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What is Cannabis Microdosing?
The dictionary states that microdosing is when you use an extremely small dose (a measured amount) of a medicine or drug to improve problem-solving abilities, generate new ideas, or alleviate physical conditions, such as migraines or chronic pain.
And that LSD microdosing trend we just spoke about got its start in the technology-driven Silicon Valley region of California. It’s the young professionals utilizing the drug that need an edge to help stay focused and keep the creativity flowing.
When you compare microdosing LSD to microdosing cannabis, the effects you feel may be different, but the process is identical. Most people that decide to microdose cannabis do so to reap the benefits it can offer, minus any of the intoxicating effects (AKA the “high”).
They’re able to open their minds and let inspiration flow without the anxiety, paranoia, and cloudiness that can come with normal cannabis use. This allows them to go about their day-to-day lives, getting things done all while maintaining their focus.
It’s also a great way for anyone who’s cannabis-curious and wants to get their feet wet without going overboard. Any cannabis enthusiast will tell you the best way to get accustomed to consuming flower is to start with small amounts and inhale slowly until you get the hang of things.
This obviously doesn’t apply to edibles, but we’ll get back to that later. And once you’ve mastered microdosing cannabis, you can graduate to “standard” consumption if you desire.
However, if microdosing is delivering the desired effects you’re looking for, then there’s no need to change things up. You can stick with your current smoking regimen and adjust the dosage accordingly later if necessary.
The Science Behind Microdosing
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Many cannabis users will tell you that the only way to increase cannabis’ effects is to increase the dosage. While they’re not completely wrong, recent studies show that this may not be the only way to achieve your desired results.
These studies state that smaller amounts of tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) are accessible to the endocannabinoid system. And when you microdose cannabis, you are taking advantage of its bimodal nature.
As a result, in large dosages, it has one effect, while at small doses; it has the opposite effect. This is ideal for anyone who deals with anxiety since it can help to suppress these feelings instead of increasing them as when you take a higher dose.
And this isn’t just some random ramblings found on the net. They found substantial pain relief when researchers gave patients 1 mg of THC as part of a 2020 study. Experts recommend utilizing the medical benefits of cannabis with the least amount possible.
It’s just another reason why it’s always best to start slow and low whenever consuming cannabis, or any mind-altering substance for that matter. Most cannabis microdosing experts will say a microdose of cannabis is 10mg of THC or less, depending on your tolerance.
Even though the typical range is between 1 mg and 10mg, you need to be mindful of the many facets that go into what is the right dose.
How Much is a Microdose of Cannabis?
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And just because 1 mg works for you, doesn’t mean that 1 mg will work for your friend. To give you an idea of how much that is, the average cannabis joint contains about 12mg of THC. But this all boils down to the potency of the cannabis strain you’re smoking.
Now, the average 10mg dose may be too much for those new to the cannabis scene. However, 10mg of THC for cannabis veterans may be the perfect starting point. And while weighing out your cannabis is a good way to control the amount, you can’t measure the potency.
So just because 2mg of THC from some Blue Dream was the ideal dosage doesn’t mean that 2mg of THC from some OG Kush will offer the same results. Simply put, you will experience more intense effects if the Blue Dream has a higher potency than the OG Kush.
And we know we keep repeating ourselves, but this is just another reason why you should always take things low and slow in the beginning.
How to Microdose Cannabis?
The whole point of microdosing cannabis is to benefit from the subtle effects of smaller amounts of THC. People typically gain increased focus and a decrease in anxiety, allowing them to function more efficiently in their day-to-day lives.
How they go about microdosing cannabis can differ from person to person. Frank may only need 2mg of THC, whereas Amy requires 10mg of the same cannabis strain to get to the same level of consciousness.
And we can give you a suggestion as to how much you should take, but that’s all it would be is a suggestion. To find your ideal microdose of THC, you’ll want to follow these basic steps:
Begin by refraining from consuming any cannabis for at least two days.
After your short (2–3-day) break, you’ll want to consume a very small amount of THC. We recommend you start with a single draw of vapor from your preferred vaporizer.
Wait 45 minutes after you’ve taken your hit and take note of how you feel.
If you don’t notice any change, take a second small draw, and repeat the process until you notice a difference (no matter how small) in how you feel.
When you notice a difference in how you feel, you’ve found your microdose starting point.
