Dear Miss Grass, I’m a long time daily weed user—edibles, joints, you name it. Big fan of this plant! But lately I just can’t get as high as I used to. Like, my highs aren’t as high, or maybe I can barely tell the difference between being high and not being high. Have I built up a mega tolerance? What do I do? I miss that head-y, stone-y feeling.
Lost My High
Walla Walla, WA
Oof, that’s a bummer. Losing your high is a bit like losing your orgasm. Sure, you can live without it, but…why would you want to? Life’s a whole lot better when we’re able to fully enjoy all its pleasures. And, as you’re well aware, the benefits of a good ol’ blaze session go far beyond the physical; getting high allows the mind and spirit a chance to explore, expand, and re-center. In these times of stress—and let’s be real, things are *stressful* lately—we gotta embrace every chance we get to go inward, slow down, and connect. We’re not binary like computers; creativity and innovation thrives in the free spaces, in the nuance of humanity. And that’s the very space that weed so sweetly helps us unlock.
So, yeah, losing your high sucks. Luckily, it’s absolutely and totally fix-able.
But before we get into the how, it might be helpful to know the why. Tolerance to weed (and other substances) all comes down to the body’s unending mission to achieve homeostasis and the built-in receptors in our brains that get turned-on when they meet an activating substance. The receptors and the substance have a grand time playing together—creating dopamine, driving euphoria—but then our bodies realize they need to put energy into other functions. So, it starts to turn off and decrease the amount of those receptors. “Tolerance is how our body and systems self-regulate. When we add too much of one thing, we throw our systems off balance,” says Samantha Miller, cannabis scientist and President of Pure Analytics. It’s kinda like when you’re in a long-term relationship: At first, you and your boo stayed up all night, but now you both have to handle your lives, so you go to sleep at a normal time. Checks and balances.
In the case of cannabis, the receptors are called CB1 and the substance—duh—is THC. Right now, your CB1s are on a vacay. But they’re not out of the office forever; they’re just taking on sabbatical: “Research shows that once the usage has stopped, the receptors generally re-populate themselves to previous levels,” says Miller. “Taking a break from THC is the most reliable way to see regeneration of the CB1 receptor populations.”
So, how long of a tolerance break should you take? There’s really no hard and fast rule. A study conducted in 2016 found that CB1 receptors resumed their normal activity levels after participants took a 28-day THC break. If that sounds like an unrealistically long time to go without bud, keep this in mind: there’s a whole host of other factors to consider—and even taking just a few days off can have a positive impact on regeneration. “Tolerance is influenced by how often you use, the strength of the cannabis you use, and your own biochemistry,” advises Miller. She says that just lowering your dosage, switching up the time of day, and changing the type of weed you consume might also help. “Using multiple strains with varying terpene profiles can do a lot towards keeping your usage down and your satisfaction up. It’s important that the strains you are trying have terpene profiles that are unique from one another.”
Another option—and perhaps the fastest and easiest way to let your CB1 receptors fully replenish without quitting your grass habit completely or becoming an expert terpene mixologist—is to lean harder into CBD. CBD doesn’t deplete CB1 receptors, yet it still offers a ton of feel-good, chill-out benefits. Ask your local budtender to recommend a cannabis strain that has a high CBD to THC ratio. Or, better yet, forgo the THC altogether (just for now!) and try a hemp pre-roll or CBD vape. Pack a pretty pipe with some beautiful hemp flower and a pinch of smokable herbs; pop a CBD gummy. That way, you still get to enjoy the ritual of consuming while also giving those sweet little CB1 receptors a chance to recover. Win-win.