Microdosing Marijuana Explained: What, How & Why
Estimated 11-minute read
You’ve probably heard the word “microdosing” paired up with hallucinogens like LSD, mushrooms and such. Did you know you can microdose weed too?
Trends come and go, and right now, there is a new one rising up to the surface: cannabis microdosing. As opposed to the regular practice, microdosing actually means consuming less cannabis so users can get the benefits of our favorite herb without feeling high or stoned.
In this guide we’ll talk about the how and why of cannabis microdosing, as well as answering frequently asked questions with previously researched medical benefits, case studies, and more.
The following information is provided by dispensaries such as Pure Oasis and Leafly, as well as web pages that provide medical research by cannabis experts. Without further ado, let’s dive right into the world of microdosing weed.
What Is Microdosing?
Understanding microdosing is simple: it means less drug consumption, as opposed to feeling the need to get stoned, high, or whatever you’d like to call it. Putting this into practice, well, that’s a whole other story.
According to Leafly, people who practice the art of microdosing weed take small amounts of cannabis in order to reap the medical benefits of THC. The key is to avoid cannabis's psychoactive effects so they don’t interfere with the demands of daily life, such as working, grocery shopping, taking your dog out for a walk, etc.
In cannabis, this practice is mostly performed by people who have physical and / or psychological conditions.
Can You Microdose Cannabis?
Leafly quotes Doctor Michelle Ross, founder of a non-profit organization that uses empirical medical research to find other cannabis-related treatments for their patients. This organization is called IMPACT.
“Most people don’t know about microdosing. They just blast their system with cannabis or high amounts of THC, and that is not always the best approach for whatever condition they have,” explains Dr. Ross.
Why Microdose Weed?
A brief explanation: The medical microdosing of cannabis is meant to treat physical and psychological conditions, like anxiety, depression, stress, pain, improve focus and promote sleep.
But besides treating physical effects from chronic pain like fibromyalgia, seizures and other conditions, researchers have found microdosing can help as treatment for degenerative diseases. There’s a really interesting case report that was published in 2022 regarding senile dementia, also known as alzheimer. This research lasted a total of 22 months and it provided evidence that cannabinoid microdosing could be effective as an Alzheimer’s disease treatment while preventing major side effects. Can you imagine that?
Additionally, some doctors believe that treating patients with small doses of cannabis can actually help a lot. “When you raise the dose sometimes you get diminished benefits, and sometimes you get the opposite of what you are looking for,” says Doctor Dustin Sulak to Leafly. He’s an osteopathic physician based in Maine who puts this theory into practice. In simple words: “while a little cannabis can help reduce anxiety, too much can actually cause it.”
With this information in mind it’s easier to take a look into the past and reflect. According to Pure Oasis, in the early days of cannabis it was all about making much stronger strains to keep up with the consumer’s demand. However, the modern tendency building up for years now tells us that consuming weed in this century is more about convenience and getting a functional high.
Now that THC, cannabis, and its derivatives have become a less stigmatized subject, more people are really curious about incorporating cannabis in their day-to-day lives, says Pure Oasis.
The legalization and decriminalization of cannabis has also led to open the conversation; people are being open about their experience with weed, and we’ve realized that not everyone can tolerate high doses of THC. According to multiple sources and collected data, some people may experience anxiety and panic attacks when taking too much THC. In contrast, research suggests that at lower doses, THC could have a much more therapeutic effect on patients, running a lower risk of side effects like paranoia, racing heartbeat, nausea and more.
How Is Microdosing Different Than Regular Dosing?
Verilife affirms that a standard dose of marijuana can range from 5 mg to 10 mg of THC; however, to regular consumers this could be a bit of a joke (we know you probably smoke more than that). It’s important to mention that the dose also depends on the type of cannabis product and level of tolerance of the person who’s consuming it.
Keeping the latter in mind, a micro dosage could really be anything from 1 mg to 5 mg, although experts such as Dr. Ross and Dr. Sulak believe that people who already consume cannabis should start their microdose at 2.5 mg. However, it totally depends on the consumer and whether they’re beginners or long term users.
How Do I Microdose?
In words of the expert on medical cannabis:
“The goal is to use the dose that gives the most minimal noticeable effect. You are not trying to get stoned, you are not trying to get total relief from symptoms–you are just trying to get a little something. And then once you get to that dose where you feel a little something, stay there for a few days and then you can start gradually increasing if needed. And that typically falls somewhere between one and three milligrams per dose,” says Dr. Sulak, Co-Founder and Medical Director of Healer, to Leafly.
For people who are using cannabis irregularly or for the first time, the medical advice from Dr. Sulak is one milligram of THC combined with one milligram of CBD, then gradually increasing the dosage while maintaining the 1:1 ratio. As it was previously mentioned, the goal is to present a minimal effect, so when you finally feel a little something, you should stay at that level for four days.
Pure Oasis recommends to track and record your cannabis consumption in a journal. You should write down what cannabis product you’re using; it could be an edible tincture, flower or vaping. Additionally you should write how much you took, then keep track of the effects you feel in order to look back at your report and reflect on the ideal amount versus when you may have taken a little bit too much.
