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The important role of tolerance in cannabis use

Published Jul 20, 2022 01:00 p.m. ET
iStock / Inside Creative House

Most know that cannabis is a completely safe way to get high or achieve relief, while very few consumers, new and old, recognize the important role of tolerance in how an experience plays out.

What is tolerance?

Tolerance is a term that’s used to describe the concentration of cannabis compounds an individual may consume to achieve desirable effects. Those with high tolerance lean more towards powerful cannabis products with sky-high THC levels, while those with low tolerance are far better off with lower-dosed options. Unfortunately, not all enthusiasts know this, resulting in an increase in bad experiences that could have been avoided entirely.

How it impacts a cannabis experience

Those with a high tolerance might consume enormous concentrations of cannabinoids through various methods and feel just enough to be happy, while anyone with low tolerance is far more susceptible to bad experiences if they choose to take those same products in similar amounts. Beginners and occasional consumers tend to have low tolerance, while those who indulge daily or frequently with more potent products are able to take more and achieve similar effects as someone with a low tolerance who uses far less.

Not recognizing tolerance can be dangerous and irresponsible

New and occasional recreational consumers are impacted by this mistake the most, with far too many opting for products that aren’t within a safe THC range for them. If this happens before the unfortunate user makes it home, they could be uncomfortably impaired, resulting in a terrifying situation full of stress and anxiety. Medical patients, on the other hand, may be adversely impacted in another way by taking less medicine than they need, assuming a matching dose should always inflict the same level of effects, resulting in less relief.

Recreational consumers with high tolerance face fewer risks aside from a serious disappointment and frustration with their inability to get as “high” as they’d like. Not all cannabis products are equal, and which ones you choose should always come down to your own personal tolerance.

How to increase tolerance

Typically, an increased tolerance is the result of exposure time and time again, so it happens accidentally to those who use cannabis products on a regular basis or in large doses. There is no way to strengthen your tolerance other than through use while slowly increasing the dose. Some people have a naturally stronger tolerance, but this is not something that can be magically controlled. Instead, it’s a side effect of exposure and the body adjusting to higher doses over time.

How to decrease tolerance

Are you struggling to relax as much as you used to with a good joint or edible? This is the result of increased tolerance, an effect that can slowly be reversed with time and a tolerance break. Basically, you’ll need to go so long without it, and eventually, you should be able to get the same effects you used to with lower-dosed products. Unfortunately, there is no magic number, amount of time, or way to do this to see success, but if you’d like some help through this process, we highly recommend checking out our guide on the subject.

Tips and tricks to avoid going overboard

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The main reason it’s so important to raise awareness surrounding this phenomenon is to decrease the number of uncomfortable or, in some cases, dangerous situations that might result from taking too much.

1. Stick to products and concentrations you’re used to

If you’re used to smoking potent strains, then those should be safe, while leaping into edibles might be a massive leap that many consumers aren’t quite ready to make yet. The same is true for varying potencies, so the best choice is to stick with what you know if you want to avoid any potential negative effects.

2. If you do want more, increase the dose slowly

Even 10mg of THC in an edible or a few percent of THC in a new strain could be too much, so take this challenge on slowly, in increments. That way, if you get results that aren’t enjoyable, they won’t be as severe or overwhelming to handle as you wait for the effects to wear off.

3. Never assume a new cannabis product will affect you a certain way

Are you used to smoking joints and considering edibles? Perhaps you’ve got plenty of experience with flower and none with concentrates. Either way, moving from one to the next can be tricky territory, as no two are likely to induce the same effects. Some might be more overwhelming, while others may last far longer, and this is a shock to consumers who don’t quite understand their own tolerance.

4. Start low

We highly encourage all enthusiasts to experiment with hot, new cannabis products, but it should be done in small doses with slow incremental increases. Always start with the lowest strength option and go from there until you have a clearer understanding of how much is the right amount for you.

Cannabis use can be a safe, fun, and enjoyable experience as long as you understand the uniqueness of these products, dosing, methods, and of course, your tolerance.

How to take effective tolerance breaks from cannabis
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