First of all, it is true that those who imbibe THC on the regular will have to consume higher doses over time to achieve the same psychoactive effect. So no, you can’t, unfortunately, smoke yourself silly everyday and not expect your weekly pot budget to run up.
Studies show that repeated activation of our cannabinoid 1 receptors leads to desensitization, which is followed by something called internalization, which is the removal of CB1 receptors from the cell’s surface. So, obviously, if you continue to consume THC after you’ve been overdoing it for a while, you can expect it’ll have less of an effect on your mental state because, you have less receptors for it to go to work on.
It is possible to get sensitized to THC again, and it might even be possible to achieve that ‘first-time high’ feeling, but it takes time. Alex Samuelsson, Chief Science Cfficer of medical marijuana data company Melabis, tells The Growth Op how to totally reset your tolerance:
“You can reset your tolerance and there is a study that describes the upregulation (an increase in the number of receptors, replacing those lost during internalization) of CB1R after cessation.” The study found that CB1R upregulation starts in around two days of abstinence, and continues over four weeks. So, just under a month.
If you want to test the theory, quit pot for 2 days, then see how long you can last without it after that. If you can go up to 4 weeks, amazing. The above study didn’t look at whether or not CB1R upregulation continued after four weeks, but as pointed out in The Growth Op, another study found that CB1R returns to normal levels in most regions of the brain after approximately four weeks of abstinence. So, you’ll be back to baseline.
There are a couple ways you could approach a DIY cannabis break. You could try switching to CBD. Of course, CBD is non-psychoactive, and so it doesn’t affect the same receptors in your body as THC and won’t peel off those receptors you want to get back. CBD offers its own host of benefits outside the psychoactive enjoyment and you might find that the boost in focus and clarity keeps you motivated to stay committed to your THC break. Try micro-dosing with a low THC, high CBD strain like Harlequin or Cannatonic after your first couple days of abstinence. Practice mindful awareness around how you feel.
Or, you could just go cold turkey. If you tend to approach life with an all or nothing perspective, or just feel the need to launch right on into a total fresh start, going cold turkey for a set amount of time might actually be easier than trying to ease in. Cold turkey might look like literally tossing your stash or gifting it, and keeping your accessories at a friend’s house (not a friend within arm’s reach!)
However long you decide to break for, consider supports like doing it with a friend for the solidarity, or making abstinence part of a new daily ritual (it’s easier to do things than to not do things). So if you always smoke before dinner, instead, go for a walk before dinner, for example. Don’t remove one routine and not fill it in with a new one.
It’s said that habits take 21 days to form. So, if you’re trying to go for an entire 4 weeks THC-free, know that the first 3 could be anywhere from rocky to, well, torture depending on who you are – but the fourth will be liberation. If you really want to feel that gloriously potent first-time high, it’ll absolutely be worth it.
When you’re ready to break your reset, polish up your accessories and set aside some time to treat yourself to a decadent session. You’ve earned it.