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Cannabis 101

Tips for Taking a Successful Cannabis Tolerance Break

July 21, 2017

So you’ve been smoking for a while and you think it’s time for a little break? No worries, we’ve all been there. Maybe you feel like you haven’t been getting as high as you used to, and you miss that lifted sensation. Or perhaps you just feel like your brain’s been living in the clouds for the past few months (or years) and it’s time to switch up your daily routine. Regardless of your reasoning, tolerance breaks can prove to be beneficial to each and every one of us. But that doesn’t mean they’re easy, so it’s best to be fully prepared for the experience.

Below are five crucial steps to take before Day Damn One, Vivian. (That’s a Fresh Prince reference, by the way.)


Can a Tolerance Break Rejuvenate the Effects of Cannabis?

Acknowledge the Difficulty of the Task at Hand

We’ve all played the “I can quit whenever I want” card, but the truth is, anything you do every day will cause some sort of withdrawal when you discard it cold turkey. That extends to drinking, smoking, eating, the route you take to work, even the people you talk to. Your brain/body will crave it, and after a couple days, the no-THC life may have you feeling like “Okay…what if I just smoked like..a bowl. Not even a whole bowl, just a couple hits off the top right corner.”


Cannabis isn’t making you lazy, your bad habits are

You won’t feel any physical pain, but I’ll be damned if you don’t begin to think of it any time your mind wanders. After about two weeks, the feeling subsides, but those first 14 days can be a bit tough.

Get Rid of All Your Cannabis

Whether you smoke it all or disperse it amongst your tribe of smoke buds, get rid of all of your cannabis. You might be thinking you’ll just save a little bit for when you plan on smoking again, but a tolerance break requires the full Out Of Sight, Out Of Mind approach. Keeping even just enough to hit the one-hitter a couple times will have you doomed before starting. Once that feeling of withdrawal kicks in, you’ll head right over to your hidden supply and indulge. But as soon as you come down, that feeling of guilt will set in, and ooooh baby, you do not want to feel that at the end of a high.


Cannabis Detox Symptoms and Withdrawal Remedies

Tell Your Friends That You’re Taking a Break

You have to tell your friends that you’re taking a break so they know not to tempt you with goodies. After two weeks, it’s a lot easier to not smoke when alone, but kicking it with the homies is when you’ll really be tested. It can be rough when you’re pregaming with drinks and conversation before a night out, and then someone whips out a joint and asks, “Anyone want to smoke before we leave?” and everyone except you can oblige. Telling your friends curbs the peer pressure to participate, which will prove to be a vital part of this journey.


Domestic Bliss: How to Coexist With a Partner Who’s Cannabis-Free

Find a New Hobby

Without smoking, you’ll have a lot of free time on your hands. Find something productive to do with it. My suggestion is something creative or active. Write a screenplay. Learn Photoshop. Start a running program. Do something that your future self will thank you for. Something that you can look back on once you begin smoking again and say, “Well, at least I didn’t waste that time.”


Does Cannabis Help or Hinder Creativity?

Stay Focused; Don’t Break

Pick a date and stick to it. You’ll find that the discipline it takes to not smoke will carry over to all areas of your life. There’s going to be times where you’re tempted to break, but make a promise to yourself that you won’t smoke. On the bright side, once you finally light up again, you’re going to be smaaaacked. Good luck, my friends.


Lead image: (Juanmonino/iStock)

Dante Jordan's Bio Image

Dante Jordan

Dante Jordan is an Associate Subject Matter Expert for Leafly, where he specializes in informational and lifestyle content pertaining to cannabis strains and products. He also manages the Leafly strain database.

View Dante Jordan's articles

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  • LanceJZ

    That is odd. When I stopped smoking, there was no withdrawal at all. I stopped for months. I’ll have a hit once a month maybe now. I never had an issue with this.
    My favorite strain, Purple Train-wreck.

    • Michael Bradbury

      It’s a psychological addiction, not a physical one. So if you are “healthy” in your ways of dealing with lifes stresses (don’t light up every time there’s stress) then you won’t have any trouble. IF you smoke as a response to trouble or to not feel things as much, then you’ll have a psych addiction and might always have trouble giving it up. or any other drug you self medicate with. its’ not the drug, it’s us.
      And how we handle it.
      Or don’t.

