When I became reacquainted with cannabis last year, it seemed like a whole new world had emerged while I took time away from the plant. Not only did I discover cannabis strains I’d never heard of before, but I could also pick from a range of marijuana-infused edibles like breath mints, gourmet chocolates and even pre-packaged tea.
The packaging for these cannabis edibles—and other products like vape pens and concentrates—was beautiful and inviting. But I had no frame of reference when a product would say that it contained x-number of milligrams of tetrahydrocannabinol (THC). Was that a lot? Would I need to take several servings to feel anything? Should I only take part of a serving?
These dosage amounts meant absolutely nothing to me. Before, I never knew the amount of THC I was ingesting. I’d just take a puff from the pipe or joint until I got to where I wanted to go.
So, in this brave new cannabis world, how the heck was I supposed to know about dosages? What was my dosing sweet spot? How do other people go about finding their ideal cannabis dose?
I spoke to a few people at HelloMD, and here are seven tips and tricks we’ve all used to help us find our perfect cannabis dose.
Start low and go slow is a favorite saying of ours at HelloMD, but it really is a useful tip. When trying to decide how much cannabis is the right amount for you, you can always take more, but you can’t really take less.
One of our customer service specialists, Bart S., told me how he goes slow when trying out a new cannabis consumption method or marijuana strain. “I wait until I feel something, then I stop and take a break,” he says. “Then I say to myself, ‘Let me just sit here for a while until it sets in to see how I really feel.’”
And when you’re ready to take more cannabis after a period of waiting, it may not always be wise to take another full dose. HelloMD’s Office Manager Melissa N. reminded me that when you feel you need more cannabis to get the effects you want, you don’t always have to take another complete dose.
“When you’re ready to move up, start with a little bit more, but not a full dose,” Melissa says. “And then just add a little bit more each time. You don’t have to double or triple your marijuana dose automatically.”
The technique that Melissa is talking about is called titrating. Scientists use it in the lab to slowly add one substance to another to accurately analyze the concentration levels and their reactions to each other. It’s a handy way to find out how your body reacts to cannabis a little bit at a time.
Melissa tells a story that I’m sure many of us can relate to: “The first time I ever took a cannabis edible, it was a pop tart that was five doses of 15 mg each. I ate some and at first, I didn't feel anything—but I didn’t read the package. So, about an hour later I ate the rest of the pop tart, and then I still didn't feel anything. Four hours in, it hit me like a train. Since then, I always read the packaging directions of any cannabis product I take,” she laughs.
I bet when you take a medicine or supplement, you read the directions to make sure you’re taking the right amount. You should absolutely do this for cannabis and especially the psychoactive cannabinoid THC. With many of the delicious cannabis edibles on the market, it’s easy to ingest more cannabis than you want.
Danielle L., HelloMD’s health and wellness writer, also suggests looking at the cannabis product packaging and then starting with the smallest dose you can. “I’d go by what was on the box as a dose,” she says. “With edibles, I think the lowest dose you can get is around one to two milligrams, so I’d start with that if you’re not sure about your own personal dose.”
Taking the smallest amount possible may mean breaking a cannabis product down even further than a serving size. Remember, you can cut that marijuana cookie or chocolate into smaller pieces. Don’t be afraid to do that if you really want to start with as little cannabis as possible and work your way up.
Though other marijuana products may have directions on the packaging, cannabis edibles are the best example of products that will tell you how much THC there is per serving. For Melissa, this is the easiest way for her to make sure she’s consuming a level of cannabis she can track.
But Danielle says, vaping cannabis is an easier way to measure her dosing. “Smoking and vaping is so much easier for me to track my dosage,” she says, “because the effects hit you right away. You’ll know in a maximum of sometimes 15 minutes how you feel. For me, it's the easiest way to figure out dosing, because you know exactly what you're getting, and it won't last as long as an edible.”
RELATED: HOW TO FIND YOUR IDEAL CANNABIS DOSE
Paying close attention to how you feel after consuming marijuana is the only way to know if you need to increase or decrease your dose next time.
Ryan G., HelloMD’s customer service manager counsels people experimenting with marijuana dosing. “I would wait for a feeling in my head—you can feel that head change. I would add another 10 minutes and then see how you feel.”
Ryan admits it’s not always a straightforward process. “Sometimes it's hard to figure it all out, so you just sort of wait until you feel a little something different and pay attention to that feeling.”
Another foolproof way to review your marijuana doses and how you feel after taking them is with a cannabis journal. Especially if you end up taking too much THC, having a journal to look back on with all the important details will save you repeating an unpleasant experience in the future.
“I think one of the things when you're trying to find your ideal cannabis dose is that you're going to get too high at some point,” Danielle says. “It’s something that just happens; it’s part of using cannabis as a tool for health and wellness. Of course, there are microdosing products you can take to avoid taking too much, but inevitably you're going to mess up and be too high.”
Danielle’s advice? “Just make peace with that and enjoy it.”
As much as we’d like to be able to tell you to take a specific amount of marijuana to feel a certain way, that’s not how cannabis works. Everyone’s different and so finding your right marijuana dose means that this is a process of trial and error. There will probably be times that you take more cannabis than you feel comfortable with.
“Just remember,” says Bart, “that feeling you don’t like will go away soon.”
When trying to find your ideal marijuana dose, Melissa recommends you always do it somewhere you feel comfortable. “If you're experimenting with a new amount of cannabis, be with friends. Don't do it by yourself or be in an uncomfortable place. The last thing you want is to take too much cannabis, get paranoid and be alone,” she says.
Danielle also has some good advice about preparing yourself in the event that you consume too much cannabis: “Think about the things that calm you down or the things that you do to relax when you're not high,” she advises. “Do you watch Netflix? Can you take a bath? Know what to turn to for distraction and comfort. Have an idea of what will calm you down before you consume the cannabis.”
Another HelloMD customer service specialist, Veronica B., says, “I didn’t even know before I started working here that cannabidiol (CBD) counteracts the effects of THC. So now I tell cannabis newbies to always have some CBD on hand just in case they take too much THC. The CBD will help the psychoactivity lessen pretty rapidly.”
Danielle also recommends having some CBD handy for that inevitable time you take too much marijuana. “I think it's useful to have a CBD tincture on hand just because I find that if I'm too high, a CBD tincture really helps to even things out.”
Finding the perfect marijuana dose for you will be a personal journey of trial and error. But there are ways to make sure that journey is informative and fun. Let us know in the comments below how you went about finding your ideal marijuana dose.
Photo credit: WeedPornDaily
If you’re new to cannabis and want to learn more, take a look at our Cannabis 101 index of articles. HelloMD can help you get your medical marijuana recommendation; it's easy, private and 100% online.