Everything you need to know about microdosing

As edibles become legal, more people are taking low doses of cannabis to get therapeutic benefits without pot’s harsher side effects

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Let’s face it: you’ve likely heard the term microdosing at least once since Canada legalized marijuana. But since December 2019, when the government finally allowed the sale of legally infused goods such as candies, chocolates, tea bags and drinks, use of the term has increased. If you’re a new cannabis user or just plain old canna-user, you’re likely left wondering what microdosing is and why you should care?

Well, we’re glad you asked.

What is microdosing?

As cannabis consumption becomes more mainstream, people are concerned about how its use may affect them. This is why microdosing has become popular. A microdose is when someone takes a low dose of cannabis – for the purpose of experiencing its therapeutic benefits – while avoiding some of the harsher effects pot has been known to have on one’s mood or mindset. For some, it’s about taking in all of THC’s medicinal benefits while avoiding the psychoactive effects like anxiety or euphoria, which can interfere with the demands of daily life.

“Microdosing is a great way to experiment with cannabis for new and old users,” says Lisa Campbell, CEO of Toronto-based Mercari Agency, noting that consumers may want to experience “the euphoric highs of cannabis while reducing the side effects of overconsumption including paranoia, dry mouth and tiredness.”

Some researchers have even theorized that microdosing can strengthen the body’s endocannabinoid function, which exists and is active in your body even if you don’t use cannabis.

How do I get started?

For a long time, people associated microdosing with hallucinogens like LSD, or in some cases alcohol. But now the definition and the stigma toward it have changed. Microdosing is being used to help medical cannabis patients reduce pain, promote sleep, improve mood, increase creativity and treat depression, stress and anxiety.

Since everyone’s body responds differently to cannabis, many industry experts recommend that people looking to microdose for the first time start off at 2.5 milligrams. If you’re a more experienced user, you could go anywhere from five milligrams up to 10 milligrams of THC. However, it is important to note that finding the optimal dose has a lot of different variables that can change over time. Another option is to have 2.5 mg of THC and 2.5 mg of CBD or what is commonly referred to as an equal parts CBD to THC (1:1) ratio. This can be highly effective for pain relief, and anxiety, and be a good starting point for users looking for the least impairment.

Toronto-based chef Charlotte Langley, who has created cannabis cuisine for Tokyo Smoke and byMinistry, explains that the most important thing you can do when you start your microdosing journey is to pay attention to what you are putting into your body and see how it reacts.

“Depending on the level of THC in the microdosed product, you will experience a few different outcomes,” she shares. For example, edibles, tinctures and controlled-dose vape pens are the easiest way to measure the amount of THC consumed. But even with a microdose of an edible or a gummy, depending on your endocannabinoid system, you may experience waves of light euphoria or moments of general calmness according to Langley. “Different fats and mediums dilute in our body differently based on how our liver and kidneys absorb products.”

It’s important to remember that no two highs will be similar and that even your own body (at some point) can build a tolerance.

Do strains or specific products matter?

Some specific strains and terpenes have indeed been linked to specific therapeutic benefits. However, Campbell explains, “most edibles are cannabis distillate and not cultivar specific” – so it really depends on the carrier oil. ‘This has a huge effect on potency, as does the particle size in the extraction. Nano emulsified cannabinoids tend to hit harder and faster, with shorter lasting effects.”

Other industry experts swear by using a high THC when vaping or consuming oils and tinctures of CBD to achieve the ultimate effects. Once again, it’s a very specific experience from one person to the next, but Campbell notes that “many cannabis scientists have debunked the paradigm of indica vs sativa, and there’s more awareness surrounding the entourage effect between terpenes and cannabinoids.”

Experienced users may reach a point where they have to increase their dosage and microdosing may not work like it once did. If a more experienced user is looking to test out edibles from Canada’s legal market, Campbell notes that carrier oil can have a huge effect on potency.

“I only feel the enhanced effects of edibles between 20-100 mg,” she says. “Whenever I’ve gone above 100 mg, it’s been a very strong experience.”

Okay, but does it actually work?

The short answer is yes. But of course – it’s a process. Langley has said she’s heard from people that microdosing is just a placebo effect or “all in your head,” but says “it’s a safe way for people to start paying attention to our bodies, and how we are really feeling.” Campbell notes that since edibles have been released on the market, the package limit is a true microdose, and it’s important that people start low and slow.

“You’d be surprised what you can get in a smaller dose especially with new extraction technology.”

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