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Withdrawal from Cannabis

What is cannabis withdrawal, who experiences it, and what can be done about it? In this chapter, you’ll learn a valuable lesson about what happens with cannabis withdrawal.

Chapter 4 · 5 min read
Withdrawal from Cannabis

While we celebrate all of the wonderful things that can come with cannabis medicine, it is still a drug. And as is the case with any drug, you may experience addiction-like behaviors. One of such behaviors is cannabis withdrawal. What exactly is cannabis withdrawal, who does it happen to, and what can be done about it? You’ll learn all of the above and more in this chapter.

What is Cannabis Withdrawal?

Feelings of withdrawal from cannabis are much milder than that of opioids, or even alcohol. But just because feelings of cannabis withdrawal may be mild, this does not mean they should be ignored. Generally speaking, cannabis withdrawal is characterized by:

  • Feeling irritable, aggressive, or even angry.
  • Increased nervousness and anxiety.
  • Sleep disturbances like insomnia and nightmares.
  • Decrease in appetite or even noticeable weight loss.
  • Feelings of restlessness and discomfort.
  • Feelings of depression when none exist before stopping.

Who Experiences Cannabis Withdrawal?

Generally speaking, those who experience cannabis withdrawal are daily consumers, who ingest multiple times per day. These people tend to have addictive personalities that can lead them to over-indulge in just about anything.

These consumers will develop a tolerance to cannabis, where the same amount doesn’t give them the desired effect anymore. This is when the best thing to do is to take a tolerance break.

What is a Tolerance Break?

Put simply, taking a tolerance break is a temporary and deliberate hiatus from consuming a substance or medication. For cannabis consumers, taking breaks to allow our bodies to reset themselves to the cannabinoid THC. Similar to eating spicy food (capsaicin) and taking OTC pain medication, your body builds up a tolerance to a substance. This is true for cannabis, but in a different way, of course.


Cannabinoids like THC that we put in our bodies interact with the endocannabinoid system or the ECS. The ECS is a complex, dynamic and responsive system that knows when it feels overwhelmed with THC. For more information, be sure to read up on our Cannabinoids Guide, so you can learn all the important information about these fascinating compounds.

To compensate for feeling overwhelmed, our ECSs essentially become desensitized. As such, we require an increased potency of cannabis, or more frequent consumption to feel the same effects. The more cannabis we frequently consume, the higher our tolerance gets, generally speaking.

Who Should Take a Tolerance Break?

Patients who need their cannabis medicine daily might not be able to take tolerance breaks. If they can do so, taking a tolerance break can ease the brain fog that can accompany chronic cannabis consumption.

Building up a tolerance to anything depends on the substance, and especially the individual consumer. Researchers have yet to fully grasp the way our bodies adapt to tolerance breaks. Brain images from regular cannabis consumers indicate a decreased number of THC receptors in the brain. In similar studies done on rats, males tend to develop tolerance breaks faster. But such studies have yet to be replicated in humans.

With this in mind, who should take a tolerance break? Anyone who wants to reap these five benefits.

1. Saving Money

It’s simple economics. When you buy fewer products, you can save more money. Buying enough cannabis to support a daily habit can get quite expensive, especially if you live in a state with high taxes. This isn’t even taking into account money spent on cannabis accessories like lighters, hemp wicks, rolling papers, snacks, and so on. This adds up.

2. Feeling Effects Faster After Breaks

When we end our tolerance breaks, we can feel the effects of cannabis faster than when our tolerance was high. We can feel how we want from one social tonic, instead of two, for example. We can achieve the desired effect with lower doses of cannabis, which can also lead to thanks and praise from our bank accounts.

Additionally, taking a tolerance break can allow us to benefit more from the healing properties of cannabis without the side effects of feeling impaired. This is achieved with lower doses. While many cannabis lovers would agree that the “high” of THC is a wonderful side effect, it is still a side effect.

3. More Time to Explore

While on a tolerance break, we can explore menus, articles, and social media content from our local dispensaries. Then hopefully, we can become better, more knowledgeable consumers.

4. Not Contributing to the “Stoner Stereotype”

Building up tolerance isn’t necessarily a bad thing. Even in moderation, we can build up tolerances to just about anything. If our goal is to normalize cannabis consumption and shed the stoner stereotype, taking tolerance breaks can help with that. Taking time off from cannabis indicates we don’t have to consume daily to get the full benefits of the plant medicine.

5. Regaining Mental Clarity

Daily consumption of cannabis may lead to over-impairment and brain fog if we’re not careful. For some consumers, this never becomes an issue. For others, consuming daily may cause us to require mental clarity. Taking a tolerance break can help greatly for our mental clarity. Additionally, we can learn to enjoy our experiences and look forward to them if they only happen weekly.

How Long Should I Take My Tolerance Break?

To fully reset your system and start to reap the benefits of cannabis medicine again, we recommend a tolerance break of at least one week. However, even abstaining for 24 hours can make daily consumers feel the effects faster and stronger. For these daily consumers, it might be a good idea to take a month off, or even six months to a year.

It’s important to reiterate, that cannabis medicine is not one-size-fits-all. The same holds for your tolerance level, condition, pain management, and so on. If you’re a medical patient looking to gain the benefits of tolerance breaks, always discuss with your doctor before doing so.

What We Learned: Withdrawal from Cannabis

While HashDash will always extol the many benefits of cannabis, we will always strive to be fair and balanced. This is why chapters like Withdrawals from Cannabis are important. Here’s an overview of the important lessons we’ve learned in this chapter:

  • While cannabis withdrawal is mild in comparison to other drugs, it is still noticeable, and a very real thing.
  • Cannabis withdrawal depends on your tolerance level.
  • Like all things cannabis, it all comes down to the individual consumer.
  • Taking a tolerance break of one to four weeks can have many benefits, especially for the daily cannabis consumer.
  • If you’re a medical patient looking to gain the benefits of tolerance breaks, always discuss with your doctor before doing so.

Ready to dive into our next chapter? Answer the question below and let's keep moving forward.

  1. American Addiction Centers: Marijuana Withdrawalhttps://americanaddictioncenters.org/withdrawal-timelines-treatments/weed-marijuana
  2. NLM: Brain Images of Daily Cannabis Consumershttps://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/25131716/

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Chapter Question

To fully reset your system and start to reap the benefits of cannabis medicine again, how long should you take a tolerance break for?

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Cannabis withdrawal can be mild, and just show up as irritability. However, in extreme cases, cannabis withdrawal can lead to aggressive behaviors.




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