      • LanceJZ

        OH, I see. Yeah, nothing like when I tried to stop drinking coffee.
        I was working, so I could afford to smoke it more often. I’m not working now.

        • kevin harris

          Wow Lance, you smoke coffee? No wonder you had trouble quitting…

      • Molly Swipas

        LOL Where’s your medical degree from? Let me guess… You don’t have one.

        ”IF you smoke as a response to trouble or to not feel things as much, then you’ll have a psych addiction and might always have trouble giving it up.”

        I smoke all day, every day. I don’t smoke if I have a headache (good for migraines though) and usually have no urge to smoke when I have a cold. I’ve gone on vacations for up to a month with no pot, and no problems. I went off for two months because I was starting phentermine to lose some weight medication put on me so I didn’t want the munchies.

        I think it’s a personal thing. I’ve never considered myself ”addicted” to pot even though I’ve smoked almost every day for 16 years now. Except for the breaks I mentioned above.

        • Lou Sancio

          You smoke pot every day? You stupid drug addled fool. It smells like poop. I bet this is why your cat is dead. You were too high to save it. While you were binging on Twinkies the poor feline choked to death.
          When you were on suicide watch were they watching you self medicate your fat ass with marijuana and bon bons?

          • EQOAnostalgia

            Lou, you look like the underside of a d-bag, and you look about 150lbs over weight. So you might want to stfu neckbeardboi.

          • Lou Sancio

            I just looked at your profile. You are a racist, mysoginistic drug addicted social misanthrope.LOL.

          • EQOAnostalgia .

            So many labels for such a fat, uneducated dipshit.

          • image .png

            Why are you so negative and why even bring somebody’s dead cat into the discussion? People can do whatever they want with their lives. And bringing up suicide is just wrong. Some people smoke to cope with those thoughts and take there minds off all the shitty stuff life has to offer. You being negative like that is just wrong. And are you not a adult did your parents not beat you enough.

          • Molly Swipas

            He’s a very sad pathetic adult bed wetter who harasses me on the internet. It’s all he’s got. I feel sorry for him.

          • Sledge Hammer

            What a f*ck1ng arrogant as*hole you are and a stupid uneducated as well…try to troll people without any argument.
            Its known that cannabis can open mind and enchance intelligence, maybe you should try but i am afraid it will not help with people like you which have no bevaviour and waste time of your nonsense life to hate people to compensate your ugly character.
            for u everyone with a problem seems to be a drug-addict but in causal logic then you are the biggest one because wasting time just to hate people is really a mental problem and make conclusions my 6 year old cousin would not do (a cat die because someone is high…LOL)
            I hope batards like you have no pets as you will surely treat same bad as you are a hater for your own fun.

          • Carmen

            Wow. It’s sad that in a peaceful community of people simply having a discussion there’s always that one asshole that likes to take it to another level and insult someone for no fucking reason. Shit you’re probably way older than me and you behave like more of a child. Did your parents never teach you that if you don’t have anything nice to say, don’t say anything at all? Yea well if you’re gonna insult someone and not keep your mouth shut at least write something intelligible/ meaningful and not just some incoherent bullshit that sounds like a middle schooler trying to be edgy. Grow the fuck up dude, and keep your negative comments in your tiny brain. In truth no one gives a fuck about your opinion, and on top of that it seems like you don’t even smoke so why the fuck are you here? Save the immaturity for YouTube and stop commenting on shit that obviously doesn’t concern you

        • BuckCronkite

          And you, Molly, with your incredible lithe and lissom figure, do NOT have physical withdrawals. What’s your number?

        • Alexandra Shick

          You are not the voice of everyone else’s experience though. It can be psychologically addicting in a sense where some people use it to escape from stress instead of dealing and coping with it naturally. Every drug can be addicting is some way or another.

          • Molly Swipas

            Caffeine can be addicting. So can sugar. So can shopping. So can tanning.

            I myself said ”I think it’s a personal thing.” Okay now? Okay.

