance myths debunked

Cannabis tolerance is entirely based on frequency of use

It is true that regular cannabis use can lead to a build-up of tolerance over time. Yet, other factors such as genetics, body weight, and metabolism can also play a role in one’s tolerance to cannabis.

Increasing cannabis use will always lead to a higher tolerance

This is not entirely true. Some individuals may experience an increase in sensitivity to cannabis over time.

Smoking more cannabis will always result in a stronger high

 This is not always the case. The amount of THC in each individual cannabis strain can vary widely. Other factors such as delivery method and individual physiology can also affect intensity.

All cannabis products have the same potency

 This is not true. The potency of cannabis products varies. Factors include strain, growing conditions, and processing methods used. We actually covered this in our blog here.
It’s important to remember that everyone’s experience with cannabis tolerance can be different, and influences include variety of factors. Consulting with a healthcare provider or cannabis specialist can help individuals better understand their own tolerance and how to use cannabis safely and effectively.

How does the method of consumption affect tolerance?

The tolerances for cannabis can vary depending on the method of consumption. When you smoke cannabis, the effects are usually felt within a few minutes and reach their peak in about 30 minutes to an hour. The effects of smoked cannabis typically last for 2-4 hours.
When you consume cannabis edibles, however, the effects take longer to set in, usually about 30 minutes to an hour, and can last for several hours, up to 8 hours or more. This is because when consuming cannabis orally, the liver metabolizes it before it enters the bloodstream. The liver converts delta-9-THC, the primary psychoactive compound in cannabis, into 11-hydroxy-THC, which is more potent and has a longer-lasting effect.
Because of these differences in onset and duration of effects, it’s possible for an individual to develop a higher tolerance for smoking cannabis than for consuming edibles, or vice versa. However, it’s important to note that tolerance can develop with any method of consumption, and regular cannabis use can lead to tolerance regardless of the method used.

What can affect a person’s tolerance to smoking cannabis?

Several factors can affect an individual’s tolerance to smoking cannabis, including:


Some people may be genetically predisposed to have a higher or lower tolerance to cannabis.

Frequency of use

Regular and frequent use of cannabis can lead to the development of tolerance over time.


Higher doses of cannabis can lead to a faster development of tolerance.

Method of consumption

The method of consumption can affect the onset and duration of the effects of cannabis, which can in turn affect the development of tolerance.

Strain and potency

Different strains of cannabis can have different levels of potency, which can affect an individual’s tolerance.

Age and gender

Younger individuals and females may be more sensitive to the effects of cannabis and may develop tolerance more slowly.

Body composition and metabolism

Individuals with higher body fat may metabolize cannabis slower, which can lead to a higher tolerance.
It’s important to note that the development of tolerance is a natural response to repeated exposure to cannabis. It is not necessarily an sign of problematic use. Tolerance can increase the risk of dependence and addiction. It’s important to use cannabis responsibly and in moderation.
tolerance edibles
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Why is your edible tolerance different from your smoking tolerance?

Edible tolerance differs from smoking tolerance because of how the body processes THC.
When smoking, THC enters the bloodstream quickly through the lungs and is rapidly transported to the brain. This results in a faster onset of effects, and typically a shorter duration of effects. Smoking cannabis may also lead to a more gradual build-up of tolerance over time.
Orally consuming cannabis can produce more intense and longer-lasting effects. This is because the liver converts THC into 11-hydroxy-THC. This cannabinoid can pass through the blood-brain barrier easier and produce stronger effects. This means edible and smoking tolerances are not equal. Tolerance to edibles may build quicker because of the stronger and longer-lasting effects.

How does my body store cannabis?

