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Microdosing Cannabis

While many consumers seek primarily high THC or CBD strains, a trend towards consuming lower doses – often at amounts that do not produce an intoxicating “high” – has been growing steadily. In fact, the findings of a recent study suggest “that cannabis with low potency does not have any impact on creativity.”1 Sometimes, it would appear, less is more. Let’s take a deeper dive into what this means for your cannabis consumption habits.

What is microdosing?
Despite its rising popularity, a lot of people haven’t heard about microdosing with cannabis. What the term refers to is consuming small amounts of a cannabis product in order to experience less of the effects. The purpose of microdosing cannabis is typically not to feel intoxicated, but rather to consume as part of one’s daily routine. This might seem surprising, considering that this intoxication is what most people associate with cannabis. But there’s actually a few reasons to consider consuming lower amounts.

Microdosing is especially relevant to medical cannabis patients. For a lot of patients who wish to medicate throughout the day, consuming large amounts of cannabis is problematic. This is because the intoxicating effects of cannabis can interfere with everyday life if you consume more than you intended to or desired. While many consume for the exact purpose of these effects, for medical patients this can be difficult for a regular consumption routine.

Dose control, then, is crucial when it comes to microdosing. According to Health Canada, “doses of THC as low as 2.5-3mg of THC (and even lower) are associated with a therapeutic benefit and minimal psychoactivity.”

Microdosing cannabis: The future of medical use?
Products with low cannabinoid concentration are ideal for microdosing

While there is a substantial lack of empirical evidence when it comes to clinical research, some preliminary findings have shown that medical cannabis consumers may benefit from smaller doses. For example, a 2012 study “supports the efficacy and safety of nabiximols at […] lower-dose levels.”2 (The patients, who had advanced cancer, were given nabiximols – a medication made from cannabis extract – at low, medium, and high doses. Those who received the two lowest dosages showed the greatest reduction in pain.)

Another study from 2014 showed that low doses of Nabilone (a synthetic cannabinoid) “supports the promise […] as a safe, effective treatment for concurrent disorders in seriously mentally ill correctional populations.”3 Clinical research for cannabis microdosing remains in its early days, but studies like these are beginning to shine light on some very promising findings.

How do I microdose?
Like any other cannabis consumption routine, microdosing is highly personal. Our Endocannabinoid Systems (ECS) are all unique, and so are our reactions to cannabis. As such, there is no magic formulation. Particularly if you’re using cannabis for medical purposes, it will likely take some trial and error.

In terms of cannabis methods of consumption, there are numerous formats available to choose from. One common way is inhalation, either by smoking or vaporizing dried bud. This is an easy method with a fast onset of effects; however, it should be noted that it is often difficult to accurately control your dose through this method of consumption.

Ingestion, in some cases, can allow users to more closely monitor their dosage. For example, cannabis softgels deliver a precise and consistent dosage, and are available in low-THC and low-CBD formats. That being said, consumers should be very careful when microdosing with edibles. Always start with a very small amount, and wait 2 hours before consuming more. If you’re planning to microdose with cannabis products that you’ve cooked or baked yourself, please use caution as the effects will be felt for significantly longer compared to smoking or vaping.

What about CBD?
Cannabis Microdosing for medical purposes

Although microdosing generally refers to THC consumption, it can also apply to CBD and other cannabinoids. Particularly for medical cannabis patients, microdosing with cannabinoids can be preferential for some people. For those who are interested in microdosing cannabis for medical reasons, whether that’s with THC or CBD (or both), always refer to your healthcare practitioner for dosage and consumption method recommendations.

Canadian Cannabis Labels

Confused by Canadian cannabis labels? You’re not alone.

In fact, many consumers have no idea what the various numbers on Canadian cannabis labels mean – and we don’t blame them! Most folks are used to seeing THC displayed as a simple percentage, so when they receive a cannabis product labelled with four different figures (THC, total THC, CBD, and total CBD) and all kinds of numbers, it can seem a little daunting.

Of course, you can always ask your local budtender to help you decipher the various information displayed on labels, but we figured this guide to understanding Canadian cannabis labels might be helpful for reference – for those times when a budtender isn’t around.

Converting THC mg/g to Percent
Before we discuss how to read cannabis labels, it’s important to understand THC and CBD potency in terms of mg per gram.

As if things weren’t confusing enough already, new regulations introduced in October 2019 require Licensed Producers (LPs) to transition from displaying THC/CBD content on dried flower as percentages to mg per gram.

So, while you may have gotten used to seeing THC content displayed as “XX%”, you’ll notice that the next time you purchase dried bud the container likely displays THC in terms of mg per gram. Some containers will still show THC as a percentage, but those will eventually be phased out.

Luckily, converting THC/CBD content from mg/g to percentage is easier than you might think. There are two basic methods for this conversion. The first method is to divide the mg/g figure by 10, then add a percent sign at the end. If math isn’t your strong suit, simply move the decimal over one space to the left.

Smoking vs Edibles

Many consumers wonder about the effects of edibles vs. smoking. The effects of edibles are very different from those produced from inhalation, since edibles are processed by your body’s digestive system instead of the lungs . Rather than entering the bloodstream almost immediately, THC and other cannabinoids are slowly absorbed by the gastrointestinal (GI) tract. Keep reading to find out how the effects of edibles vs. smoking differ.

How long do edibles take to kick in?
If you’re wondering “How long do edibles take to kick in?”, you’re not alone. Many people who are not regular consumers of edibles are unsure about how long the effects of edibles take to kick in.

If you are used to smoking or vaping cannabis, you know that the onset of effects from inhalation is almost instantaneous. With THC or CBD edibles, however, it can take up to 2 or 3 hours for the full effects to be felt. For a new consumer, we suggest starting with a very small dose and waiting a full day to determine how it affects you.

How long do edibles last?
Answering the question “How long do edibles last?” is challenging because it can vary greatly.

Factors that affect how long the effects from edibles will last include recently consumed foods, the individual’s unique Endocannabinoid System (ECS), and the individual’s tolerance for cannabis edibles – a measure that increases with more frequent consumption.

Comparing the effects of edibles vs. smoking, edibles last much longer. While the effects of inhaled cannabis usually last only a couple of hours, edibles can last for 6-8 hours or longer.

Remember to never operate a vehicle within 24 hours of consuming an edible.

How long do edibles stay in your system?
While there is no definitive answer to this question, one study found that an individual with no THC in their system who eats a low-dose edible will have detectable amounts of THC in their system for up to 14 days.2 This figure could be much higher for a frequent consumer who eats more potent edibles.