Actor, comedian, and well-known stoner Seth Rogen has said, “I smoke weed all day and every day and have for 20 years. For me, it's like glasses or shoes.” If the work of Seth Rogen — most famous for the films Knocked Up and Pineapple Express and TV show Freaks & Geeks — isn't ringing a bell, then you've probably heard the Dr. Dre song, “Smoke Weed Every Day.” You've definitely heard of cannabis entrepreneur and pot culture icon Snoop Dogg, who reportedly smokes a whopping 81 blunts per day.
There's no question that there are plenty of celebrities and consumers who smoke weed every day. But it begs a separate question: is smoking weed every day a good idea? If so, what actually happens?
THC and your body and brain
To learn more, we spoke with Dr. Adie Rae, an assistant scientist at the Portland, Oregon-based Legacy Research Institute. She is also the resident subject matter expert in cannabis science and pharmacology here at Weedmaps.
Undoubtedly, cannabis consumption has many benefits, including, but not limited to: managing chronic pain, ameliorating PTSD, helping people gain weight, managing epilepsy and anxiety, and so much more. And let's not forget, cannabis consumption can spark creativity and productivity, and just be fun without any justifications thanks to THC, the cannabinoid that gets you high.
Nonetheless, according to Dr. Rae, there are more reasons not to smoke weed every than to consume with such regularity. While the definition of what constitutes heavy consumption is up for debate, Rae says that heavy cannabis use may increase the risk for the following conditions:
- Hyperemesis: a rare condition that leads to repeated and severe vomiting, it is associated with daily use of cannabis.
- Cannabis use disorder: a diagnosis given for problematic marijuana consumption.
- Schizophrenia/psychosis: schizophrenia is a rare, chronic brain disorder that includes delusions, hallucinations, disorganized speech and thoughts. Psychosis is but one symptom of schizophrenia that affects how the brain processes information. Early and excessive cannabis use can express symptoms of schizophrenia.
- Abuse of other substances (which Rae emphasizes is correlation and not the gateway theory that cannabis causes other drug abuse).
You may have heard the quote, “Physician, heal thyself,” and some hold that all cannabis use is ultimately medicinal, whether intentional or not. However, in some instances, heavy cannabis consumption could make some aspects of our health worse. “There is the possibility that daily consumption could worsen depression and interfere with both male and female reproduction,” Rae added. “But the data is fuzzy and more research is needed.”
Building THC tolerance and the endocannabinoid system
A fact that needs no explanation to consumers is that regular cannabis consumption inevitably leads to tolerance. During weed consumption, THC attaches to CB1 receptors, located throughout the body as part of the endocannabinoid system, a physiological process that helps the body create and maintain bodily harmony. When THC locks into the CB1 receptor, we not only get the feeling of being “high,” but other systems are modulated, including sleep, pain, and appetite.
But when THC is regularly consumed or for prolonged periods of time, the sensitivity of the CB1 receptor becomes reduced, which leads to reduced effects. How long it takes for tolerance to set in depends on a few factors, including how often you consume, the level of THC you're consuming, and your own personal biology.
“Tolerance means that you need more and more to achieve the desired effect,” Rae explained. “This can get pretty ugly, where folks can no longer get high from flower, and they can only feel something if they use high-dose edibles or dabs. Increased frequency and high doses of THC are also associated with all the potential risks mentioned earlier.”
Developing cannabis tolerance can also be expensive. Once you've developed the tolerance, in order to meet the same desired effect, you'll have to do one of two things: 1) spend more money to consume more frequently, or 2) consume higher potency THC products, which can reach $75 or more for an eighth.
To avoid tolerance, Rae said consumers should take a “T-break,” a deliberate break from cannabis consumption to reset the body's tolerance to THC. “By taking regular tolerance breaks — at least 48 hours every 30 days — a person can keep their endocannabinoid system sensitive to THC,” she added. “Increasing doses aren't required to feel the effects of cannabis, avoiding dose escalation, and thereby avoiding risks and costs.”
Should you smoke weed every day? Probably not. Make sure you carve out time for a t-break to gain the most benefits both financially and for your good health.
Featured image by Gina Coleman/Weedmaps