How to Reset Your Physical & Psychoactive Response to Cannabis

It's easier than you think, requiring nothing but your patience.


Despite differences in motivation behind cannabis use, medical and recreational consumers can agree on at least one thing: Tolerance of the plant builds after prolonged use, often resulting in us consuming higher doses and/or having dissatisfying effects. This takes a toll on our bodies, our brains, and our budget. Luckily, there's a simple way to reset our physical & psychoactive responses to THC, CBD, and other cannabinoids so that they effect us the way they once did when we first began consuming.

How Our Body Builds Tolerance to Cannabis

Cannabis tolerance is an actual thing - that is to say, there's been a study or two to confirm that our CB1 & CB2 receptors downregulate (their existence on cell surfaces diminish) when we're exposed to excess amounts of cannabinoids - specifically THC. Less functioning receptors means less effects are felt. Don't worry, there's a way to upregulate them which is explained in the next section.

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The study entitled "Rapid Changes in CB1 Receptor Availability in Cannabis Dependent Males After Abstinence from Cannabis" took a look at CB1 receptor sites using positron emission tomography (PET scan) and an injection of mildly radioactive material. 11 of the volunteers had been diagnosed with cannabis dependence while 19 volunteers were not regular consumers. They found the CB1 receptor sites of the chronic cannabis users was less dense than those of the 19 volunteers that don't consume chronically. This means tolerance built in the subjects who depend on cannabis.

As the study continued, they found that abstinence to cannabis increased the density of CB1 receptor sites - with changes being found in as little as two days. Sites continued to improve even after the 28-day mark.

While changes occurred after two days, it still takes about four weeks to reach a "normal" cannabis tolerance level again.

How to Decrease Your Cannabis Tolerance: 4 Options

Take a Break

The best but slightly more difficult manner in which to upregulate the CB1 receptors in your brain is to simply take a tolerance break. As stated above, two days will help improve the effects felt from consuming cannabis, but resisting the urge to consume for up to four weeks will set you back at your "first-time" level of tolerance. This might be easiest for recreational consumers, being inconvenient for medical users as they won't be able to control their ailments with the plant. However, it can be worth it if spending too much on cannabis in order to keep up with high tolerance levels. Begin with two days, micro-dose on the third, then go another two days, etc.


Better for medical consumers, micro-dosing means consuming just a little bit of the plant to maintain your ailment. Every day cut back little by little the amount you serve yourself until you smoke none at all. This is a simpler, but longer method of rebooting your system so that your tolerance once again becomes what it once was.

Switch to Herb

If you're accustomed to smoking oils; dabbing, using a vape pen, or consuming the more concentrated versions of the plant, then switch to smoking the flower. You'll bombard your system with far less cannabinoids and can then resume towards lowering your tolerance level by micro-dosing.

Cannabinoid Cycling

If consuming strains that contain average or above-average amounts of THC and you'd like to lower your tolerance but still receive some benefits (like the pain-fighting or inflammation-fighting aspects) of the plant, find a high CBD strain with low traces of THC to consume instead. You'll get the relaxing body buzz without the cerebral effects while also helping out your tolerance levels. Shifting from high CBD to high THC strains every so often is called cannabinoid cycling and can benefit both medical and recreational consumers that want to balance their tolerance levels.

Learn More: 7 Questions Answered: Cannabis Dosing & Tolerance Levels