The world of cannabis dosing can be really confusing. Newcomers have no idea where to start and even the experienced cannabis consumer might very well be taking in more cannabis than their body actually needs.
I mean, what even constitutes a dose anyway? How do we factor in the natural variables that come with different strains and cannabinoid profiles? And how does THC tolerance play into all of this? Is it possible that many of us are in fact overdosing?
This is what I love about the concept of micro-dosing with cannabis. As a daily consumer of medical marijuana, it gets me asking important questions and thinking about my regimen in a whole new way.
Sure I enjoy the psychoactive experience but is my current level of dosage working for me – or against me? Can I address my medical needs with smaller amounts of cannabis? And if so, would I be even more productive? I know I would save more money!
What is micro-dosing?
At its most basic, micro-dosing involves ingesting a much smaller quantity of cannabis then you might expect. For example, if you’re smoking or vaping, maybe this would be a single puff. Or if you’re eating a cannabis-infused edible, you might shoot for half if not less than the recommended amount on the label.
The idea here is to metabolize such a small amount of cannabis that you notice hardly any side effects when medicating.
Depending on why you use cannabis, such a low-level dose may or may not address your needs. The only way to find out is to experiment.
For some of us, micro-dosing might require a lot of self-control at first, but physicians and patients alike have indeed claimed fewer side effects and better results with drastically lower doses of cannabis.
What are the physicians saying?
Dr. Dustin Sulak, medical director of Interg8 Health out of Maine, has found that many patients indeed achieve enhanced, more sustainable results with micro-dosing while others still find it better to consume higher doses (i.e. a whole joint).
“I discovered that most people have a certain threshold dosage of cannabis, below which they’ll actually experience a gradual increase in health benefits over time, and above which they’ll start building tolerance, experiencing diminishing benefits, and more side effects,” he told United Patients Grouplast March.
Meanwhile, Dr. Allan Frankel, who runs GreenBridge Medical Services out of Santa Monica, in that same article, revealed some interesting insights of his own. He talked about how he has seen cancer patients respond positively to significantly lower than recommended doses of Rick Simpson oil, whereas heavier doses seemed to make the situation worse.
But Dr. Frankel also points out that as of yet there is no exact science for cannabis and cancer treatments, which could really include a variety of strains and doses.
In other words, while it’s important to experiment with different doses and strains and methods of delivery, we still have a long way to go for doctors to learn how to reach repeatable standards. Not easy with whole-plant cannabis.
This is why it’s important, at this stage, to approach medical cannabis with an open mind and willingness to experiment.
Experimenting with Your Regimen
Experimenting with your cannabis regimen and finding what works for you and what doesn’t is a huge aspect of responsible and effective use.
My colleague Max Simon, CEO of Green Flower Media, is a good example of this. He’s been using cannabis for decades to treat a very intense case of ADHD.
Along the way he’s maintained a productive lifestyle and has constantly monitored the efficacy of his cannabis dosing.
“What I’ve realized about myself is that I am strongly affected by cannabis if I take too much,” he says. “Sure that can be an enjoyable psychoactive experience, but in terms of using it medicinally I realized that taking much smaller doses than anybody else talks about is more ideal for me.”
Max has found that just a few micro-hits from his vaporizer a couple times per day is more than enough to help him settle down and focus.
It can be tempting for Max to take a heavier dose, and like some people he can certainly work through intense psychoactive states with cannabis, but he also knows that’s not the optimal approach for his specific needs.
How do you find your optimal approach?
How to establish a regimen is one of the biggest questions I hear from people. Again, it’s confusing, especially for people who are slightly intimidated or unsure about cannabis.
Here are a few specifics to consider if you want to give micro-dosing a try or want to stay on top of your regimen generally.
#1) Start small.
If you happen to enjoy certain side effects of cannabis, it is quite easy to consume more than you actually need. If a little bit feels good, why not a little bit more, right?
But what if you can get by on less? What if less is actually better for you and your health in the long run?
Remember with micro-dosing the purpose is not to get “stoned.” You want to give your body just enough cannabis to work with, but not enough to saturate those cannabinoid receptors.
Plus, if you’re already dosing quite heavily, micro-dosing could prove to be an interesting contrast in your relationship with cannabis.
It might take a week or two to notice any measurable results, but try cutting your dosages drastically and see what happens.
#2) Experiment with different delivery systems.
Smoking, vaping, edibles – the three most popular methods of cannabis consumption – all have their respective advantages and disadvantages, and most people have a preference.
Whether you want to micro-dose or tinker with your regimen generally, it’s useful to have more than one option.
You might find that certain delivery systems work best for different needs or different times of the day.
With micro-dosing specifically, you might also experience completely new results with methods of delivery that had not worked so well for you in the past.
#3) Experiment with different strains and products.
This option is a lot more feasible if you live in an area with sensible cannabis regulations. A good dispensary, for instance, will have a wide variety of options – an almost mind-boggling range of different strains and concentrates.
If you want your regimen to be as optimal as possible, then over time you’ll want to experiment with these different options in addition to dosage levels.
You might consult with a budtender or spend some time on strain review sites like Leafly.com. But also be aware that any two people can react to a given strain in completely different ways. All the more reason to patiently experiment and scrutinize the results.
#4) Pay very close attention to any effects.
Staying on top of your cannabis regimen involves constant consideration of how the plant is affecting you.
You can keep track of things like appetite, energy levels, relationships, or work performance.
With cannabis, if something isn’t working quite right – you have countless options and combinations to try.
Some people even keep spreadsheets to record how they react to all the different strains and dosage levels.
#5) Be mindful about what works and what doesn’t.
If you enjoy your medicine, it’s easy to overdo it.
Cannabis has the potential to help with a lot of different things, physically, mentally, and spiritually. But if you take more than your body requires, it can have a negative effect on your life.
Because we all have different needs, what constitutes a regular dose for one person could typify substance abuse for the next.
If we want to use cannabis effectively, we have to exercise discipline and discernment.
Without that self-control, this plant might take from you more than it’ll give. So it goes with anything in life.
Will micro-dosing really help me?
We all have our different reactions and relationships with this plant. Some people cultivate incredibly complex regimens after becoming extra-familiar with how their body reacts and what they need, depending on the time of day and their specific intention.
Other people might approach the plant a little more haphazardly, smoking however much because they know it feels good.
In either case, you just might be a prime candidate for micro-dosing, even if you’re the type who has no trouble whatsoever managing intense, cannabis-induced psychoactive states.
Then again, you might in fact REQUIRE larger doses for your specific medical situation.
In the end, the only person who can decide this is you. This is a responsibility that lies with each individual patient, and it’s this same lack of standardization that keeps a lot of doctors from jumping on the medical cannabis bandwagon.
But even with standardization technologies on the cannabis horizon, perhaps the process of trial and error will always be a key part of finding your ideal regimen. This is the case with pretty much all medications – cannabis just happens to be more enjoyable.
Micro-dosing, however, is worth a shot. If it turns out to be advantageous given your situation, you’ll save money, you’ll save on overloading your endocannabinoid system, and there will be more medicine to go around for other patients.