The Essential Guide To
Microdosing with Marijuana
It’s a memory many will remember.
There I was, a pot-naive teenager, sitting outdoors with a thick joint, left to me by a friend. Then, an hour or so later, after inhaling nearly half the joint, far too stoned because of the delayed onset of my THC high.
Such occurrences shouldn’t be cause for embarrassment as getting ‘too stoned’ is especially common for new cannabis smokers. Hell, an idiom has even been coined for this state of being: “Maureen Dowd-ed,” after the inexperienced columnist who polished off a complete cannabis edible, transforming into a paranoia-ridden paralysis on the floor of a Denver hotel room.
But contrary to the tedious “stoner” stereotype, cannabis users have continued to approach their drug use with an increasing sophistication, alongside the developments of other psychedelics.
Gone are the days I tell friends to wait until ‘later’ to indulge in a little cannabis toking. Now, with microdosing, I can use pot to dramatically enhance my day-to-day living.
1. What is Microdosing Marijuana?
Its introduction into the mainstream is traced back to only mid-2016, but regardless of its beginnings (which are likely to be earlier), microdosing marijuana makes so much sense to me.
A microdose is relative to the threshold dose of a psychedelic—that is, the lowest dose of the drug that creates a perceptible effect—and therefore it is below that threshold, resulting in a sub-perceptual effect that is subtle without markedly influencing your mood or mindset. For pot, it has been nicely described as the sensation of being on the verge of feeling high.
Following the indulgences of past eras, including the Second Wave, and, again, the trite “druggie” stereotype, who would’ve thought that the “less is more” mantra would also be applied to psychedelics?
But that is why it makes so much sense to me! One of the greatest frustrations of the prohibitionary legal framework that remains globally dominant is the absence of reliable dosage and ingredient information that is essential for the many who approach their drug use with purposeful intent.
There have been countless times I’ve wanted that sub-perceptual subtlety due to my given circumstances—and microdosing can now empower me to achieve this. Because you don’t need to navigate intense psychoactivity, including social anxiety and the common issue of lethargy, microdosers are readily going about their work days or looking after their kids.
One edibles manufacturer has described the effect of cannabis microdosing as “body functional and mind free,” where the beneficial effects emerge without the freakouts. As Mashable pointed out, microdosing is a “world away from garage bong passers.”
2. Getting Started
I’ve typically encounted 5 milligrams as the ideal starting point for microdosers, but as is always the case with drug use, variations abound: Weed investor Jeffrey Zucker recommended sub-5 mg doses to High Times, 10 mg has also been promoted as the “novice” dose, and one edibles producer has investigated the matter according to sex, stating that women only need 2-3 mg.
And as we all know, the variations don’t stop there. The individual-dependent nature of cannabis use means that body type, the day, mood, appetite, tolerance, and sleep habits are all considerations; that is, a trial-and-error process is usually required.
Most important, though: TAKE IT SLOW AND STEADY.
In terms of the contributions of medical professionals, they are proponents of lower doses for the attainment of better results due to the “bi-modal” nature of cannabis. That is, low doses deliver one effect, whereas the opposite effect is experienced at high doses.
Your three options for microdosing cannabis are Combustion, Vaporizing, and Ingestion:
While pipes or joints are likely to be the easiest ways for you to get started, combustion is actually the most expensive and least-clean method of use that provides the least dosage control. A mere toke can easily take someone beyond the sought-after microdose. Also, regarding economical concerns, you might be interested that one study found that 90% of combusted weed contained no cannabinoids or terpenes whatsoever.
But here at The Third Wave, we’re not here to control your smoking preferences at, so you will need some idea of how to get even a ballpark figure of the potency you’re dealing with. American THC levels actually exist within a very wide range from 3% to 30%, but the average is around 10%. So, to estimate the THC strength of plant material based on 1 gram, divide the THC percentage into 1000 to obtain the per/mg amount (1 g = 1000 mg).
An online Marijuana Dosage Calculator is actually available, but you need to enroll in a 10-minute “online dosing class” with its inventor Cheri Sicard to gain access. You’ll be glad to know Sicard does not charge for the class.
Vaporizing your weed is a decent option, as not only will you be able to avoid the harmful carcinogens, but it facilitates a precise microdose accuracy. Plus, read up on the various vaporization points for a greater control over your experience and less waste.
The dosage information provided by the edibles manufacturers allows for an easy and accurate process, but keep in mind that the effect comes on much slower so dose titration is more tricky. Titration is gradually adjusting the dose until the optimal dosage is reached.
Here are some resources on dosage recommendations:
Again, slow and steady is the key to the overall practice of microdosing. So, keeping in mind the sub-perceptual nature of microdosing, pay attention to the most subtle effects of your use irrespective of your chosen method, and then carefully adjust the subsequent doses (up or down) to settle into your optimal microdose.
