Article written by
Dipak HemrajHead of Research and Education
Content reviewed by
Dr. Lewis JasseyMedical Director - Pediatric Medicine
Table of contents
Microdosing tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) refers to taking low, sub-psychoactive doses of THC that still provide a therapeutic effect. Just as with all medications, you look for the minimum effective dose of cannabis for a therapeutic outcome with as few adverse side effects as possible.
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What Is Microdosing?
“Microdosing” is the practice of consuming very low doses of a substance (in this case, cannabis) to take advantage of its medical and therapeutic benefits but at the same time remain functional and not “high.” Microdosing is a term usually applied to psychedelics like magic (psilocybin) mushrooms but is commonly used for cannabis products and cannabinoid-based medications.
There could be several benefits to microdosing THC, including:
- Lower chances of an anxiety or panic attack.
- Lower chances of nausea or vomiting.
- Lower chances of a psychotic episode.
- Those who are sensitive to THC may still be able to benefit from its analgesic (pain-relieving) properties.
Medical Conditions That Respond to Microdosing
Cannabinoids like THC are biphasic, meaning that THC can have two very different effects at different dosages, and some conditions may respond particularly well to microdosing marijuana. In contrast, higher doses may have a neutral or negative impact.
Conditions that respond particularly well to microdosing include:
Microdosing can also provide long-term relief with little-to-no psychoactivity, making it particularly useful for those who need to stay alert throughout the day.
Drawbacks and Risks
Although going “low and slow” and taking your time with cannabis consumption or administration is ideal for reducing the chances of negative side effects, there may be times that microdosing may not be enough. For example, some people may need to take more than small doses of THC and build a tolerance to the psychoactive compound to beat chronic pain or the side effects of cancer and chemotherapy.
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How to Start Microdosing Cannabis
The usual starting dose for THC is 2.5 mg (or 2-3 mg), slowly increasing by 2.5 mg each time until therapeutic effects are felt. At 2.5 mg, the psychoactive effects of THC are hardly felt by most people. At 5 mg, the psychoactive effects of THC begin to be felt. At 7.5-10 mg THC, the effect of THC can be pretty psychoactive. At 12.5 mg or more, THC can be very psychoactive. Of course, this depends on the individual and tolerance levels, but the threshold for THC psychoactivity is 5 mg for many.
One of the easiest ways to start microdosing cannabis is to use a tincture. This is because cannabis tinctures have a graded dropper that allows you to measure the number of milliliters (ml) you take at any time. You are also given a total cannabinoid content and ratio, so you can calculate how much THC or any other cannabinoid there is in one milliliter of the tincture.
To give a practical example, if you have a 30 ml bottle of tincture containing 300 mg of THC, you just have to divide the cannabinoid content by the bottle’s volume (300/30). This means that there is 10 mg of THC in every ml of the tincture.
Microdosing raw flower is more complicated, as you can never be entirely sure that cannabinoid content is consistent across a natural, botanical substance. In general, 1 gram of cannabis flower contains 1,000 mg of cannabinoids. If a strain (cultivar) measures 20% THC, 20% of the 1,000 mg will be THC and 200 mg of THC in 1 gram of cannabis flower. If you use half a gram of a strain measuring 20% THC for a joint, you can assume it contains approximately 100 mg of THC. The cannabinoid content of concentrates can also be measured in the same way, as you are often given cannabinoid percentages on the packaging (assuming you are using tested concentrates).
If vaping or smoking does not provide the precise measurements you need for dosing, then an inhaler may be the easiest way to microdose. Inhalers can give an accurate, measured dose of cannabinoids upon every pump of the inhaling device.
As for edibles, many are split into pieces and given a measurement per piece so you can dose them slowly. However, as edibles can have inconsistent cannabinoid measurements across a product, it is possible to have one piece higher in cannabinoid content than another piece. This can make edibles difficult to microdose. However, microdosing is an ideal way to consume edibles as the effects can be powerful if larger doses are consumed.
Microdosing THC is now easier than ever, thanks to the range of products available on the market. Microdosing may also be the ideal way of dosing cannabis, as it can reduce the chances of an adverse effect and help people fully explore how various combinations of cannabinoids and medical marijuana might help them.
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