        • Chris Derham

          he never said he had one so stfu and go pet your cat

      • EQOAnostalgia

        It’s absolutely physical. I don’t know anyone who “lights up” for stress, we are talking cannabis here, not cigarettes, Iv’e consumed cannabis for the better part of 20 years, and i can tell you know precisely jack s@#$ about it. Cannabis can, and will exasperate your state of mind. If you are anxious to begin with when you toke up, prepare for a panic attack 9/10 times. It elevates your current mood, and yes it can help to take an edge off a bit, but this is NOT alcohol and should not be consumed in the same way.

        It takes years of knowledge, and experimentation of the hundreds of different strains, to speak about a FRACTION of the things you spoke about. I’m willing to bet you never toked up a single day in your life, and you’re one of those “holier than thou” idiots dropping into something you don’t understand because your church, or tilted view on reality told you to.

        Also, tell someone who’s suffering from side effects, or serious withdrawal symptoms that “it’s not the drug, it’s you”

        • BuckCronkite

          What’s ‘church’ got to do with anything? You sound mad as hell. If you’ve got a beef with God talk to Him instead of berating a total stranger over his lack of experience in smoking hundreds of strains. If you’re fat the THC is lodged in cells and you’ll have more difficulty with physical withdrawals, and even so, it’ll be akin to quitting caffeine. Are you fat? I mean body-type, not between the ears. Oh and by the way, Jesus loves you and paid for your sins.

          • EQOAnostalgia .

            Ok CuckCronkite, tell me more about how your invisible spaghetti monster saved my mortal soul.

          • BuckCronkite

            EQOAnostalgia — “Moreover, brethren, I declare unto you the gospel which I preached unto you, which also ye have received, and wherein ye stand;
            By which also ye are saved, if ye keep in memory what I preached unto you, unless ye have believed in vain.
            For I delivered unto you first of all that which I also received, how that Christ died for our sins according to the scriptures;
            And that he was buried, and that he rose again the third day according to the scriptures”
            So here’s the deal: you can either believe the Gospel and go to Heaven because your sin and everyone else’s has been taken off the table, OR you can have it your way, as they say at Burger King, and march off to bitch for eternity about How unfair God and everybody was to you while you lived, so called.

          • eqoanostalgia I do not agree

        • Higgens

          “you’re one of those “holier than thou” idiots”

          Irony is best when its unintentional. Thanks.

          • EQOAnostalgia .

            Lol i stumbled into a f’ing circle jerk. Go to church choir boys.

        • Travis Morgan

          How the hell have you been smoking that long and don’t know anyone who smokes to reduce stress? That’s what most adults use it for.

      • tjt1012

        daaaaayum. This comment thread looks like it’s full of some people that are out and having some stoner rage! Yea yea, I get it. Us folks that are self medicating and suffer when we run out make the plight that it is not addictive look bad. Which I do ultimately agree it’s not addictive, but if you are self medicating and run out you’re going to have issues. People of sound mind that are smoking because they find it fun can run out no problem but the people who self medicate are out of medicine. No different than someone that is depressed stopping their anti-depressants or someone that has anxiety running out of their anti-anxiety meds. I believe walking around without being on your meds simply gets confused with withdrawal. I already know I’m going to get people that will say they do not suffer mental illness but still feel withdrawal and get angry at the insinuation that they suffer from mental illness. I used to be one of those people. It’s hard to take a serious look at yourself and realize you suffer from depression or other mental illnesses. The comment thread proves that point – look at all the rage some of you folks have on this thread.

      • Andrea Kirtley Steiner

        Actually, if you do some more reading on the subject, it’s both. The brain physically becomes altered and depends on it, depending on how much and how long you’ve been using. I used a concentrated oil for about a month and am going through withdrawal pretty severely after my supply was confiscated. I did not sleep from saturday evening until 5 am Monday morning and have had a headache most of the time since a day or so after my last dose. But, it depends on your body composition, health, what other supplements and drugs you take regularly, etc.