From here, simply make any necessary adjustments by changing the number of (small) vapor draws you take. Do this until you’ve reached the ideal range where you can achieve your desired effects.
Vaporizers, edibles, and a pipe, and bong in front of grunge background with text at the bottom.
Different Methods of Consuming
Just as there is more than one way to crack an egg, there’s more than one way to microdose cannabis. And which option you decide to go with can affect the experience you’ll have. We’ll discuss each option and what benefits each has to offer to help you decide which is best for you.
The most popular way to consume cannabis would have to be to smoke it (AKA combustion). Since it’s the most accessible option and the easiest way to get started, it’s no surprise it’s the go-to for many first-timers.
That doesn’t necessarily make it the optimal choice for microdosing cannabis. This is because of how difficult it can be to measure how much THC you ingest in a single hit. You also inhale tar and carcinogens when you combust cannabis, which doesn’t do you any favors health-wise.
Yet, some still think you can simply jump into a session, take a rip off the joint, wait and see if you feel the effects, and you’re good. While this may work for some, we don’t advise it. Specifically, since you won’t know how much THC is in the joint.
This will make it more difficult to figure out what size hit you should take. It’s much easier to use a hand pipe or water pipe because you can measure exactly how much you want to consume, which allows for more controlled sessions.
When you smoke cannabis, it’s important to note that you lose many of the plant’s active ingredients as well. There was even a study that found that 90% of combusted cannabis had zero terpenes or cannabinoids. So, you lose some of the benefits that come with cannabis consumption. Which completely defeats the purpose of microdosing in the first place.
The next cannabis microdosing option is vaporization. This is a far better alternative to smoking because you don’t inhale any of the harmful toxins and harshness.
Close-up of a bearded man hitting a portable cananbis vaporizer.
It’s unquestionably one of the most efficient ways to deliver a microdose of cannabis since there is no burning of cannabinoids along with no modifications made to the terpenes. You can easily customize your experience with how much material you want to consume, tailoring the dose to your exact needs.
The vaporizer high is also unique when compared to smoking, and it won’t hit you as hard as with combustion. With vaping, you also have options as to what you can consume, unlike smoking, where you’re limited to dry flower.
You have the luxury of vaping dry flower or concentrates, with the latter being the better choice since they are pre-dosed, whereas the THC content of flower can vary depending on where you get it from.
We have an article that discusses the benefits of using a dry herb vaporizer if you’d like a more in-depth breakdown. If you decide to go the flower vaping route, there are a few things you want to keep in mind.
There are a ton of different vaporizers out there with different ways to operate them, but most will at least feature multiple temperature settings for you to choose from. You’ll want to stick with the lower temperatures (350° F / 177° C and below) that will preserve the flavor, in addition to helping relieve your anxiety.
The mid-temperature range of 350° F / 177° C – 400° F / 204° C will increase the effects you feel with much more of a body high. And anything above 400° F / 204° C will significantly increase the body high, so you’ll want to steer clear.
These effects may not be as prominent when you microdose, but they’re still something to keep in mind. And, if you’d like an easy-to-use device, we recommend our portable dry flower vape, the Vexil. It’s an affordable vaporizer that is ideal for anyone looking to microdose cannabis.
We’ve come to the final option regarding microdosing cannabis: edibles, AKA ingestion. This is typically the easiest and most precise way to microdose cannabis. There are usually details on the packaging that denote how much the precisely measured doses are.
A close-up of a smiling woman eating a brownie
There are several options available, ranging from gummies and cookies to cakes and beverages. And when you stick with low-dosed edibles below 10mg, you can experiment and titrate (gradual dose adjustments) until you find your ideal dose.
The effects of microdosing edibles can last far longer than smoking or vaping since your stomach absorbs the dose and your liver metabolizes it. On that same note, it can take considerably longer (1-2 hours) than smoking or vaping for you to feel the effects.
Heck, it can even take longer sometimes. It all depends on the dosage, the THC percentage, and whether or not you have an empty stomach. This is where many people will run into issues. They don’t initially feel the effects, so they decide to take a little more.
A “high” you had no preparation for can be the result of overmedicating in this manner. And just as the vaping “high” is different from the smoking “high,” an edible high hits you much differently than the alternatives.
