Dear Mother,

I’m a cannabis enthusiast (OK, pothead) and I have to use more and more to get me where I need to be. What’s the best way to recalibrate my tolerance?

— Longtime Toker

Dear Toker,

This is a great question and one a lot of folks have on occasion. Can you build up a tolerance to cannabis or is that a myth? Well, the answer depends on a variety of factors, so let’s take a look.

The first thing you’ll want to take a look at is what you’re actually smoking. Before we even get into the concept of tolerance, check your stash. Are you consistently getting the same strain? Do you know the breakdown of cannabinoids each time you use it? These little things can end up making a difference between you being considerably couch-locked versus wondering what sort of crappy ditch weed you ended up with.

Obviously, this is much easier to track if you purchase your cannabis from a dispensary that will print out all of this information for you. Otherwise, without any sort of at-home testing kit, it might be difficult to know how consistent the potency of your cannabis is, even if it’s the same strain!

But let’s say you know what you’re smoking and that isn’t an issue.

The biggest issue is that there aren’t enough studies that look at this issue—if you hear of any that require you to smoke a bunch of free, strong weed and answer questions on how it affects you, let me know, please! That said, there is *some* data as well as a ton of anecdata (a.k.a. personal stories) on this topic.

A recent paper published from Yale University School of Medicine showed that while it’s possible for folks to build up a tolerance to cannabis, abstaining for just a few days can help bring that level down.

So, if you’re a daily smoker, you actually might find that it takes either a stronger strain or a bunch more of your stash to get those THC-triggered effects you love so much. However, if you stop smoking for a couple of days, the next time you get high, you’ll need less than you would think as your brain recalibrated during those days off. And, if you stop for a week, you’ll react to cannabis as any newbie smoker would!


OK, I get that. But would you rather have to smoke more cannabis to get that high you’re after, or hold off for a day or two every so often? That way you let your brain and body rest as well as your wallet! Happy smoking (then abstaining for a day or two, then smoking again)!

— Mother