In quick, simpler steps:
- Start your experiment between 1 and 2.5 milligrams of THC, then stick with that dosage for a few more days. Remember the 1:1 THC and CBD ratio, since it will help you feel less anxious.
- Gradually increase your dosage from there using 1:1 mg increments until you slightly start feeling the effects.
- Once you find something that works for you, stick with that dose for four days.
- If it still feels good after that period of time, you have found your ideal dosage. Congrats!
Here’s a more in depth article my friend Pipo wrote about how to microdose weed and check the THC dose that works best for you.
If I’m A Regular Consumer, Are There Any Microdosing Effects?
Yes! But first, a cleanse must be made.
Dr. Sulak recommends a complete 48 hour period of cannabis abstinence, since he believes it’s enough time to reset the endocannabinoid system. It sounds simple and the good news is that it actually is! In fact, a brain imaging study that was published back in 2017 tracked the number of cannabinoid receptors during a period of abstinence from any form of cannabis. The results? Well, even in heavy smokers and regular users, the receptors went back to their baseline level after two days.
So now that we’ve kind of explained the science behind it, what you should do after this neural cleansing is to gradually reintroduce cannabis in your body, kicking off with just one milligram and working your way up from there. Follow the quick, simpler steps mentioned in the question above!
What Is The Best Way To Microdose?
Verilife recommends starting the microdosing process with edibles, since it’s easier to dose an edible than a flower or a concentrate. However, other experts disagree.
For starters, Dr. Ross advises against the irregularity of edibles, since untested products of this type are unreliable in their ability to deliver a true low dose of THC. She presses on the fact that most edibles have high doses, so how are you going to cut a 100 mg brownie into 25 mg portions? How can you be sure they’re even? This surely presents a risk, especially for beginners.
Another option is smoking a joint or vaping. If you’d like to try that, Dr. Sulak recommends taking only one puff and waiting at least five minutes to feel the effects, then taking another one if you consider it necessary. It sounds kind of tricky, since you don’t exactly know how much you’re inhaling; plus, tracking it in milligrams could be difficult.
Here’s a list of different ways to microdose, as provided by Verilife. Again, it’s highly recommended to talk to an expert about this, and not just follow whatever the internet says. People react differently because of their constitution, metabolism and past experiences. Remember that what may work for someone could be disastrous for another person.
Ways to Microdose:
From teas, to sodas or seltzers, beverages have become very popular amongst consumers. These contain lower doses of THC, which makes them much easier to microdose. If this ain’t your first time on the rodeo, you could actually make your own concentrate and pour it in your (non alcoholic) drink; this will make your experiment much cheaper.
According to Verilife, low-dose edibles are becoming more and more popular, as more people are curious and getting into cannabis consumption. The only thing you should make sure of is the reliability of the cannabis dispensary, so make sure to carry out your research, ask as many questions as you can and discuss your options with the experts at the dispensary.
Single-Use Pipes, also known as One-Hitters
These are tiny tools that hold enough cannabis flower for a single inhale. As it was mentioned before, it could be a little bit messy or tricky to get the hang of it, so maybe don’t try it if you're new to weed.
Sublinguals, also known as Concentrates
Sublinguals are made of cannabis suspended in alcohol or another liquid and they’re designed to be absorbed under the tongue–they work much more quickly than edibles, for example. The downside is that concentrates could also be tricky for finding the right dose for you, so start with a few drops and take it very slowly.
Tablets or Capsules
Perhaps this is the most easier and discreet way to microdose, since cannabis in a tablet or capsule form tends to be more accurate than the previously suggested methods.
Remember to do your research, ask an expert and try things out wisely.
Can CBD Be Added To The Mix?
In fact, Dr. Sulak suggests that new cannabis consumers should start with a 1:1 ratio of THC and CBD, since it can be so much more beneficial.
“When we add CBD to THC we tend to get a wider therapeutic window, which means we are less likely to see side effects of THC and more likely to see benefits,” affirms Dr. Sulak.
How Do I Know if Microdosing is Right for Me?
The short answer: You will never know unless you try it.
That being said, if you’re not sure about trying it or just don’t have the time, place or resources to start your microdosing adventure, my advice is to look at other people’s experience on the subject.
Here’s an article about Charlotte Palermino, co-founder of Nice Paper and freelance beauty and food writer. She tried microdosing for a week while visiting Los Angeles while keeping track of her process throughout the week. She also draws some conclusions to her experiment, you may be very interested in seeing those!
And last but not least, you should always educate yourself about the subject, or even better, talk to an expert. I recommend you check out Healer, a digital, science-based center that promotes cannabis education, dosage programs and industry training.
“We need to change our relationship with cannabis from something that we use for recreation or to treat severe symptoms to something that we use to stay healthy, like we would a multivitamin.”
–Dr. Dustin Sulak, Co-Founder and Medical Director of Healer, an expert on medical cannabis.
DISCLAIMER: This is not medical advice. The information on this article is for informative and entertainment purposes only. Nothing here substitutes advice you can get from a medical doctor. If you have any question about medical marijuana use, you should talk to a licensed physician.
Author: Mary Jane
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