After consumption, the active compounds, such as THC, are absorbed by the bloodstream and distributed throughout the body. THC is highly lipophilic, meaning it has an affinity for fat, which allows it to accumulate in fatty tissues throughout the body, including the brain.
Once THC enters the bloodstream, it can bind to cannabinoid receptors in the brain and other organs, producing a range of effects, such as altered mood, perception, and cognition, as well as pain relief and relaxation.
After being metabolized by the liver, THC is broken down into metabolites, some of which are stored in fat cells. These metabolites can remain in the body for weeks or even months after cannabis use, which is why THC can be detected in drug tests long after someone has consumed cannabis.
Over time, the body gradually eliminates THC and its metabolites through a process called metabolism. Metabolism involves breaking down and excreting these compounds through the liver, kidneys, and other organs. Factors that can affect the rate of metabolism include the frequency and amount of cannabis use, body weight, and genetics.
tolerance and exercise
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How can exercising affect my cannabis tolerance?

Regular exercise can have an impact on cannabis tolerance, although the exact mechanisms are not fully understood. Here are a few possible ways that exercising may affect cannabis tolerance:

Increased metabolism

Exercise can increase the body’s metabolic rate, which may speed up the breakdown and elimination of THC and its metabolites from the body. This could lead to a decrease in tolerance over time, as the body becomes more efficient at clearing THC from the system.

Improved cardiovascular function

Regular exercise can also improve cardiovascular function, including blood flow and heart rate. This may enhance the body’s ability to transport THC and its metabolites to the liver and kidneys for elimination.

Increased endocannabinoid production

Exercise can also stimulate the production of endocannabinoids, which are naturally occurring compounds in the body that bind to the same receptors as THC. It’s possible that increased endocannabinoid production could lead to a decrease in THC tolerance, although more research is needed to confirm this.
It’s worth noting that while exercise may have a positive impact on cannabis tolerance, it’s important to approach exercise and cannabis use responsibly. Mixing cannabis with exercise or engaging in strenuous exercise while under the influence of cannabis can increase the risk of injury or other negative outcomes. It’s always a good idea to talk to a healthcare provider before starting a new exercise program or making significant changes to your cannabis use.

How can I lower my cannabis tolerance?

There are several ways to lower your tolerance to cannabis, including:

Taking a break

The most effective way to lower your tolerance to cannabis is to take a break from using it. This allows your body to reset and become more sensitive to the effects of the drug again. A break of at least a few days or up to several weeks can be helpful.

Reducing the frequency of use

Using cannabis less frequently can help prevent the development of tolerance or slow its progression.

Reducing the dose

Lowering the amount of cannabis you consume can also help reduce your tolerance over time.

Switching up strains

Trying different strains of cannabis with different levels of potency can help prevent the development of tolerance or reduce it if it has already developed.

Changing the method of consumption

Switching to a different method of consumption, such as from smoking to vaping or edibles, can help lower your tolerance.

Incorporating a tolerance break schedule

To prevent tolerance from developing, consider implementing a schedule of taking breaks every few weeks to a month to allow your body to reset.
It’s important to note that tolerance to cannabis can develop quickly, and it’s important to use cannabis responsibly and in moderation to prevent the negative consequences of overuse. Additionally, if you are concerned about your cannabis use or are experiencing negative effects, it’s important to speak with a healthcare professional.

What is a cannabis detox?

Cannabis detox, also known as marijuana detox, is the process of eliminating tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) from the body after prolonged or heavy cannabis use. THC is the main psychoactive compound found in cannabis, and it can remain in the body for days or even weeks after use.
Cannabis detox usually involves abstaining from cannabis use and allowing the body to naturally eliminate THC through the urine and feces. Depending on the frequency and duration of cannabis use, detox can take several days to several weeks.
Some people may experience withdrawal symptoms during cannabis detox, including irritability, anxiety, depression, insomnia, and decreased appetite. However, these symptoms are typically mild and short-lived, and can be managed with proper support and medical care.
tolerance decrease by drinking more water
Photo by Nigel Msipa on Unsplash

How does someone do a cannabis detox?

A cannabis detox typically involves abstaining from cannabis use and allowing the body to naturally eliminate THC and its metabolites from the system. Here are some steps that someone can take to support their body’s natural detox process:

Stop using cannabis

The first step in a cannabis detox is to stop using cannabis. This may involve gradually tapering off use over time or quitting cold turkey, depending on the individual’s level of dependence.

