Determining proper dosing of cannabis can be a tricky task. Currently, there is no exact standard or all-encompassing guide to proper dosing as there are a variety of factors that must first be considered such as delivery method and tolerance. The biggest obstacle in establishing a dosing standard is the lack of potency testing.
In order to best utilize your cannabis, it’s important to understand which cannabinoids are suitable for your personal use. Potency testing is then critical in determining if your cannabis is efficient and effective. Currently, many manufacturers, growers, and retail shops aren’t required to test their products. As a result, many of their products don’t actually contain the amounts of THC or cannabinoids that they claim to have. So without precise testing, you’re likely to dose inconsistently.
With that said, cannabis has a wide margin of safety; consequently, there is very low risk of injury or death from an overdose. Cannabis is like many other drugs in that it maintains low toxicity and a high dosing ceiling. Clinicians, therefore, agree self-determined dosing is resoundingly safe and actually recommended.
Because doses will vary among consumers due to a difference in expectations, tolerance, and reactions toward side effects, the basic advice is to start low and go slow.
Smoking is the most expedient and popular delivery method. Smoking your marijuana will produce almost immediate effects and the dosage is easy to manage. A single intake of smoke is generally called a hit. A good system for determining your correct dosage is by starting with only 1-2 hits then waiting 5-15 minutes before taking another. By waiting in between hits, you’re giving the marijuana time to activate, allowing it a chance to kick in. If after 15 minutes you don’t feel the marijuana begin to take effect, take another couple hits and repeat the process if desired of needed.
While technically non-lethal, overdosing can still cause some pretty uncomfortable side-effects. By dosing low and slow, you can safely establish the potency of your cannabis and can then supplement as needed. Unless you have previously tested its potency prior to consumption, there’s no immediate way to determine how strong your cannabis is and the more likely you are to overdose. You can always smoke more but you can’t go back and smoke less.
The same guidelines apply when consuming cannabis-infused products, but with a few more precautions.
Even for smokers with a high tolerance for potent marijuana, the slow onset and extended duration of oral cannabis can be quite unexpected. Because digestive processes alter the metabolism of THC and slow the absorption of cannabinoids, you may not see the effects of your cannabis kick in until 2 hours after consumption. But though the reaction may be delayed, the after-effects have the potential to last for 12+ hours. For this reason, patience is key in preventing an accidental overdose.
Another consideration when experimenting with cannabis-infused products, THC is orally active in the range of only a few milligrams. Many manufacturers consider 6-10milligrams to be a single unit or dose of THC. Typically, cookies and brownies weigh around 10 grams each. So when dosing out an edible, drink, or tincture, you’ll want to calculate the number of cannabinoids in each product. For example, one 10 gram brownie would supply roughly 1000 doses.
Lastly, be prepared for a different type of high when using oral cannabis. The absorption of cannabinoids from orally ingesting cannabis differs from that of inhalation delivery. Once ingested, the cannabinoids have fewer membranes to pass through in the stomach. So if you’re a heavy smoker, your respiratory tract may have a high tolerance for cannabinoid absorption but not your digestive tract, which produces a different metabolite of THC in the liver. Consequently, the high you receive from cannabis-infused products may be much more intense.
Due to varying contexts, it’s nearly impossible to give a concrete number as a standard dose of any form of cannabis, regardless of delivery method. So as you attempt to determine a dosage suitable for you, try employing the L.E.S.S. method: start low, establish potency, go slow, and supplement as needed.