What should I smoke?

Howard S. Becker (American sociologist) suggested, in a landmark study of case reports, that individuals must realize and interpret the psychoactive effects of cannabis before they can experience weed’s positive subjective effects in the long run. With experience using cannabis, one becomes more adept at identifying its subjective effects, suggesting that the “cannabis experience” will be interpreted differently based on one’s intake history. 

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Are we all the same?

As an example, while a seasoned cannabis user might enjoy a pleasant “high” after smoking a triple-barrel-double-percolated 1-gallon bong, a novice might find it unpleasant. While Becker’s argument has little experimental support, it is clear that a person’s cannabis use history affects their reaction to the cannabinoids. For example, frequent cannabis smokers (for the purposes of this post, those who smoke four to seven days per week) may be more likely to exhibit tolerance to cannabis-related effects than infrequent pot smokers (those who smoke less than once per week).

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What is ‘Tolerance’?

The term tolerance refers to the need to consume more of a drug in order to achieve the desired effects and simply means that the user has become accustomed to the possible effects of the substance. In addition, frequent users may be able to tolerate an amount of concentrated cannabis sufficient to produce negative subjective effects in infrequent users. Therefore, any investigation into the subjective effects of cannabis should consider the individual’s cannabis usage history before making any broad conclusions.

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What does history say?

The majority of the experimental evidence about tolerance in marijuana users focuses on the potential negative effects of moderate to large concentrations of delta-9-THC. In the laboratory, these negative subjective effects are most often observed in infrequent pot smokers. Researchers report elevated ratings of “Impaired,” “Confused,” and “Sluggish,” along with decreased ratings of “Clear-headed” in infrequent users after smoking marijuana (Acute Effects of Cannabis on Breath-Holding Duration). Kirk and de Wit (1999) observed that infrequent marijuana users reported a decreased “Drug Liking” following a large dose of delta9-THC compared with a placebo, suggesting that they might have found the effects of the large dose somewhat aversive.

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Have there been any other studies?

Studies examining marijuana-related effects infrequent smokers rarely mention these negative subjective effects. In Kirk and de Wit’s study, frequent smokers didn’t report a change in “Drug Liking” after taking the large dose. Hart and colleagues (2001) observed dramatic increases in ratings probing positive subjective effects, such as euphoria, after participants had smoked a doobie, whereas negative subjective effects ratings did not show significant changes not significantly altered. 

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What’s the conclusion?

According to The Pot Book: A Complete Guide to Cannabis, THC-related tolerance develops differently for positive vs. negative effects. Take a look at our shop to continue your journey.