Dosing Medical Marijuana
Cannabis is an unusual medication in many ways compared to typical pharmaceuticals. For one, there’s no known way to fatally overdose on it, which makes it relatively very safe. When you see your physician, they usually aren’t going to prescribe a specific dose. Unlike a typical pharmacy, every dispensary will carry different products with varying percentages of THC and CBD. Trying to get a consistent dose like with pharmaceutical medications can be a challenge.
No matter how complicated it may seem, it’s important to at least try to be consistent. Not only is it cost effective to use as little medicine as needed, it also helps avoid building up tolerance to the medication – eventually requiring higher and higher doses. Furthermore, cannabis can have a biphasic effect where at lower doses it can have one effect, but it provides the opposite at higher doses. For example, some people may find a low dose of sativa provides energy and focus, but at too high of a dose, it can make you feel lethargic.
Many patients prefer to smoke or vape cannabis either for the flavor or for the entourage effect from getting all the cannabinoids and terpenes in the plant. Unfortunately, it can be very difficult to calculate the exact amount of THC when using the inhaled route of administration. Whereas Maryland vape concentrates often show the percentage of THC, with buds it can be difficult to know the exact amount of THC in the portion of plant you are smoking.
Even if you do know the exact amount of THC in your inhalable medicine, it’s still hard to calculate exactly how much you are getting into your lungs. The amount of THC that is lost to smoke or side-steam varies based on what kind of instrument you are using and how experienced you are. Up to around half (but sometimes even less than one quarter) of the cannabinoids in the product will actually make it into your bloodstream and be available for use by your body.
The Measured Approach
Fortunately, consistent options do exist, and it is possible to purchase pills or transdermal patches if you want to get a consistent amount of THC. Another great option is to use tinctures. Tinctures are the liquid preparation of cannabis, with THC that is already activated and does not need to be heated. Using a pharmacy dropper, patients can easily measure out their desired dose of THC and/or CBD each time. By simply placing the drops of oil under the tongue, the medicine quickly absorbs through their mucous membranes for fast and precise administration.
Using tinctures also opens up the option of microdosing with a 4-5 mg dose of THC. Instead of getting a few big doses of cannabinoids throughout the day, some patients prefer to take a very small amount of THC at around two-hour intervals. By doing so, they’re able to keep a steady level of cannabinoids in their bloodstream at a dose that is so small, they don’t really feel psychoactive effects. It’s possible that this method also prolongs the time it takes to develop a tolerance to THC. Of course, adding in CBD is another great way to curb the psychoactive effects of THC.
Fit Your Dose To Your Genes
Due to their genetics, some people are very fast metabolizers of THC and may require much higher doses to get the same effect as other patients, which can be an expensive source of frustration. Other patients are poor metabolizers of THC and may find that even low doses (around 5 mg) are too much, and they need to use only slight amounts compared to others. It’s important to keep these possibilities in mind if you are finding it difficult to get your intended effect when using medical cannabis.
Ultimately, patients should start small and feel things out, especially if you are new to marijuana or are trying a new route of administration. If you are smoking or vaping, just take a draw for a few seconds, inhale deeply for around 2-3 seconds, then wait 10 minutes to see if that dose is sufficient for your symptoms. If not, repeat the process and keep working your way up until you find your baseline dose. The same principle applies to tinctures, sprays, pills, homemade edibles and any other route of administration.
Green Health Docs provides patients with guidance when it comes to using cannabis products and microdosing. We also broadcast our educational sessions on YouTube and Facebook. For more information or to learn how to become a legal medical marijuana patient, call or text us at 240-356-1000.