People often think of marijuana as a “safe” drug that doesn’t carry any short- or long-term risks and won’t cause withdrawal symptoms. However, the truth is that even though marijuana is unlikely to cause fatal health problems, the drug can lead to withdrawal symptoms and create other health risks.

Can You Have Withdrawal From Weed?

Weed can cause dependence and withdrawal. Dependence occurs when a substance interacts with brain receptors and causes the brain to change its chemistry to adjust for the persistent presence of the substance. Tetrahydrocannabinol (THC), the active ingredient in marijuana, causes the brain to change the sensitivity of cannabinoid 1 receptors. These receptors develop decreased sensitivity when marijuana is used for prolonged amounts of time.

When marijuana use is stopped, the cannabinoid 1 receptors are still desensitized. In response to the drug’s absence, the brain begins adjusting the sensitivity of these receptors back to normal, which causes withdrawal symptoms to occur. Marijuana withdrawal starts when use is stopped, and it ends when the brain completes its readjustment to the absence of marijuana.

When Do Marijuana Withdrawal Symptoms Begin?

Marijuana withdrawal symptoms will normally begin 24 to 48 hours after stopping marijuana use. Marijuana withdrawal will not cause intense symptoms like alcohol or heroin withdrawal would, but the symptoms can still be very unpleasant and distracting. The timing of when marijuana withdrawal symptoms begin may vary based on how much marijuana is normally used, how frequently it is used and other factors specific to the person using it.

Timeline for Marijuana Withdrawal 

There are three important stages in the timeline of withdrawing from marijuana. These include:

  • Onset of symptoms: Marijuana withdrawal symptoms typically start 24 to 48 hours after stopping use. Symptoms will initially be mild but can increase in intensity. Marijuana withdrawal symptoms can include irritability, insomnia, anorexia, restlessness, stomach pains and headaches.
  • Peak of symptoms: Most marijuana withdrawal symptoms will peak within two to six days. The peak is the worst part of any type of withdrawal, but symptoms progressively improve after the peak is reached.
  • Resolution of symptoms: Marijuana withdrawal symptoms tend to last about three weeks, and most symptoms will be gone after this point. While some residual cravings may still be present, it is unlikely that withdrawal symptoms will continue past three weeks.

THC Withdrawal Duration 

Everyone’s experience with marijuana withdrawal will differ. However, the brain receptors that are altered by THC will readjust to marijuana’s absence within about three weeks. Once the receptors in the brain have readjusted, withdrawal is considered to be over from a medical standpoint. 

There may be some residual psychological symptoms that last much longer than three weeks, such as cravings or a depressed mood. These are not related to changes in brain chemistry; rather, they are related to the absence of a coping mechanism that was used to face life stressors.

Factors Affecting The Length of Marijuana Withdrawal 

The marijuana withdrawal timeline varies for everyone and depends on several different factors. Some of the factors affecting the length of marijuana withdrawal can include:

  • Amount of marijuana used
  • Frequency of marijuana use
  • Gender
  • Co-occurring mental health conditions like anxiety or depression
  • Environmental factors
  • Genetics
  • Use of other substances

Get Help for Marijuana Addiction in Orlando, FL

If you or someone you love is struggling with marijuana addiction and concerned about the potential of experiencing withdrawal symptoms, Orlando Recovery Center can help. Our state-of-the-art treatment center provides professional medical detox and rehab services tailored to the needs of each individual we work with.

Our understanding team members are here to discuss your different options and help you understand how to achieve full recovery from marijuana addiction. Contact us today to speak with a representative and learn more about treatment programs that can work well for your situation. 

Editor – Jonathan Strum
Jonathan Strum graduated from the University of Nebraska Omaha with a Bachelor's in Communication in 2017 and has been writing professionally ever since. Read more
Medically Reviewed By – Benjamin Caleb Williams, RN
Benjamin Caleb Williams is a board-certified Emergency Nurse with several years of clinical experience, including supervisory roles within the ICU and ER settings. Read more

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Bonnet, Udo; Preuss, Ulrich W. “The cannabis withdrawal syndrome: current insights.” Substance Abuse and Rehabilitation, April 27, 2017. Accessed April 25, 2022.

Connor, Jason P.; Stjepanović, Daniel; et al. “Clinical management of cannabis withdrawal.” Addiction, November 17, 2021. Accessed April 25, 2022.

Grinspoon, Peter. “If cannabis becomes a problem: How to manage withdrawal.” Harvard Health Publishing, May 26, 2020. Accessed April 25, 2022.

GoodTherapy. “Coping Mechanisms.” September 26, 2018. Accessed April 25, 2022.

U.S. National Library of Medicine. “Marijuana.” MedlinePlus, April 21, 2022. Accessed April 25, 2022.

Medical Disclaimer

The Recovery Village aims to improve the quality of life for people struggling with a substance use or mental health disorder with fact-based content about the nature of behavioral health conditions, treatment options and their related outcomes. We publish material that is researched, cited, edited and reviewed by licensed medical professionals. The information we provide is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. It should not be used in place of the advice of your physician or other qualified healthcare provider.