The conventional wisdom is that the end of Prohibition in the 1930s is the blueprint for the legalization of cannabis now. We once drank in speakeasies, now we drink in bars. We once smoked joints at home with the curtains drawn, now we vape on front stoops. Getting high will become like being tipsy. The black market will simply become a white market and the roster of legal, recreational drugs will simply increase from one to two.
This conventional wisdom is logical and reasonable. But it is wrong. The future of cannabis doesn’t look like wine and spirits. Cannabis isn’t like alcohol. Cannabis is like coffee.
Cannabis will be a part of everyday life -- a common and routine presence. At work, at home, at play and at rest. Not just for unwinding at home after the big presentation, but at work before the big presentation. Not for the evening after the kids are finally down, but before sitting down for family dinner. Not just for fun occasionally, but for better living everyday.
What used to be a recreational drug is emerging as a complex compound with a long list of proven benefits for mind and body. Cannabis has a long history of relieving pain, stress and anxiety with studies showing significant reduction in the use of over-the-counter drugs and prescriptions, including opioids. Studies also link cannabis to enhanced creativity and divergent thinking, particularly originality. With 500+ distinct strains, the list of benefits continues to grow.
Many benefits have been known for millennia, while others are just emerging. So why now? The advent of cannabis dosage.
Cannabis has two properties that confer unique superpowers to dosing and micro-dosing. First, many of THC’s benefits are most potent below the psychoactive threshold -- at low dosages, you can reap all the benefits without ever getting ”stoned”. There is even evidence that certain benefits are available only within narrow therapeutic windows.
Second, cannabis has a biphasic effect. A compound with a biphasic effect can offer relief at a small dose (like reduced anxiety or increased sociability), while amplifying the opposite effect at a high dose (like paranoia and fear). Studies of cancer patients have shown that low dosages can provide pain relief while higher dosages can actually increase pain. Dosing is less about simply calibrating low-medium-high and more about hitting an exact range to optimize the effects.
Dosing offers empowerment without intoxication or fear. Dosing grants access to creativity and sleep, or relief to pain or anxiety, without fear of an unwanted high.
I predict that the tipping point for cannabis will not be a grand historic moment, but a wave of small ones.
It will be the moment my wife takes 0.75 milligrams from her vaporizer after dropping our young kids off at school and heads to the office. It will be the evening my friend drops his usual nightcap and inhales 1.5 milligrams after dinner before a long restful night of sleep. For me, it was the moment I vaped two milligrams before a brainstorming meeting and realized that as a 48 year-old control freak, I could enjoy cannabis for the rest of my life without having to feel too high or out of control ever again.
The future of cannabis will be for artists. It will be for PTA presidents. It will be for the corner office. Cannabis will be for everyone when it becomes as gentle and comforting as a morning cup of coffee.
And I get it -- dosing is not a sexy topic. It’s a simple and obvious concept, but I believe it is the key mechanism that will change society’s relationship with cannabis -- the simple innovation creates new categories of cannabis users. With control, cannabis becomes what it could never be in the past: Predictable. Repeatable. Routine.
My bet is that precision dosing will allow cannabis to go far beyond simply legalizing a “cannabis industry” adjacent to alcohol and pharmaceuticals. Cannabis will instead be woven into daily life and challenge existing categories like food, entertainment and wellness. Ganja yoga, which combines cannabis and yoga, continues to convert new practitioners to its mix of mindfulness and well-being. Elite athletes use cannabis to enhance performance, from increasing focus to tapping into the pathways of the runner’s high to extend and enhance endurance. Soon, pioneering efforts like these will move into the mainstream.
Category by category, cannabis is poised to reshape the way we live. Someday soon, dosed cannabis, like a good cup of coffee, will become a staple of our daily lives.