MICRODOSING | With cannabis therapies, less can really be more

Sandy Cohen
Sep 13, 2018

When it comes to cannabis, “microdosing” may be a misnomer.

The term was coined for the practice of taking psychedelic drugs, like psilocybin mushrooms or LSD, in doses so tiny as to be barely perceptible: no mind-altering hallucinations, just a boost in focus and creativity.

But now, more cannabis consumers – new ones in particular – are experimenting with low-dose cannabis as a wellness tool or alternative to pharmaceuticals. For them, a “microdose” may really just be the right dose.

[SEE ALSO: KIVA | How to make a top cannabis edibles brand? It’s all about trust]

“With medical cannabis, it’s not about more is better. It’s actually about less is better,” says Dr. Jamie Corroon, founder of the Center for Medical Cannabis Education in San Diego. “Relief without impairment – that’s where microdosing is the most useful. As a doctor, my objective is to recommend the minimally effective dose.”

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Research shows that as little as 2 mg of THC can help reduce pain and anxiety. And a University of Illinois at Chicago study found that up to 7.5 mg of THC induced mild mood and well-being improvements – but 12.5 mg just made people more anxious.

That’s why the right dose is so critical.

The psychoactive components of cannabis affect everyone differently. Some might tolerate up to 10 mg without feeling impaired; others could get paranoid from 3 mg. The good news is that finding products that deliver precisely measured
doses has never been easier.

[SEE ALSO: Now you have the power of precise vapor dose control]

Vapes and edibles allow for the most reliable microdosing, says Eaze Chief Cannabis Evangelist Jason Pinsky – who also prefers the term “low-dose” to describe the amount of cannabis he considers essential as a daily supplement.

“The chemicals that exist in the plant also exist naturally in our bodies,” Pinsky says. “I have referred to cannabis as the new Vitamin C, because that’s really the way it should be thought about.”

Jason Pinsky at Eaze HQ in San Francisco [photo courtesy Jason Pinsky]
The phytocannabinoids in the plant interact with the body’s own endocannabinoid system, a homeostatic balancing network that regulates dozens of body functions including digestion, nerve function, and pain signaling. It’s generally accepted that for severe or acute pain, stronger is better; but many people report relief with low doses and non-psychoactive CBD alone.

A former chronic pain patient, Pinsky says he weaned himself from the opiates he took for more than a decade by using a combination of cannabis products, including CBD capsules, transdermal patches and vaping concentrates.

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“The best thing for titrating one’s dose is vaporizers, because it’s immediate onset,” Pinsky says. “Unike other delivery forms, which take longer for you to take the effect, you can know when to stop, and it exits your body faster if you do overdo it.”

But edibles are perfect for long-term low-doses.

For longer lasting effects, such as for sleep, all-day pain relief or anxiety, a tiny amount of edibles, even if not perceptible in the form of a buzz, are a great way to experiment with low-dose cannabis.

“Microdosing and controllability, those two things go hand-in-hand,” edibles maker Kiva co-founder Kristi Knoblich Palmer tells Eaze. “We want to be able to give the consumer the ability to get it just right, especially the new consumers coming into the market.”

Now that cannabis is legal for adult recreational use, companies are making products aimed at new consumers looking to experiment.

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“People can always eat more of our Terra Bites or Petra Mints if they’re looking to get a heavy effect,” Palmer says. “But the ability to dial down your dose and get just what you’re looking for, precision is key. With the mints for example, each one goes up to 2.5 milligrams.”

Starting slow is recommended – 3 to 10 mg of THC depending on experience – as is choosing products from reputable manufacturers. Precision measurement of THC is paramount when it comes to microdosing, as even small fluctuations could have a big impact on a user’s experience.

Choose wisely. Choose quality.

That means brands that take testing and dosage protocols seriously, like dosist, maker of precisely timed all-in-one vaporizers that are designed for exacting control.

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Corroon, a naturopathic doctor certified by the Society of Cannabis Clinicians and the American Academy of Cannabinoid Medicine, recommends that people interested in therapeutic cannabis see a trained physician to determine the best dose and delivery method. Though cannabis is very safe, the user still risks having a bad experience if they take too much.

At his practice, he recommends cannabis for patients dealing with chronic pain, migraines, anxietynausea, insomnia and post-traumatic stress disorder, among other conditions.

“The only way to approach it is to look at the individual,” Corroon says.

[Product(s) named in this story are registered under California license CDPH-T00000168 (dosist) and CDPH-T00000118 (Kiva)]

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