Less is More: How to Microdose with Cannabis
Published on 8/1/19
As many regular consumers understand, weed can be a bit of a tricky thing sometimes, especially when it comes to dosing. Used in larger amounts, it can knock you flat on your back (in both good and bad ways), while in smaller amounts it can be used more functionally. For a lot of smokers, the low-tech nature of smoking weed can be a benefit - there is definitely something nice about the simplicity of a joint - but it can also be a drawback, since it can be hard to control your dose with much precision. For some people, hitting a joint or a bowl can feel like an all-or-nothing affair; either you're getting stoned, or you're not feeling it at all.
But with the advent of new tools and technologies like vaporizers and low-dose edibles, as well as new ways of infusing cannabis into everyday products, more and more people are beginning to explore the middle ground between stoned and stone sober. At its basic form, we're talking about combining the therapeutic effects of cannabis with functionality or in other words, microdosing weed.
What is microdosing with cannabis?
You may have heard about micro-dosing in the context of psilocybin mushrooms or LSD. Essentially, taking psychedelics in low enough doses so as not to trip but enough to deliver positive mental benefits. You can microdose with cannabis in much the same way, either by smoking, vaping or by using increasingly wide array of infused edible products that have the added benefit of keeping your microdosing on the sly.
The simplest way to explain what microdosing seeks to achieve is all about finding a balance between the positive effects of cannabis with the potentially negative effects of intoxication. The idea behind cannabis microdosing is that you are taking enough to improve your day and to bring about a sense of well-being but not enough to disrupt your ability to work, clean or go about your day.
Benefits and Risks of Microdosing Marijuana
Generally when you're talking about microdosing weed, you're concerned with balancing out the positive and therapeutic effects of THC with the impairment that it brings. While the non-intoxicating cannabinoid CBD has wider latitude, meaning you can take more of it without feeling high, THC is a bit trickier. Many people who microdose THC are doing so to get at the positive wellness effects of the intoxicating part of the plant: a clearer mind, an ability to think through problems a bit more creatively and THC's antidepressant effects.
There aren't many inherent risks to microdosing cannabis but there are potential pitfalls, most of them associated with your dose not being quite micro enough. While there isn't a great deal of research on the topic, studies have produced some promising results that support the idea of microdosing as a beneficial way to consume cannabis. Researchers at the University of Illinois studied the effects of microdosing and found that it could be beneficial in low doses, primarily for its stress-reducing qualities. However if someone took too much, it could be counterproductive, primarily because it can increase anxiety related to completing tasks, which are sometimes harder if you're a little bit too stoned.
How much is a microdose?
Strictly speaking, a microdose is different for everyone as tolerances vary. While one person may be able to ingest 10 mg of THC without feeling impaired or intoxicated, that same amount may get someone super stoned. One of the important things to remember if you're starting to microdose is either to start as low as you possibly can and work up. (Even better would be to test out your dose on a day where you don't have to go to work.) The study done at the University of Illinois used capsules with 7.5mg of THC as a "low dose" but that's not universal. As good starting point, try something in the range of 2.5 to 5 mg of THC.
How to microdose weed
Once you've decided that you want to try microdosing, the first question you need to answer is how you want to take your cannabis. You can microdose with a joint or bowl, with a vape or vape pen, with edibles or with a dab rig. The choice mostly depends on what you have access to, how long you want the effects to last and most importantly, what kind of effects you're after. (Note that an edible microdose will feel a bit different than a vaporizer, in the same way that edibles feel different than smoking a joint.) You should also think about when and where you want to microdose. For instance, a THC and CBD infused bag of tea will be easier to use if you're at work but a vaporizer used at home could offer you a bit more control.
Once you've decided on your chosen method and devices, the key is starting slow. Take one draw off your vaporizer or one drag of a joint and wait for a bit. Once you start to feel some of the positive effects you're after, you know you've reached what doctors call the 'minimum effective dose.' That's what you're aiming for, at least at first. Considering that the entire point is not to get too stoned, the other key to microdosing is knowing when to stop, especially when THC is involved.
Microdosing edibles can be a bit trickier, since edibles take a while to hit. Some cannabis producers sell products with only 2.5mg of THC in them, which is very approachable for most consumers. If you have access to these products, taking one and waiting for an hour or two would be a good start.
How long will my marijuana microdose last?
Once you've reached your minimum effective dose (or whatever dose you're aiming for), you'll want to leave your weed aside for a little while. Depending on your ingestion method, your microdose will last anywhere from about an hour (for vaporizers) to four or more (for edibles.) It's important to remember that just because you've stopped "feeling" the microdose, it doesn't necessarily mean it's done working. After all, the less perceptible effects - a better mood, a clearer mind, reduced stress - should persist a couple hours after any slight buzz wears off.
Many people who microdose do so a few times throughout the day. A dose in the morning with your coffee, a top-up in the early afternoon and maybe one at the end of the day is a pretty normal schedule. There's no strict timetable that you should follow, since it all depends on your own body and what your day entails.
Enjoying the benefits microdosing
One final thing to remember about microdosing with weed, especially if you're microdosing THC alongside CBD, is that you have to reframe your idea of what your goals are. THC-induced euphoria, the kind you get by smoking a larger amount, isn't the goal here. To really tell whether microdosing weed is working for you, you have to focus on how the everyday parts of your life feel. Whether you're more productive, less anxious or more personable are more important questions to ask yourself versus if you're feeling 'high.' Remember, microdosing is all about wellness without impairment. Done right and it can make sure you're functioning at the top of your game - however you decide to define that.
Have you ever tried microdosing cannabis? If so, does it work for you? Let us know below!