Taking Tolerance Breaks from Cannabis Medicine


When I first met with a doctor to get my medical marijuana card I came prepared with a page of questions about how it was going to affect my health to be using cannabis long term. The doctor kindly answered all my questions and then he offered this advice: Take regular breaks, if possible, to reset your tolerance and give your body a rest from daily use. When I asked him how often, he suggested to take a month off for every three that you use. That sounded like a reasonable plan.

So this is the model I tried to follow. I quickly found myself challenged at how to make regular breaks happen when I am relying on that medicine for chronic pain. After my first three months of regular use, however, I dutifully took a month off.

That month was kind of hellish. Actually, it was more just the first week that was really difficult. After three months of unlimited daily cannabis use I did not like going without. I had a tough time sleeping, I lost my appetite, I was super irritable and felt really bad for my boy who had to live with my intensity. My pain hadn’t gone anywhere but into the second or third week my mood started to brighten.

After that break, I started back up with regular daily use and my tolerance had totally been reset. I loved that! The next time I went six months without a break instead of three but still took a month off and had pretty much the same experience during that break.

That last break was about one year ago and I again know that I need to take a break. My tolerance feels ridiculous and I have to use much more medicine to get the same effect. Plus, I also feel like my whole body is just bogged down a little and could use a thorough cleanse.

The only problem is that I genuinely am using this medicine for daily pain and at this point I found the thought of being in unmanaged pain for the month very daunting and scary. I was offered the suggestion to vary my strains instead of taking a month long break. That was great advice and worked for dealing with tolerance to some degree but it didn’t address (for me) that my body really was asking for a break.

So, I dug deep, felt the fear, and focused on the things that I know will make a tolerance break easier. Exercise, a clean diet, herbal supplements that promote good moods, a supply of muscle relaxers, bedtime tea, bath salts, and support from the people in my life who know that I use cannabis as medicine. I took all of my medicine to a trusted friend’s house, told them what I was doing and how they could help.


I am now 2 weeks into my break and I am doing ok. The first week was the toughest. I had a night or two of weird sleep, my appetite was gone, and the anxiety that comes from living in a twisted skeleton was heavy. I felt like I was missing a good friend who always knows what to do when I am hurting, uncomfortable, anxious, or blue to make it all better and manageable.

But, as one day turned into a week that longing calmed down and I started to find sanctuary in the other ways that I manage my physical challenges. During week two I actually started craving a daily meditation practice as a place to find peace and calm. I have been sticking to daily gentle exercise like walking, dancing, and yoga which is amazing for calming my anxiety, brightening my mood (for hours!), and takes my pain and discomfort down several notches.

During this time I have also been able to reflect on my relationship with cannabis. I have compassionately accepted that I genuinely use it for more than just pain and that is totally ok. I also use it for anxiety and depression which I find uncomfortable to even talk about because on some level I feel like I have failed if I’m not naturally happy and calm all of the time. I have been able to really examine what I would like my cannabis use to look like going forward and what changes I can make as part of my quest to be as healthy as possible.

Now I am in the home stretch with just 2 weeks to go. I am excited to have a lower tolerance and a fresh attitude that is more balanced and compassionate toward myself and how I handle the things I have to deal with on a daily basis.

I see sunshine in the forecast, my friends…with beautiful puffy vaped clouds.


7 responses to this post.

  1. Hey great post! It is a really good idea to take breaks from cannabis use, i do it as well. Check out my site when you get a chance!Weed Prices

  2. Your site is intriguing. Thanks for reading and for the feedback! Stay Lifted. 🙂

  3. Posted by msfeatherweight on February 17, 2013 at 1:15 am

    Great blog and I’m thinking of taking a tolerance break soon, myself. Good luck!

  4. Thank you! Good luck on your own tolerance break. Be gentle on yourself along the way. =)

  5. I love your artical it is verry good info. to know and I have tried to take a brake from medicating every day all day just to lower my leavels but can’t seam to make it past two days .

  6. sorry about my spelling

  7. It’s toughest to get past those first few days! It’s also worth it when you can. I encourage you to keep working on it as a goal without being too hard on yourself when you aren’t perfect. Thank you for reading! 🙂

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