What is a cannabis tolerance?
When you consume cannabis on a regular basis, the number of receptors in your nervous system are reduced – which means, over time – you will need more product in order to get the same effect. I know what some of you are thinking, well isn’t that kind of defeating the whole purpose of getting away from the pills? But stay with me for a second – just because you will be eventually needing more cannabis to reach that same effect, you are still never going to reach a “lethal” dose.
However, building a tolerance can become problematic when you’re needing to spend more money to reach the same level of relief from your symptoms. So these tips are meant to help you save money in the long-run by keeping your tolerance low.
Only consume the minimum dosage required
I say this to all my new patients who are discovering medical cannabis – start low, and go slow.
The best way to achieve the therapeutic result you’re looking for without driving up your tolerance, is to find the lowest dose to reach the level of relief you are seeking. You can always take more but there is no way to take less should you find yourself “over medicated”.
If you’re like me, once you find a product or strain that works really well for you – you want to keep using that same strain/product, right? Well, bad news – this practice will really speed up that cannabis tolerance we’ve been talking about. The beauty of the regulated market is the vast variety of strains and products that are available to patients. The best way to find strains that are similar to that one you love so much is to first find out the terpene and cannabinoid profile of that favorite strain. From there you can look for strains that have a similar profile.
This is a tricky thing to do in most markets without doing a little bit of research. Ideally dispensaries would be including complete profiles for each of their strains on the menu so that patients can better choose their medicine – but unfortunately, this is not common practice. Most dispensaries will provide their full menu on their websites and/or websites like Weedmaps, Leafly, or iHeartJane. From there you can do a little googling and get a general idea of the compound profile of the strain you’re interested in. Alternatively, you can spend some time in the dispensary with your budtender and ask them to help you find strains that have similar properties as the one you’ve grown so fond of.
try a New Product
Just like using the same strain over and over again can drive up your tolerance, so can using the same product or consumption method will do the same thing. Each method of consumption can cause your body to react differently – for example, I can vaporize dry herb every 2 hours throughout my day and feel no psychological effects; alternatively, I can take an edible and feel out of it for hours.
Vaping throughout my day tends to help me keep my pain levels at an even level, when I have more severe breakthrough pain – or when I just want a little extra boost, I can pair it vaping with an lower dose edible OR cut the vaping for the day and just take a higher dose edible and I am good to go. Same goes with using topicals for the more targeted, localized pain points.
Mixing and matching products and consumption methods is a great way to help extend your tolerance.
Try a Tolerance Break*
They’re talked about often amongst recreational users – when they feel their tolerance is too high and it’s taking too much to reach their peak, some cannabis consumers find taking a short break (typically between a few days and a few weeks) from consuming anything helps to “reset” their body/endo-cannabinoid system. Tolerance breaks can be effective in making each of the receptors that communicate with cannabis more receptive. Many will cut the plant out of their routine completely for that break, others will just severely cut back.
* Note: While tolerance breaks will work great for resetting your system, many chronic medical patients find it hard to take a break from medicating out of fear their progress will be reset or that they will fall back into the painful position they were in before. I fall in this category – the idea of stopping my medical cannabis routine to reset my tolerance is just not something I am willing to do, but what I have done is to incorporate some lower-cost, high-CBD strains into my regular high-THC strains and found it helps to extend out the life of my tolerance.
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