Reduce Marijuana Tolerance: Taking a Break Without Going Cold Turkey

Feeling like weed isn’t giving you the same effects it once used to? Well, if you’re a regular marijuana user, you’ve probably developed high weed tolerance over time, which can weaken your spirits a bit.

If you’re using marijuana every day, the need to increase the amount that you need to use each time to get the same effects is inevitable.

Many cannabis enthusiasts wonder whether or not it’s possible to find any way around tolerance buildup, or is there any way to boost the effects of marijuana without having to consume more of it every time.

Here are some tricks you can keep in mind to enhance your high while reducing your weed tolerance without smoking less.

Why Do We Even Develop Weed Tolerance in the First Place?

First of all, let’s quickly focus on what exactly cannabis tolerance is. Humans develop weed tolerance very fast, and at some point, every regular weed smoker realizes he or she needs to consume more weed to feel the same effects over time.

But why do we even develop weed tolerance in the first place?

A study published in 2016 explains the reason behind this phenomenon. The cannabis plant produces phytocannabinoids, which are organic chemicals directly engaging with our receptors in the body. Since we have the endocannabinoid system, phytocannabinoids engage with our cannabinoid receptors, interacting with the brain in certain areas controlling memory, mood, sleep, movement, and reward. [1]

When consuming THC, the cannabinoid decreases the amount of CB1 receptors, which leads to building up a tolerance.

Does the weed tolerance stick? Fortunately, no. According to a study, marijuana tolerance starts to reverse within two days once you stop using the herb. Speaking of which…

What Do the Majority of People Say About Reducing Weed Tolerance

Most people will advise you to take the so-called “tolerance break”, which basically is a short period of abstinence from marijuana. As mentioned before, a mere two days of abstinence seems to be what most people need to kickstart the tolerance reverse process. Usually, tolerance breaks last between a few days to a week, but for most regular marijuana users, it’s probably easier said than done.

First of all, when quitting marijuana, you’ll soon start experiencing withdrawal symptoms. Although these are not scary or dangerous, as they include sleeplessness, boredom, irritability, anxiety, and cravings, they are definitely not the most pleasurable things in the world. Thus, many people wonder whether or not there exists any other method to reduce developing marijuana tolerance. [2]

What if You Can’t Go Cold Turkey

Of course, quitting marijuana for a few days or so is a decent option if you want to reverse building up weed tolerance. Plus, it seems to be an effective way even for highly frequent weed users. However, not many people want to take a tolerance break, and not everyone actually can. In fact, medical marijuana users who rely on the herb every single day certainly can’t take a break from their medicine, even if they want to.

So, how is it possible to keep low tolerance while benefiting from all the positive effects of marijuana every single day?

It turns out the answer is simple and it all boils down to specific cannabinoid and chemical profile of each individual cannabis strain. In fact, once you get the basic knowledge of cannabis strains and their cannabinoid profiles, it will be a lot easier to keep your tolerance at the proper level by working on your body’s internal cannabinoid receptors. What’s crucial to avoid tolerance buildup is to learn how to switch strains and target key receptors.

Know the Difference Between THC and CBD-dominant Cannabis Strains

Although CBD is more popular in terms of health and wellness benefits, THC comes with similar characteristics, especially when it comes to fighting pain, loss of appetite and cognitive function impairments, such as depression and anxiety. [3]

Since we’re developing THC tolerance and each cannabinoid interacts differently with our body’s endocannabinoid system, you can actually switch between THC-rich and CBD-rich marijuana varieties to keep developing weed tolerance at bay. Now, let’s find out what is the difference between THC-dominant and CBD-dominant cannabis strains.

When consuming THC-rich strains, you provide high amounts of THC, which interacts with CB-1 receptors in your central nervous system. These receptors actually mimic the shape of THC molecules. Thus, THC binds to these receptors carrying out its function. However, over time, our bodies prepare for the increased influx of THC, making less of the CB-1 receptors available.

Although we all love to get high, our bodies naturally work to keep their homeostasis, reducing the psychoactive effects of THC when we overload our central nervous system with high amounts of this cannabinoid. In short, when using THC-rich strains, we’re forcing our body to reinstate homeostasis by reducing the availability of CB-1 receptors. To summarize, THC binds to physical sites on CB-1 receptor molecules in our body, but when we use too much of this compound, our central nervous system makes fewer receptors available.

As for CBD, it’s a whole new story. Contrary to THC, CBD doesn’t bind to any receptors in our body. Instead, the cannabinoid stimulates the process of producing and releasing new endocannabinoids in the body.

To sum up, both THC and CBD are valuable for our well-being and are complementary to one another. If you want to reduce developing marijuana tolerance, you can switch to a CBD-rich strain after overloading your system with too much THC. Since CBD supports producing new CB-1 receptors, it will help enrich your endocannabinoid system with new receptors. Once you switch back to THC-rich strains, you’ll have a better response to it. Now, let’s talk about the art of switching strains.

The Art of Switching Strains

One of the most problematic parts of reducing marijuana tolerance is learning to know when to switch from THC- to CBD-dominant strain or vice-versa. The question is “how do you know for how long to use a particular strain before switching to the other one?”.

First of all, you must realize that all of us have different organisms and switching between THC and CBD-dominant strains is an individual thing. That said, in order to truly become a master of cycling between strains, you have to learn how to listen to your body and know how to react to certain effects and changes that are taking place.

The time needed to develop marijuana tolerance differ from one person to another, which means you can develop a tolerance to the particular strain within two weeks while another person may need even six months to experience fewer effects from the same cannabis variety.