    • Midland_Dog

      you didnt smoke heavy for 4 months straight day 5 sober still in tears and shaking, i quit ciggies and went cold turkey on the amphetamine family, they were no were nearly as bad, 5 cones wont get me stoned

  • Mark Skinner

    I have not had a “break” for ten years, and hopefully the next ten will be the same. There is no such thing as a “break”. You just stop.

    • bigdizzle

      I have noticed my body only needs. 2 day break to get as lifted as the first time. I encourage everyone to take a 2 day break then try it on day 3. Woowwwww so amazing

    • EQOAnostalgia

      Nonsense. Iv’e taken several breaks since i started smoking in the early 90’s. You just don’t like the idea of having to stop something you think you are in control of. That’s why this offended you and your response was semi-hostile.

      • BuckCronkite

        You sure are a contentious mf.

  • Chad Dunning

    This is kinda extreme isn’t it?! I mean… the first three steps make this sound like a heroin intervention process! Come on Leafly! I was really excited to read this article because I preach this a LOT every day as a budtender. It makes sense. It’s nice to regain that old high. But also good for the mind, body, and WALLET!!! Just have some will power, and recognize that it’s always good to change life up a little! Even just for a little while! Come on Leafly. Better writers that don’t talk down to the community please…

    Edit: Oh, and every article EVER written about cannabis effects should ALWAYS have a disclaimer. **Everyones body is unique. Not true for all users**

    • kevin harris

      Exactly. You’re not abstaining from opiates or benzos, so fucking chill. 14 DAYS?? I can smoke every day for years and when i don’t have it i really honestly don’t even think about it. And i have kicked the hard shit, which actually does take 12-14 days, depending on the habit. Weed has absolutely no habit-forming potential. Take your time off, enjoy it even. Peace.

    • EQOAnostalgia

      Some of us smoke constantly, and i mean constantly. I smoke a lot to curb my social anxiety, and i’m the kind of smoker who’s either smoking all day, or not smoking at all, THC has a negative affect on me at first, and causes more anxiety, it’s not until i pass a certain tolerance threshold that i can toke up and truly be anxiety free. Usually i get to that point with very heavy CBD strains, then i switch to more racy stuff later, once iv’e had time to adjust. So this applies to me, and others like me, which is a small demographic admittedly… HOWEVER, a lot of people experience stomach upset and sleep problems even if they only smoke moderately. Cannabis withdrawal is a thing, and it’s not very fun, but it sure af isn’t opiate addiction, and i sure af don’t want to ever find out what that’s like.

  • bunny

    I’ve quit several times in my life but nothing prepared me for the time I quit in college. People have compared it to a withdraw of heroin, they aren’t kidding. My legs were always itching, jerking, I have RLS but I don’t think I had it prior. I could not sleep for what seems forever, felt nauseous. I depended on it to sleep during the neighbors all day barking dog when I sleep days. It was so miserable, I now smoke again, and knowing the symptoms and how hellish it was, I don’t think quitting is an option in the future. (I also wrote this prior to seeing the comment about marijuana/heroin comment, it really is like heroin withdraw but that’s after many, many, many years of daily smoking. I had stopped smoking 3 times in my life, started smoking at 17 and am 40 now and I quit whenever I felt the marijuana draining my ability to comprehend a full sentence when I’m not even high but now, since I don’t socialize, I don’t have to quit.)

    • kevin harris


    • Sledge Hammer

      i agree…Restless legs, sweating like hell in the night and temperatur sensations. all can be explained and is logic. The temperatur sensations exists cause cannabinoids are reacting with TRPV-1 which is the Vanilloid receptor which measures temperatures above 40 degress on the skin, thats why cannabis can give you a warmer feeling than it is in reality.
      The most negative thing is sleeplessness and sweating, all is caused by the receptor-downregulation starting in the body if you stop consuming.
      Many friends have this experiences but all smoke all day, every day for a longer period!

      some need 3 days for forget their love mary jane, in some cases it needs month…this in my opinion is also related to your social situation and ability to focus on other things

      • EQOAnostalgia

        This is more down to Earth, what @disqus_wj9hI8R6w3:disqus is saying. The sweating and sleeplessness are the most common issues, also mild stomach upset can occur, i attribute this to lack of appetite catching up with you, this usually leads to a case of the squirts. Also some mild anxiety is quite common. But bunny makes this sound like hell on Earth. It isn’t a pleasant experience by any means, but i don’t think any of us will be locking ourselves in dorm room, trapped in a personal hell of drug withdrawal lol.