Personally, ingestion, joints, and vaporizing are my preferred methods, as I have never been a fan of being overpowered into submission by the bong-hit. As time passes, though, ingestion is becoming the optimal method for me, as I appreciate more of a full-body effect and do not crave an instantaneous high like I did in my younger years (the dosage accuracy is now a welcome bonus!). But frustratingly, it won’t be my easy go-to until the global situation changes, leading to the wide availability of the legal edibles of legitimate businesses.
3. Benefits and Effects
Cannabis microdosing has crossed vocational and age divisions, with professionals using it on workdays for benefits like creativity and focus-enhancement, like the LSD microdosing that has arisen in Silicon Valley. Recently, a New York fashion publicist explained its benefits for socializing: “There’s only so much drinking people can do.”
The array of health issues that microdosing marijuana is proving beneficial for is somewhat startling: Users are addressing anxiety, chronic pain, stress, ADHD, inflammation, and indigestion, among others, while mood and emotional enhancements are frequently reported.
For me, the mood/emotional effects are the most vital, as the greater connections I feel between my altered mindset and my environment, including other people, provide me with creative inspiration, insights, and experiences that are often indelible. Setting is of course a critical influence with all psychedelics; I love how I can be fascinated in both rural and urban environments on cannabis. While the experience is similar for other psychedelics, I find that on LSD I need a break from metropolitan settings, for example, even if it just means immersing myself in a city park.
It’s not just your mood that microdosing cannabis could improve: a recent study in mice has found that frequent, low doses of THC (the main psychoactive molecule in cannabis) can reverse ageing-related memory loss in older mice. In other words, microdosing cannabis helped older mice feel young again! We still need to see how this translates to humans, but it’s possible that occasional cannabis microdoses could keep memory loss at bay.
4. Can I do this every day?
Unlike LSD and psilocybin mushrooms, cannabis does not produce tolerance, so daily microdosing is possible. Employment lawyers are currently working on workplace policies regarding marijuana, as professionals are finding themselves functional, focused, less anxious, and even more productive on a daily basis—a far cry from the couch-dwelling slacker image. The FBI, which admitted in 2014 that they could not hire the computer hackers they needed because of the widely prevalent cannabis use among the prospective employees, may need to reconsider three years on.
In the case of overindulgence, users will recover just fine after they awake from the prolonged sleep that is most likely to occur; capsules containing CBD, a cannabinoid that can lessen the anxiety that THC can cause, are even available as a “safety valve” for microdosers who’ve inadvertently taken too much THC.
Furthermore, in addition to the “slow and steady” advice, edibles should be eaten on a full stomach; it is best to avoid alcohol; and as with most of the medications you will take in your life: stay the hell away from heavy machinery (duh!). If the magnitude of microdosing still hasn’t hit you yet, during the final days before his death in 2008, psychedelic pioneer Albert Hofmann said that microdosing will become the most important area of research regarding the therapeutic applications of psychedelics. Yup, I was blown away when I read this too.
5. How Long Will the Effects Last?
This will depend on the method of delivery as well as your individual physiological attributes such as your Body Mass Index (BMI) and metabolism. Ingestion ensures the longest-lasting effect and a slow “coming on” (which can be up to two hours, but more commonly around the one hour).
Unlike the one-hour post-smoking peak of inhaled cannabis, the peak of ingested cannabis is typically less pronounced and the prolonged effect, which can be as long as 12 hours, can be sustained at a fairly constant magnitude due to the relatively slow absorption of the 11-hydroxy THC from the gastrointestinal tract. For example, a medicinal user in her 90s says she nibbles on her edible often over a two day period.
How many times can I microdose in a day?
Again, this depends on the individual. For a 30-something IT professional, who “pops multiple low-dose mints per day” for inflammation, indigestion, and stress and anxiety management, microdosing throughout the day is working fine: “I’m not digesting a crazy amount of marijuana and falling asleep at my desk … I’m active all day, functioning, and completing my tasks.”
Lethargy may also be the result of the delivery system, e.g., users unable to function properly after the overwhelming intensity of bong hits or junk-food binges, and an inability to manage the dosage with unregulated cannabis products. Regarding the latter matter, the proportions of the THC and CBD cannabinoids in your weed are going to make differences that have, for the most part, eluded the typical smokers the past. From the myriad cannabinoids in cannabis, these two are the ones you will want to know the most about, and when you do become familiar with the influences of each, your past smoking experiences will be seen in a new light–and your future practices will be accordingly shaped.
Even if you cannot know the cannabinoid levels in your product due to your geographical location, you will be able to evaluate your cannabis experience more accurately, rather than churning out the same-old vague comments: “Oh, I just smoked too much,” or “Smoking makes me tired.”
Users of reputable edibles and marijuana that is grown by expert growers who implement sophisticated cultivation techniques are now empowered by their ability to know precisely how much they are ingesting and the nature of the cannabinoid content in their marijuana to minimize/avoid unwanted side-effects like lethargy.
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