Drink plenty of water

Drinking water can help flush THC and its metabolites out of the body. Aim to drink at least eight 8-ounce glasses of water per day.

Exercise regularly

Regular exercise can boost the body’s metabolic rate and help accelerate the detox process. Aim for at least 30 minutes of moderate-intensity exercise, such as brisk walking, jogging, or cycling, per day.

Eat a healthy diet

Eating a diet rich in fruits, vegetables, whole grains, and lean protein can provide the nutrients the body needs to support the detox process. Avoid processed foods, sugary drinks, and alcohol, as these can be taxing on the liver and slow down the detox process.

Get plenty of rest

Getting adequate rest and sleep can help the body recover from cannabis use and support the detox process.
It’s important to note that the length of time it takes for THC and its metabolites to clear from the body can vary depending on factors such as the frequency and amount of cannabis use, body weight, and metabolism. In some cases, THC and its metabolites may remain detectable in the body for several weeks or even months after cannabis use has stopped. If you have concerns about a cannabis detox or are experiencing symptoms such as cravings or withdrawal, it’s important to seek support from a healthcare provider or addiction specialist.

How long does THC stay in your system?

The length of time that THC (the primary psychoactive compound in cannabis) stays in someone’s system depends on a number of factors, including the individual’s frequency and amount of cannabis use, body weight, metabolism, and method of drug testing. Here are some general guidelines for how long THC can be detected in various forms of drug testing:

Urine testing

THC and its metabolites can be detected in urine for up to 30 days after last use for frequent and heavy users, but typically up to 2 weeks for occasional users. Urine tests are the most common form of drug testing.

Blood testing

THC can be detected in the blood for up to 36 hours after last use.

Saliva testing

THC can be detected in saliva for up to 72 hours after last use.

Hair testing

THC can be detected in hair for up to 90 days or longer after last use. This form of testing is less common but can provide a longer-term view of cannabis use.
It’s important to note that these are general guidelines and that individual results may vary based on factors such as age, body fat percentage, and other health conditions. Additionally, some forms of cannabis (such as edibles or concentrates) can have a longer-lasting effect than smoking, which can affect how long THC stays in the body.

Why should we remove cannabis from drug tests?


With the increasing legalization of cannabis in many parts of the world, drug testing for cannabis may be seen as outdated or unnecessary. In jurisdictions where cannabis is legal for medical or recreational use, testing for cannabis can be seen as a violation of an individual’s privacy and rights.

Medicinal use

Cannabis has been shown to have therapeutic benefits for a variety of conditions, including chronic pain, anxiety, and seizures. Testing for cannabis on drug tests may prevent individuals who use cannabis for medicinal purposes from obtaining employment or other opportunities.

Inaccurate results

Drug tests for cannabis can be inaccurate and unreliable, particularly when it comes to detecting THC in urine or blood. This is because THC can stay in the body for an extended period, even after the effects have worn off. This means that someone who has used cannabis in the past may test positive for THC even if they are not currently impaired.


Drug testing for cannabis can perpetuate discrimination against individuals who use cannabis recreationally or medicinally. This is particularly true for communities of color, who are more likely to be targeted by drug testing policies despite similar rates of cannabis use compared to white communities.

Performance-based testing

Some argue that drug testing should focus on performance-based measures rather than testing for specific substances. This would allow employers and other organizations to assess an individual’s ability to perform specific tasks or duties, rather than their past or current drug use. A 2019 study showed persistent cannabis use is associated with decreased cannabis impairment.
Overall, the argument for getting rid of testing for cannabis on drug tests is based on concerns around individual rights, fairness, and accuracy. As cannabis use becomes more accepted and legalized, there may be increasing pressure to reevaluate drug testing policies and move away from testing for cannabis specifically.

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More Reading:

Cannabis Consumption Methods

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Infusing your own Cannabis Oil

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