      • kevin harris

        Well this is a gross simplification. There are so many exogenous ligands for the TRPV1 receptors, most notably capsaicin. So if abstinence syndrome of exogenous cannabinols causes a trpv1 ion-channel activation, the same paradoxic analgesia can be induced with a calcium supplement and some spicy food, or going for a run/ walk to release anandamides… Further, since trpv1 nociceptors play a role in immunological response, the op i would think would be more concerned about the potential of an endocrinological or immunological disorder, whose symptoms may be masked by exogenous cannabinoids. Peace.

        • Sledge Hammer

          please explain more detailed how a TRPV1-disorder can be brought in balance.
          By the way the Vanniloid-receptor is not the capsaicin.receptor regulates/measures another temperature-range.

          If i stop regular use then i feel cold even when i am warm, especially my feet feel cold but they are very warm…..same shower-water feels warmer on whole body than on my feet….this goes away after some days of break so i dont think its a masking of a disorder…its a result of heavy consuming, also this is common to many friends which are heavy consumers.

          maybe also the sweating has to do with the fact that cannabis reduce the body-temperature by 0.5-1 degree and the body get used to this lower temperature and then when stop consumming it heats up but the measurement is still used in lower temperatures?

          i think the solution of this topic will also solve the miracle of CHS (Cannabis Hyperemetic Syndrom) which seems to be more common than known yet. I could imagine that not only cannabinoids are the reason, maybe even some terpenes can bring the temperature-system out of balance.

      • Dehart Connections

        The temperature’s rising
        The fever is high
        Can’t see no future
        Can’t see no sky My feet are so heavy
        And so is my head
        I wish I was a baby
        I wish I was dead Cold turkey has got me on the run
        Cold turkey has got me on the run My body is aching
        Goose pimple bone
        I can’t see nobody
        Leave me alone My eyes are wide open
        I can’t go to sleep
        One thing I’m sure of
        I’m in at the deep freeze Cold turkey has got me on the run
        Cold turkey has got me on the run Thirty six hours
        Rolling in pain
        Praying to someone
        Free me…

    • EQOAnostalgia

      This is a bit extreme. RLS is a thing for some, and we are all different, but come tf on lol.

      • kevin harris

        EQOA, Yes, RLS is real, a kind of akathisia, and can be debilitating, mostly by causing insomnia. But there are a ton of ways to treat those symptoms, like with a N-acetyl-Cysteine supplement…

  • Dr. C

    Maybe if folks just took shorter regular breaks; every Monday, or one weekend/ month…it does not need to be SO extreme.

    • EQOAnostalgia

      It isn’t what i would call extreme, it just isn’t pleasant.

    • Dehart Connections

      I like that idea better Id hate to give go month or more not smokin my perfect pipe

  • Michael Morris

    Hello, say I didn’t really use the Leafly guides to help me through my tolerance break. But was actually told by my Dr’s and Psychiatrist that you need to just quite smoking for awhile because I had been taking prescription pills for my depression, so I did what I was told to do, and wasn’t smoking for a few weeks at all. And here in Minnesota it isn’t legal yet besides for recreational uses if you have your medical card, and so I already had it at the time when doctors were telling me this. I told them I smoked marijuana for my severe major depression I have along with headaches and back pain that I was prescribed the medical card for and to help me with some of these things. So after the couples weeks had gone by, and after not being able to sleep for numerous nights, and head throbbing with horrible headaches, I just said screw these doctors and anyone else telling me to quite smoking weed. As I was an everyday smoker for over a year and that’s where I think I just needed this break I did.. So after the weeks had gone by I had taken my first concentrated hit after the weeks of not smoking and had a headache at that time and after i smoked some oil I felt so much better and my headache was gone and felt so much more relaxed. Not going to listen to any primary doctors that don’t know anything about cannabis and how it actually saves lives than killing. Been able to do and feel way better with it, yes it may cost way more than pills but fuck pills they don’t taste good and made me gag every time I’d take all my pills for the day. Got me through High School and has helped me with my depression, and even with having a Medical card my mother wanted me to stop basically for ever and telling her that it helps just didn’t get it through her head you know and that’s what was hard because I have a medical card for this purpose but I was just smoking a lot and that’s what killed me and made things worse. Now I’m doing better and health is improving. #Legalizeweed #Saveslifesinsteadofkilling

