The Hazy Truth. Why Occasional Cannabis Users Get Higher

Cannabis has left the shadows of prohibition and entered mainstream culture with gusto. Legalization has swept across North America faster than a summer wildfire.

Yet myths and misconceptions still swirl around this multifaceted plant.

One area still cloaked in haze is how tolerance impacts getting high. Countless campfire debates have raged around whether regular users can even get stoned anymore.

Meanwhile, the recent explosion of ultra-potent products like wax and shatter concentrates seemingly contradict that notion.

So who is right? Do frequent cannabis consumers even feel anything anymore? Or do concentrates and extracts override tolerance so they rocket even seasoned veterans to the moon?

The answers have profound implications for cannabis regulation, workplace safety, impaired driving, and more. Let’s clear the smoke and uncover the science.

Building Bud Tolerance

Most cannabis enthusiasts have witnessed firsthand how tolerance builds with regular use. Neophytes may get couch-locked and spineless after a few hits.

Meanwhile, their friend who sparks up morning, noon, and night can still function fine after blowing through several bowls.

The prevailing notion used to be that frequent users eventually stopped getting high at all. But is that really true? Do seasoned veterans truly stop feeling cannabis’ effects entirely? Or does tolerance merely dull certain outcomes while leaving others intact?

Interesting new research reveals that frequent cannabis consumers do indeed build substantial tolerance to many of the plant’s effects. However, they continue experiencing several signatures of being stoned.

A 2024 study published in the Journal of Cannabis Research examined how cannabis tolerance impacts getting high. Researchers assessed two groups of frequent cannabis consumers. One group used cannabis occasionally, defined as 1-2 days per week. The other group used it daily.

Both groups inhaled cannabis with 15-30% THC, reflecting legal retail products. This potency far exceeds traditional black market flower averaging around 5% THC previously studied for tolerance research.

Researchers measured intoxication before and after participants smoked self-supplied cannabis products. Outcomes included reaction time, memory, and decision-making. These provide insight into impairment from being stoned.

The results clearly demonstrated neurological tolerance in daily users. After smoking, occasional consumers exhibited slowed reaction time and impaired memory compared to a control group who didn’t inhale any cannabis.

Meanwhile, daily users showed virtually no change in those areas after blazing up. Their extensive cannabis exposure effectively “immunized” them against some signature effects of getting high.

Yet despite this tolerance, daily users did experience acute effects. After smoking, they took longer to complete a decision-making task. However their accuracy remained unchanged. This suggests cannabis still impacted them but they prioritized safety over speed.

These findings shatter outdated notions that frequent consumers stop getting high entirely. Tolerance only dulls certain effects like slower reaction time and memory impairment. But cognitive and behavioral changes persist in several areas regardless of past cannabis use.

The High Behind the Wheel

Cannabis tolerance holds monumental importance for public health and safety. Nowhere looms larger than the hot button link between blazing up and roadway risks.

Cannabis impairs key abilities necessary for safe driving like reaction time, coordination, and concentration.

But how does tolerance impact those crash risks? Do frequent users develop enough neurological immunity to eliminate weed-related impairment behind the wheel?

Once again, the science shatters long-held myths. Regular consumers retain impairment increasing collision risks despite partial tolerance in other areas. Although some real world data suggests cannabis users do actually crash less.

The same 2024 cannabis tolerance study cited above also measured simulated driving skills. Performance declined among occasional and daily cannabis consumers alike directly after smoking, compared to drivers who abstained.

Additional driving simulator research verifies those findings. A 2015 study compared occasional and near daily cannabis consumers after inhaling plant matter with 13% THC. Both groups showed decrements in several driving skills like riskier decision-making, lane weaving, and slower reactions to hazards.

Clearly tolerance does not safeguard frequent users from cannabis impairment relevant to driving, even at today’s ultra-potent THC levels.

Experienced consumers should not feel immune to weed’s effects behind the wheel after lighting up. You may feel normal but still suffer deficits that endanger everyone sharing the road.

Safer Smoking Begins With You

The conflicting crosscurrents around cannabis tolerance raise an obvious question. If regular users build up resilience yet remain prone to impairment, how can people ingest cannabis more safely?

The short answer is moderation. Occasional cannabis consumers exhibit far more behavioral and cognitive changes from THC compared to frequent users. Consuming cannabis concentrates elevates tolerance faster than traditional flower.

Therefore, restricting intake to moderate quantities via gentler methods like tinctures or low-dose edibles allows leveraging cannabis’ medical and wellness benefits while minimizing risk. You can still heal without getting cooked 24/7.

Additionally, frequent yet moderate consumers can take common-sense precautions to prevent cannabis-related harms. Never drive just after blazing up.

Be judicious with potent cannabis extracts that skyrocket tolerance at lightning pace. Monitor your personal changes from cannabis over time. Adjust intake levels and methods accordingly to function optimally while medicating.

Most importantly, stay informed on the latest cannabis science. Yesterday’s conventional wisdom often becomes today’s myth. Tolerance impacts every cannabis consumer differently based on their genetics, brain chemistry, product potency, and other factors. Finding your optimal personal balance takes some trial and error.

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