Cannabis can seem overwhelming when you’re first introduced to the plant however there’s a few things to know that can help you get get the dose right and figure out which method works best for you.
Let’s look at the different methods for consuming cannabis and dosing for each.
There are 3 different methods for experiencing cannabis:
There are 2 ways to inhale cannabis – smoking and vaporizing.
Smoking cannabis doesn’t have any way to adjust for dose, other than buying low THC strains and smoking cannabis can be quite strong for some people. Smoke contains toxins that aren’t good for your lungs and I don’t recommend this method.
Vaporizing cannabis means the cannabis is heated in a device that never reaches combustion, so you inhale vapor rather than smoke. This method is recommended by physicians over smoking because it contains less carcinogens such as tar.
With vaporizing you can choose a dry herb vaporizer where you can adjust the temperature to release the desired terpenes and cannabinoids, or you can vaporize concentrates in a device like a vape pen. Vaporizing concentrates is strong and not recommended for beginners unless you choose a low dose vape pen that’s low in THC and high in CBD such as the Dosist brand.
Dosing for inhaling dry herb:
To start you want to find a strain that’s low in THC and high in CBD.
Low THC means 10% or less
High CBD means 5% or greater.
A good example of this is Mango Haze by Color Cannabis. This sativa dominant hybrid has between 4% to 11% THC and 6% to 16% CBD.
There’s more to consider than just the percentage of THC to CBD, terpenes also play a crucial role in effect. If you can find the terpene breakdown that can be helpful for knowing how a particular strain might feel.
Mango Haze by Color cannabis has these dominant terpenes: Beta-caryophyllene (can help with anxiety and pain), P-cymene (anxiety and pain), Beta-pinene (stimulating). By looking at the terpene profile you can see that this strain may help you feel calm and reduce pain in your body, however with Pinene adding alertness, this one may be good for the daytime when you need to get things done.
Dosing for inhaling concentrates
Concentrates in general are quite strong and not a good place to start for beginners. However vape pens- which use an oil, can come in lighter doses for a less intense feel.
Many concentrates use an extraction method that strips away the terpenes and other plant properties however some brands will add botanical terpenes back in. So terpenes may or may not be present when you by a vape pen, if they are they’ll often advertise it as broad spectrum, meaning all of the plant properties are intact and none have been removed.
When buying a vape pen look for products that have CBD and low THC. Low THC in a pen under 30% THC. Sometimes they have the amounts in MG. Dosist pens buzz when you’ve inhaled 2.5mg of THC so you can control the amount you inhale. They have low dose options which is why I recommend this brand for beginners.
You can buy a variety of edibles with many low dose options. Edibles come in food products, beverages, oils (sold in capsules or tinctures), strips that dissolve and sprays.
There are 2 types of edibles you can buy:
- Long lasting edibles – onset of up to 2 hours and a duration of 4 – 6 hours (or more)
- Fast acting edibles – onset of around 15 minutes and a duration of an hour (or more)
Most of the edibles you buy are long lasting unless they say otherwise however all beverages are fast-acting as are dissolvable strips. Any cannabis edible that is water soluble will be fast-acting.
Fast-acting edibles can vary in onset and duration however on average it’s similar to inhalation methods with a quicker onset and shorter duration. That’s because fast-acting edibles bypass the liver and go straight to the blood stream. This means they can feel lighter than long lasting edibles.
However for me fast-acting edibles peak after an hour and and wear off by 90 minutes and my dose is the same. Everyone will have a different reaction with fast-acting edibles.
Long lasting edibles are processed by the liver creating 11-hydroxy-THC which is potent and why edibles hit different than other methods. You need to be careful with dose when it comes to edibles as they are long lasting, and can make some people feel uncomfortable if too strong of a dose was ingested.
Related article: Fast-acting edibles reinvents your cannabis experience
Dosing for edibles
Whether you are buying fast-acting or long lasting edibles I recommend the same starter dose and that’s 2mg to 5mg.
If you’re prone to anxiety start with 2mg. If you feel nothing after a few hours you can take more but don’t increase your dose more than about 2mg to 5mg at a time. Edibles can take awhile to feel the full effect and may take a few tries to find the right dose.
Terpenes aren’t as important with edibles and you’ll likely have a hard time finding terpene information with edibles however some brands will have them, especially oils. You can visit the official website of the product to find out that information or ask the budtender if they have that information.
Related article: Why you should always take CBD with THC
Topical use for cannabis
Topicals are products that are applied to the skin, most topicals have no psychoactive effect however products like a transdermal patch, will.
A transdermal patch is worn on either your wrist or ankle and is absorbed into the blood stream in a controlled, time released microdose up to 72 hours. Once you remove the patch the effects will dissipate after 15 minutes.
Dosing for topicals
This varies depending on the product, with a transdermal patch you can wear a 20mg THC patch that will slowly release that dose over a long period of time, so it’s not the same as a 20mg edible which is a very high dose for most beginners.
With other topicals you generally want high doses of THC, especially CBD. However if you’re applying a face cream, where the skin is a bit thinner, you may want to be more cautious with THC as some can get absorbed into the bloodstream.
Topicals that are salves meant for arthritis pain, you generally want a higher dose. Bath products also need to have a high dose because it’s distributed in a large amount of water.
In general a high dose for topicals is anything over 50mg for THC and over 100mg for CBD. However I’ve tried 25mg THC topicals that work quite well such as intimacy products.
Knowing what cannabis products to buy when you’re first starting out
With any cannabis product (with the exception of some topicals) you want to start with a low dose, as the saying goes start low and go slow.
Look for products that have CBD, there’s several on the market to choose from. CBD helps to reduce the side effects of THC and THC helps to boost the effects of CBD, the two cannabinoids work wonderfully together.
Use a cannabis journal
One highly effective way to see what dose and method will work for you is to keep track in a journal. There’s journals on the market that help you keep track, the one I have is by Goldleaf and they have several different types to choose from. The Patients Journal is the one I recommend for tracking use.
This will help you see patterns over time, and will make buying cannabis products in the future much easier to do as you’ll have a better idea of what works for you and what doesn’t.
There’s no one size fits all approach for cannabis, something that feels great for me may feel awful for you, that’s why keeping track in a journal will guide you to finding your personalized cannabis experience.
Finding the right cannabis dose and method for you will require some patience and experimentation. Keep an open mind and make sure you’re trying cannabis during a time when you’re feeling at ease, like at home when you have some free time. Feeling secure and starting with a low dose will help to ensure you get the best experience.
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