  • Ignatius J. Reilly

    I have smoked for many years. The few times I have quit, I got some pretty uncomfortable withdrawals. Since besides the fact that I love to get high on herb, I was also using it for insomnia. When I quit I did not sleep well for months. Also, got some weird twitchy thing happening while trying to sleep. It felt like these annoying random jolts of electricity all through my body. I also became nauseous and had almost no appetite for about a week. Had to remind myself to eat. Then, after about a month when I would actually start to get a few hours sleep, I would be overwhelmed by some of the most vivid, super saturated dreams/nightmares I’ve ever experienced. It’s a strange sensation wanting to go to sleep but being freaked out by the crazy dreams you know are coming. This went for about four months.
    The funny thing was, I had no cravings to smoke. Not even like a mild food craving you might get for your favorite food, nothing. I even had herb in the house and I knew if I blazed I would feel better, but I had no interest.
    Needles to say, I have no plans to stop using herb any time soon.

    • EQOAnostalgia

      Yeah this is indicative of my symptoms as well. It’s sad because as you can see in this very thread, people are quick to dismiss it. A. Because it’s not very well understood at all, despite literally hundreds of years of cannabis consumption… and we can thank the powers that be for that bs!

      B. Most people don’t treat it with any kind of respect, since it’s “just pot dude” it’s a drug… actually cannabis is a combination of multiple drugs, and it turns out, those of us who smoke it daily, yes we get withdrawals. But good luck trying to explain this to people who don’t indulge, and even better luck getting through to the deniers, they are the worst! Because they are the ones who smoke it, and then feverishly defend it, because someone said something negative about their “precious”

      But it’s very true, that cannabis does cause physical withdrawal in most users, whether they are aware of it or not. Is this a serious issue? Absolutely not, unless you count some sleepless nights and a case of the squirts serious. Does it suck? Yes… yes it does.

      • Dmember

        If a person is in withdrawal…they WILL know it, or it isn’t withdrawal. I’ve never known anyone that ever had withdrawal.

  • Dmember

    To bring your tolerance back down….just stay off the stuff for 2 full days. (latest news)

  • joe

    A MJ smoker off and on for 40+ yrs ! I pick it up in the service ! I have a MMJ card in Ma and I research diff strains an I look at all Indicas that give less anxiety and I am a 100% Disable Vet with anxiety. There are strains that give less anxiety than others. I use diff grafts to help and PPLs remarks with my research. For Ex: I look at effects and medical so if ” Euphoric ” is in the top 3 I will not smoke it or vapor. Since I have been smoking Medical Marijuana I find my self smoking less and it works instead of reaching for that extra ” Pill ” for my disability . I know I will have withdrawal if I ” Guilt ” and to think about it also make me ” Nervous ” about what might come with the withdrawals ! So I will cross that Bridge when it happens ! Peace everybody and stop attacking each other on this Post we can help each other out

  • Leo Vicious

    take some herbal sleepers for two days and gone are the withdrawls and if its really that bad get some serqual from the doc for three days that will level out the dopamine. thats why I still have my seq.

  • Bob Khan

    I guess I must be one of the lucky ones. I am on day 2 of a cannabis break with no ill effects. For the past several months I have been taking around 20 to 25mg of THC sublingually every night via homemade tincture. I use it to treat chronic pain and anxiety. I also just like getting high. Come to think of it, I didn’t have any withdrawal symptoms many years ago when I quit in my teens.

    Giving up cigarettes and caffeine, now that was brutal. I don’t do tobacco anymore but If I stop my daily coffee, I get really severe headaches.