Cannabis life advice: When is it time to smoke less weed?

Published on September 14, 2020
Ngaio Bealum explains it all
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Dear, Ngaio,

What’s a normal amount of cannabis to smoke? My tolerance is through the roof since these shelter-in-places started. Should I be concerned?

—Lungs McGee


Dear, Lungs McGee,

I am generally in favor of people being more tolerant of all sorts of things, especially in these uncertain and fractious times. However, when it comes to cannabis use, too much tolerance is… not so great. Not only is it expensive, it’s boring and time-consuming.

“No one wants to hear you complaining or bragging about how you can’t get high from just one blunt.”

No one wants to hear you complaining or bragging about how you can’t get high from just one blunt. Why should you need four bong hits to start the day when one could get the job done? If you find yourself smoking more just to feel the same high, and you don’t want to spend all of your money on dabs and shatter, it is definitely time for you to take a “tolerance break”.

Tolerance breaks are easy: Just stop smoking for a while. Cannabis isn’t physically addictive, so there shouldn’t be many withdrawal symptoms. And there are upsides: Your dreams will be more vivid and you will probably save money on munchies.

How does a tolerance break work? And for how long should you abstain? I’m glad you asked. I texted my weed-and-science nerd homie Michael Backes, author of Cannabis Pharmacy: The Practical Guide to Medical Marijuana, to ask him these questions thing and here is our conversation:

“Brain scanning of cannabis users shows that tolerance reduces the density of cannabinoid receptors in the brain. Taking a break of three days or more partially reverses that reduction; 28 days of abstinence completely reverses tolerance.”

—Michael Backes, author, Cannabis Pharmacy

Me: So if you smoke a lot of weed, you start to run out of cannabis receptors?

“Not really ‘run out’…  Think of cannabinoid receptors as cloves stuck in a baked ham. Tolerance reduces how densely they stud the surface of the nerve cells.”

—Michael Backes, author, Cannabis Pharmacy

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And there you have it. Stop over-cloving your ham and your weed receptor studs will become less dense, making it easier for you to get baked.

I know some of you are stoned right now and are thinking: “Baked? Ham? Mmmmm. Who wants a sandwich?” And that’s cool, but for the rest of us who are still paying attention, here is the bottom line:

Lay off the weed for a week or two at least. You will save money, and you will get hella high off of two hits when you get back in the game.

Next month in Leafly advice—Ngaio explains odor etiquette; and weed dealers on Instagram.

Ask him questions in the comments below, or by emailing

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Ngaio Bealum
Ngaio Bealum
Ngaio Bealum is an American comedian, musician, writer, actor, activist, juggler and publisher. He hosted the Netflix show Cooking on High, and hosts the trivia app Daily Bonfire. He writes columns in the Sacramento News & Review, and Cannabis Now, answering questions from readers about marijuana and the politics of legalization.
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