For years, recreational cannabis users faced three scenarios: not high, high and too high. We dosed by judging the intensity of our coughs and carefully cutting squares of baked goods that still managed to leave us paralyzed on the couch. We didn’t dose, we merely crossed our fingers. And our aim was usually to get high.
Times and technology have changed. Not only can we calibrate the perfect experience with advanced concentrates and devices, we can even microdose below the psychoactive threshold, pursuing wellness without the high. This subtle, even mundane new ability to consume cannabis without the high represents a breakthrough in how we pursue wellness.
A brief, but blunt caveat: I believe that adult use of cannabis is a great source of pleasure and wellness. Whether you just want to kickback and enjoy music or time with friends -- I firmly support that right. And besides, we shouldn’t forget that there is wellness in joy, laughter and exploring our senses. But here, I want to explore a more functional side of cannabis: microdosing.
Microdosed cannabis is emerging as a trend as people realize they can improve their quality of life without unwanted side effects. Most commonly, microdosing allows users to experience decreased anxiety and stress during the day and improved sleep in the evenings. Such tiny doses allow them to “take the edge off” and improve their moods without impairment.
In a similar vein, many users find that microdosed cannabis is a perfect complement for certain parts of the workday, with boosted productivity, enhanced focus and creativity. Intriguingly (and maybe somewhat obviously), some even find the nature of work more interesting and engaging.
But why microdosing and not just the usual methods? The answer is the biphasic nature of cannabis. A compound like THC may offer relief at a small dose (like reduced anxiety or increased sociability), while amplifying it at a high dose (paranoia and fear). The intuition that the effects of cannabis increase with the dosage is wrong. Some effects exist only at low doses, some effects exist only at high doses. The key is that the effective dose for many of these benefits is below the psychoactive threshold.
Evidence for the biphasic effect go beyond the anecdotal. Clinical double blind studies on the biphasic effect of cannabinoids for pain management point to the greatest pain reduction for cancer patients given the lowest dosage of cannabinoids and actual pain increases experienced by some patients at the highest dosage. That is, not only did the cannabinoids fail to relieve pain, they actually increased it. Dosage matters.
With microdosing, cannabis will occupy a unique space in our collective search for wellness -- a compound that spans our penchant to medicate, self-medicate and meditate. For the same effects, some prefer Xanax, while others sip chamomile and others spend 10 minutes in a quiet space meditating. Yet on this spectrum from benzos to herbal tea, there is nothing like cannabis -- a compound that already occupies the full range from FDA-approved drugs to tinctures to CBD lip gloss.
By enabling cannabis to be distilled to the desired effects, microdosing takes one of our most vilified (and cherished) plants and opens up new avenues for exploration and self-medication. While some view cannabis as a new product within the wellness spectrum, I’m willing to bet that the marriage of technology and infinite variations of cannabinoid ratios and strains will create an entirely new category of wellness
What does this mean for you? Most of us could use a little less stress and a little more sleep. A little more creativity and focus at work. If you’re curious about how cannabis can help, microdosing creates a safe space for you to explore.
I know it may sound wacky to pitch cannabis as the secret to increased wellness and productivity, but keep an open mind. Give it a try. Do some research. Consider vaping, which is less psychoactive than eating. Start low and slow.
Developing a cannabis habit might be just what the doctor ordered.