Marijuana can be smoked for quite some time before tolerance builds, depending on the individual. How marijuana works in individual people’s bodies is not well understood as some develop tolerance sooner than others but the build up in the system creates a dependence regardless of the individual who uses marijuana. Learn more about how tolerance develops and strategies to quit smoking if it becomes a problem.


Developing Tolerance

Tolerance is characterized by the need for a larger dose of something to maintain the original effect. Doctors do not understand why tolerance occurs but it can create both psychological and physiological factors. What is known includes the following bits of information:

  • Tolerance to the effects of THC has been demonstrated in adolescent and animals in studies
  • The mechanisms which build tolerance to THC are thought to involve changes in cannabinoid receptor function
  • Tolerance to marijuana does not mean addiction or dependence developed, rather it is defined as withdrawal symptoms when use is discontinued
  • The body’s normal physiologic response is withdrawal
  • Tolerance means the body has adapted to the presence of the drug and will not respond the same


Tolerance Symptoms

The characteristics of tolerance to marijuana include the following characteristics, which may look different depending on the individual.


  • A need for increased amounts of marijuana or THC to achieve desired effect
  • Diminished effect on user with continued use of the drug


The above symptoms are not worrisome in and of themselves, as it does not necessarily indicate addiction. Instead, consider the above factors an indication the effects of marijuana no longer work as intended. Tolerance, dependence and addiction can be present simultaneously while, on the other hand, each condition is considered a separate entity. Continuous daily use which builds in frequency can develop tolerance in a person’s body over a 2-4 week period. Time periods vary person to person. Individuals diagnosed with depression or anxiety may develop tolerance faster than recreational or medicinal users.


High Tolerance

No markers exist to clearly delineate what ‘high tolerance’ to marijuana consists of, but it is suggested each strain has a different ceiling. It also depends on an individual’s body chemistry including underlying psychological or physiological conditions. More research is needed in this area to better understand how marijuana tolerance is processed by the body and brain.


Lowering Tolerance Levels

When a person wants to lower individual tolerance levels, it can be possible to do this by cutting back on the amount and frequency with which marijuana is used. Other ways include:

  • Reduce the amount used daily
  • Start the day with a lower dose
  • Alternate one week on, one week off to preserve effects
  • Incorporate regular exercise and healthy diet into daily regimen along with marijuana use to help flush it out of the system


Dependence does not always lead to addiction but if a problem persists with quitting marijuana, it may be time to seek help quitting. Many programs and support groups exist to assist individuals with goals of quitting marijuana, which vary depending on a person’s needs, location and desire to quit.


If you are looking for support in quitting marijuana, call Hired Power. We are here to support your journey to recovery from marijuana dependence or addiction. Call us to find out how we can help you get started.