It may even sneak up on you out of nowhere, which is enough to considerably raise some people’s anxiety levels. But the primary issue with microdosing edibles is that, depending on where you’re located, they may be difficult to find.
There’s a good chance that there won’t be many, or any options available at all, even if you’re in a legal cannabis state. That’s why we recommend you go with an inexpensive vaporizer until smaller-dosed edibles become more readily available.
Microdosing Cannabis Benefits
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There are many reasons why people might want to microdose cannabis. For some, it could be that they have back pain, whereas someone else may want to lower their anxiety levels while at work. Then some people simply want to enjoy the benefits of cannabis minus the “high” feeling. In this section we’ll go over some of the more popular reasons why people decide to microdose cannabis.
Help with Chronic Pain
Touching upon the 2020 study we referenced in the science section, the research suggests that microdosing cannabis can help treat chronic pain with none of the psychoactive side effects that come with higher doses. The Israeli pharma-tech company Syqe Medical wanted to see if microdosing is actually a viable option for treatment.
They conducted a random, placebo-controlled, and double-blinded trial with 27 test subjects who dealt with some form of chronic pain. Over the course of three days, each subject inhaled either 500 mcg (0.5 mg) of THC, 1,000 mcg (1 mg) of THC, or a placebo.
There was a significant reduction of pain in the THC-dosed patients, which stayed steady for at least two hours, whereas there were no changes in the placebo-dosed patients. The one-milligram dose showed a considerable decrease in pain when compared to the placebo.
There was also a significant reduction in pain sensations with no signs of impairment for either active dose. And reports of a “high” feeling were much greater in subjects who took the 1,000-mcg dose than in those who took the 500-mcg dose.
It is worth noting that the group of subjects was fairly small, with the trial only examining the short-term effects of a single microdose of THC. So, although they were able to see positive short-term effects, the jury is still out on the safety and effectiveness of long-term cannabis microdosing.
Help with Anxiety
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Anyone who suffers from anxiety understands how terrible it can be to deal with on a daily basis. And depending on how you use cannabis, it can either greatly help or it can make things much worse. In larger amounts, cannabis can exacerbate the issue, making things much worse.
But when you take a much smaller dose (a microdose, as it were), it can all but eliminate your paranoia for the next few hours. Some of the reasons for heightened paranoia from too much cannabis can be the setting you’re in, the mindset you currently have, and the method of consumption.
This effect, where low and high doses produce opposite results, is what’s referred to as biphasic. Depending on your experience with cannabis, it can have an adverse effect when you microdose. A seasoned cannabis user may not feel anything when they take 10 mg.
And if you’re a daily user, you may have to ramp it up to 50 mg-100 mg to even notice a difference. Microdosing can be so effective that some have added it to their daily regimen and traded in their anti-anxiety drugs for this alternative solution.
Now, it probably doesn’t need repeating, but to reiterate our previous statements, when cannabis is utilized in this small-dosed manner, you won’t feel any of the psychoactive effects that come with consuming larger amounts.
Lack of a “High” Feeling
If we’re being completely honest, most of the people who use cannabis do so to get high. Which is perfectly acceptable if those are the results you’re looking for. But some prefer to reap the benefits of cannabis without that elevated level of highness.
That’s where microdosing comes into the picture. Especially if you’re someone who’s overly sensitive to THC and its effects. This is why you’ll hear about people microdosing regularly to assist them with daily activities.
While others will microdose before work to increase their focus or aid with anxiety before they go to a large gathering. When you consume cannabis in high doses, this can raise the chances of side effects such as raised anxiety levels, memory loss, and red eyes, just to name a few.
These people are able to go about their day much more focused and with less anxiety. All thanks to microdosing cannabis. And despite what some may try to get you to believe, there is no way you can overdose on cannabis. Sure, you can over consume which can lead to those side effects we just spoke about, but that’s the extent of what could happen.
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Should You Microdose Cannabis?
Now that you’re familiar with what microdosing cannabis is, how, and why you should microdose, you should have a pretty good idea if it’s the right fit for you or not. If you deal with pain, anxiety, or problems with sleep, microdosing cannabis could be the solution you’ve been searching for.
It’s a wonderful way for newbies to get acquainted with cannabis without any of the negative side effects. And a great way to test the waters of cannabis microdosing is with an entry-level, cost-efficient vaporizer that won’t let you down.