Dosing marijuana is hard. Even with legalization gaining traction across the U.S. and the multitude of cannabis brands and consumption options available, folks new to cannabis still struggle with finding how much cannabis—and what kind—is appropriate for them.
For now, the best we can tell cannabis consumers in their quest to find the perfect dose is to “start low and go slow.” Cannabis businesses and entrepreneurs are stepping up to the plate and giving consumers a wide array of options to solve their problems around figuring out the right amount when dosing.
The first attempt at a solution was the rise of microdosed cannabis products. Now, some businesses and organizations are adding science and technology to the mix, in hopes of improving dosing accuracy.
Other companies are helping consumers figure out not just how much cannabis they require, but also what type of cannabis products best suits their needs. From the tailored consumer highs touted by companies like Ebuu and AbsoluteXtracts, to the “layered” effects of Level Blends, consumers now have a few ways to tackle the cannabis dosing problem.
Microdosing was first associated with psychedelics like lysergic acid diethylamide (LSD) and psilocybin—the psychoactive component of magic mushrooms. Young professionals reported using small enough doses of these substances to elicit certain responses, like depression relief, without any larger hallucinogenic effects that could inhibit everyday activities.
This concept quickly gained in popularity in a cannabis space that was initially focused on products with high amounts of tetrahydrocannabinol (THC). Now, microdosing is all the rage with products like Kiva’s Petra Mints and Terra Bites, which come in at a manageable 2.5 mg of THC per mint and 5 mg of THC per bite.
Edible makers still have to address their own dosing problem: Multiple reports in U.S. states with recreational cannabis markets have found that the amount of THC on the package doesn’t necessarily correlate with how much of the molecule is in the edible itself.
Luckily, microdosing edibles aren’t your only options: Tinctures offer a more accurate way to dose and there are also inhalable alternatives. Low-THC prerolls like those sold by Garden Society are a burgeoning option. They allow newbies or those with a low THC tolerance to smoke flower with little fear that they’ll accidentally overdo it. And dosist vapor pens vibrate after 2.5 mg of THC has been inhaled, letting users know exactly how much they’ve had.
There are also a number of cannabis inhalers available that are designed to give metered doses. Israel-based Syqe Medical has managed to attract the attention of Teva Pharmaceuticals with a medical cannabis inhaler that delivers standardized doses of cannabis. The device is already in use in Rambam Hospital in Israel and has even undergone a small clinical trial to test its dosing accuracy.
If you’re having trouble keeping track of your cannabis consumption, never fear: There’s—unsurprisingly—an app for that. Releaf is a digital cannabis journal. Consumers note what they’ve taken, how much of it and how it made them feel. All of the data are recorded in the app, which creates reports you can share with your doctor or another appropriate caregiver.
Other brands like Resolve are also using technology to help customers find their perfect dose. The company’s “smart inhaler” pairs with an app where users input their pain levels. Based on this report, the app calculates an appropriate dose. The app then pings the user, asking them to record how they feel 10 minutes after consuming. By aggregating this data and offering a way to precisely consume cannabis, the consumer can have an easier time determining how much of Resolve’s product is needed for pain relief.
While some companies are focusing on helping consumers hone their dosing levels, other companies are “designing” cannabis effects to help consumers figure out what they should take. By controlling the amount of cannabinoids and terpenes in their product, companies aim to create predetermined effects that eliminate the uncertainty that sometimes happens when consuming cannabis—especially edibles.
In AbsoluteXtracts’ case, the company reconstructs strain profiles to give consumers effects they recognize from their favorite cannabis strains, like Jack Herer, Blue Dream and Sour Diesel. While dosist uses the same principle to elicit effects like bliss, relief, passion, calm, arouse and sleep.
Other companies, like Ebbu are taking this idea and attempting to apply it to the burgeoning cannabis beverage market. The company is collaborating with MillerCoors to develop a cannabis beer that mimics the effects of alcohol. The beer will even “hit” drinkers in the same amount of time it takes for an alcoholic beer to take effect.
Layering is a concept that experienced cannabis consumers have likely been doing for a long time, perhaps without even knowing it. Layering is mixing and matching various cannabis products to achieve a certain effect. According to HelloMD Co-founder Pamela Hadfield, layering can be done in two ways:
Level Blends has taken the idea of tailoring cannabis highs to the next, well, level. In addition to tailoring highs with products like Elevate, Soothe and Remedy, the company’s line of tablinguals are also designed so customers can mix and match different products to obtain the effect they’re looking for.
For example, if you’re looking to relax but still be engaged, you might combine Soothe with Elevate. The mixing and matching is up the individual consumer, but the company also provides an infographic to give folks an idea of how they might use their products in concert.
If you’re already an experienced cannabis consumer with a wide array of products at your disposal, layering with different consumption methods might help you achieve a desired effect. “If you have chronic pain, maybe start with your vape pen, then move on to your edible and then your topical,” suggests Pamela.
Even with the advent of new technologies in cannabis dosing, finding the right amount and the best consumption method still requires some experimentation. Hopefully, with some of the products and methods listed here, you’ll be on your way to finding your perfect dose. If all else fails, remember the basics: Start low, and go slow.
Photo credit: WeedPornDaily.com