Long story short, it all comes down to your body’s biochemistry and how it responses to cannabinoids. Once you detect your body started becoming tolerant to a particular strain and you need to use more to get the same effects, you may want to switch your strains.

How to Tell if Your Weed is THC or CBD-dominant

Well, if you’re getting your weed from a reputable source, such as a cannabis dispensary that provides the cannabinoid profiles of the offered strains, you’re good to go. However, many people don’t have an easy and trustworthy access to marijuana, and they end up not knowing what they’re getting. Moreover, most strains available “on the streets” come with more THC than CBD in general.

However, if you have a reliable source or marijuana, you can easily switch between THC and CBD-dominant strains. Keep in mind the shift doesn’t have to be radical, as even a small change in cannabinoid dominance will do the trick by lowering your tolerance. But then again, it all depends on your individual biochemistry, which means the art of switching strains depends on how well you listen to your body. Don’t worry though, you know what they say – practice makes perfect.

Other Ways to Hack Your Weed Tolerance

What if you’re favorite strain isn’t giving you the same effects it once used to, but you don’t want to take a tolerance break and don’t have access to various cannabis strains? Here are some alternatives to enhance your high without having to quit smoking:

Play With Different Consumption Methods

While we can all agree to have joints at hand is extremely convenient, playing with different consumption methods may help you reduce marijuana tolerance big time.

Depending on your go-to method, THC can be absorbed in various ways, giving the user different effects. When smoked, the cannabinoid is absorbed through your lungs into the blood system. When you consume edibles, THC needs to be metabolized before it takes action. If you’ve ever tried different methods of using weed, you know the various effects that come with a bong, weed brownie or a powerful dab. [4]

Try Microdosing

If you want to reduce developing weed tolerance without much disruption, try micro-dosing. What exactly is micro-dosing? It means consuming very small amounts of cannabis on a continuous basis. Reducing your daily intake of weed is one of the simplest ways to give your marijuana tolerance a break without quitting your habit completely. Plus, micro-dosing weed is beneficial for your brain, as studies suggest. [5]

If you’re a regular pot smoker who uses joints or blunts, consider rolling smaller ones if you feel like you need to decrease your tolerance. It’s recommended to start with about 20% less cannabis than you usually use. Another idea is to switch to smaller papers before you get back to treating yourself with fatty blunts.


This piece of advice is for those of you who need extra motivation to start exercising. According to a study, if you decide to do a cardiovascular training before using cannabis, you may actually get a more powerful high. THC levels increase by 15% in those who completed a cardiovascular exercise before smoking weed. The most possible reason behind this phenomenon is that after the exercise, the heart is pumping THC faster through our body.

Now, the question is: how long should you exercise to get the desired effect?

It takes only about 35 minutes to achieve a 15% increase in THC levels. Plus, exercise and marijuana are a great combination for both better intake of THC and more effective relaxation after an intense exercise session. By doing some cardio before smoking, you’ll allow your body to absorb more THC from a smaller amount of marijuana.

Smoke Less Often

If you’re not interested in switching to other consumption methods, exercising or playing with various strains, you can always try to smoke less often throughout the day. Consider stretching out one or two sessions in order to indulge a little bit more at the moment, and you’ll be good to go without having to smoke in an hour again.

You can also switch up the times you smoke, as your tolerance builds faster with repetition. Try not to wake and bake for a few days, and you’ll be surprised how fast your tolerance will get back on track. It’s also wise to change your morning and evening routine. If you usually smoke right after waking up, wait a few hours before blazing for the first time. As for the evening, usually, people smoke literally minutes before going to bed. So instead, try getting high a few hours before bedtime.

Simply put, just don’t start your day with a joint if that’s what you’ve been doing so far. First, have some breakfast, take care of your housekeeping duties and then get high. You’ll see the difference in no time.


We can all agree that cannabis comes with stronger effects for beginners, but everyone builds a tolerance over time. While many people recommend taking a tolerance break, this may not be an option for medical marijuana users. Moreover, not every recreational pot smoker wants to quit his habit for a week or so, and there’s nothing wrong about it.

Have you tried any of the above methods? Or do you have your own tricks to hack weed tolerance? Share your advice!


  1. D’Souza D.C. et al. Rapid Changes in CB1 Receptor Availability in Cannabis-Dependent Males after Abstinence from Cannabis. Biological Psychiatry: Cognitive Neuroscience and Neuroimaging (2016); 1(1): 60-67. Published in PMC in January 2017.
  2. Bonnet U., Preuss U.W. The Cannabis Withdrawal Syndrome: Current Insights. Substance Abuse and Rehabilitation (2017); 8: 9-37. Published online in April 2017.
  3. Tambaro S., Bortolato M. Cannabinoid-related agents in the treatment of anxiety disorders: current knowledge and future perspectives. Recent Patents on CNS Drug Discovery (2012); 7(1): 25-40. Published in April 2012.
  4. Sharma P., Murthy P., Bharath M.M.S. Chemistry, Metabolism, and Toxicology of Cannabis: Clinical Implications (2012); 7(4): 149-156. Published in Iranian Journal of Psychiatry in fall 2012.
  5. Bilkei-Gorzo A. et al. A chronic low dose of Δ9-tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) restores cognitive function in old mice. Nature Medicine (2017); 23(6): 782-787. Published in June 2017.
James Reed

James Reed

James is our in-house cannabis expert and foodie. He earned a Bachelor of Health Sciences with a focus on pharmacology several years ago and has since been working as a writer and editor for cannabis-related blogs and e-commerce brands. In his spare time, he enjoys exploring the landscape around his Crescent City home with his dog Gus.

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