How to Survive The Dreaded Tolerance Break

Putting down the pipe can be hard, but a wide variety of (mostly) non-psychoactive cannabis products can help.

As readers of this publication are likely aware — especially those who read Peter Astrid-Kane’s recent cover story on the lifestyle — going “California Sober” means giving up alcohol, but allowing room for the intentional consumption of cannabis and other psychedelics. For some it may simply be a way to cut out empty calories and eliminate hangovers from their lives. For others, including some recovering addicts, pot is a safe release valve, a drug they can turn to without fear of backsliding into blackouts and poor decision making.

Yet at the start of this year, I did the exact opposite: I cut out THC. A very casual drinker, I took to mixing cocktails after work instead of packing a bowl. I don’t consider my relationship with cannabis unhealthy — rather, my tolerance had gotten far too high, and I was unable to enjoy all of the fantastic products like tinctures, edibles, and drinkables that roll in around 10mg THC. When an entire bag of gummies wasn’t enough to catch a buzz, I knew it was time for a break. Two months later, I’m still taking random THC-free “tolerance days” whenever I notice my threshold for pot increasing.

If you’re a daily cannabis consumer, tolerance breaks are hard. If you consider cannabis to be your medicine, taking a break can be even harder. As someone who medicates for anxiety, depression, and PTSD, taking a few weeks off was no small task. The benefits of a tolerance break are supported by science (albeit, scientific testing on rats): Research says that cannabinoid receptors in the body become less sensitive over time, and this trend appears reversible by taking breaks. Longtime stoners can certainly verify this anecdotally. 

Luckily, a wide range of non-psychoactive or very subtly psychoactive cannabis products were available to make lowering my tolerance a whole lot easier. Here’s some of the CBD, hemp, and low-dose products I used to take the edge off while still working toward my goal of a lowered tolerance to THC.

Anxiety Alleviation
20:1 CBD Tincture by Cosmic View
30ml bottle | $62
cosmicview.com

Cosmic View’s 20:1 CBD:THC tincture is the most effective tincture I’ve ever tried for anxiety, and I’ve used it religiously for over a year. It’s not effective because it’s the most concentrated on the market — several other brands offer tinctures with upwards of 700 or even 1000 mg CBD, while this tincture only contains about 450mg. However, Cosmic View’s tincture is made using a whole-plant extraction, which means they extract cannabis slowly to collect the terpenes and the other cannabinoids rumored to help CBD penetrate the body. The effectiveness of whole-plant CBD is also scientifically supported, with studies saying that it appears significantly more effective, especially for patients that require a high dose. It’s also made with olive oil instead of coconut MCT oil, giving it a more pleasant taste than most tinctures.

To use a tincture, drop oil under the tongue and hold it there for as long as possible (at least 30 seconds). The medication absorbs through blood vessels in the mouth, and users can feel the benefits within approximately 15 minutes. 

This tincture is so effective, it’s convinced even my most skeptical friends that CBD is the real deal and not placebo. I use it any time I feel my anxiety creeping in and I can’t (or shouldn’t) take THC. The only problem is that this tincture, made by a small, mother-daughter company, is a little hard to find. The delivery service Sava, however, seems to almost always have them in stock. 

Getting Energized
CBD/CBDV Tincture by Blue Forest Farms
30ml bottle | $60
blueforestfarms.com

Sometimes I turn to high energy strains like Jack Herer, Red Congolese, and Durban Poison for a boost in creativity and motivation throughout the day. When I’m on a tolerance break, however, I’m left looking elsewhere for that added pep in my step. 

The Advanced Energy Formula CBD/CBDV tincture from Blue Forest Farms is such a great substitute, I’ve continued to use it during the workday when I rarely introduce psychoactive cannabinoids. It combines 14mg CBD, 6mg CBDV, 0.5mg CBG, and 0.5mg THCV with energy-inducing botanicals like lemon extract for an uplifting effect that isn’t psychoactive. CBDV is a very rare cannabinoid, thought to decrease seizures, reduce inflammation, enhance muscle function, and combat nausea. It’s also known to increase focus and creativity. CBG, on the other hand, is known to have neuroprotective effects, decrease inflammation, and, according to some, fight cancer. Lastly, THCV has a very subtle psychoactive effect and may increase focus, regulate blood sugar, and decrease appetite. 

One note of caution: Because Blue Forest Farms opted for precisely dosed, specific cannabinoids rather than a whole-plant extraction in making this tincture, users have to adjust for a bell-curve tolerance. This describes how products made with isolated CBD become less effective when users take too much or too little. Experiment to find the “sweet spot” dose that works best for your body.

Slow Your Roll
Dad Grass Pre-Rolled Hemp Joints
0.7 g hemp flower per joint | $70
dadgrass.com

Few methods of ingesting cannabis are as satisfying as sparking up a joint. If you really want to smoke but only need a subtle high, Dad Grass’s hemp joints are a great substitute. They also sell quarter and half-ounce hemp flower, if you insist on rolling your own. 

Packaged in a discreet, cigarette-style flip top box, Dad Grass’s 0.7mg pre-rolled joints are pure CBD-rich hemp goodness. They smell like a joint, taste like a joint, and smoke like a joint, but don’t get you high. The large box has 10 joints for a full quarter-ounce of hemp, but if that’s not enough, customers can buy as many as a carton at a time on the company’s website. Each joint is both seed and stem-free and made without shake, making these hemp cigarettes stand out in a sea of lazily-made CBD flower products.

The Cheat Day
Artet
37.5mg per 750ml bottle | $55
artet.com

Just like with a diet, cutting THC out entirely isn’t always realistic. Taking scheduled, carefully monitored cheat days can make it easier to sustain a tolerance break, especially if you’re breaking for more than a week at a time. On days when I knew I would be Zooming into a social event or had more trouble than usual relaxing after work, I poured myself a glass of a low-dose cannabis cocktail with Artet instead of whipping out my dab rig. 

Artet is a cannabis-infused, non-alcoholic, aperitif-style beverage. It has a subtle floral and fruity flavor, largely due to terpene-rich ingredients that enhance your high. Thyme, for example, is a flavorful ingredient high in the terpene myrcene, giving this beverage an added muscle-relaxing effect. Each dose is only 2.5 mg, so it satisfies the desire for THC without any loss of function. Each bottle comes with a shot glass for accurate dosing. 

For an imitation Aperol-spritz, mix one serving of Artet with soda water and a slice of citrus. If you’re looking for a boozy mix, I also like to mix one dose of Artet, two ounces of gin, tonic water, and pomegranate seeds. Cheers!


Veronica Irwin is a contributing writer. Twitter @vronirwin

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