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Know your dose: How to decide how much to take

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Contents

  1. Important factors to consider
  2. The therapeutic window
  3. Incremental dosing
  4. Dosing considerations for different product types

Medical cannabis is a highly personal affair. When it comes to finding the perfect dose, dozens of variables factor into the equation. Differences in product types, potencies, individual genetics, weight, age, and so on produce unique experiences every time an individual chooses to consume cannabis.

With so little research available, it requires an ongoing effort to determine the best cannabis dose for each person’s specific medical needs. Doctors are a good starting point. However, it’s helpful to know how different factors play into your cannabis experience. This knowledge can empower you to make informed, safe decisions about your medical cannabis use.

In this article, we take a deep dive into finding the optimal dose, how to incrementally adjust the dose, and what to keep in mind when using different forms of medical cannabis.

Important factors to consider

Every person has a unique endocannabinoid system (ECS) and, as such, a different response when they consume cannabis. It’s essential to know what type of product at what potency produces what kind of response. Determine your medical cannabis goals and slowly work to find what allows you to reach those goals.

Every person has a unique endocannabinoid system (ECS) and, as such, a different response when they consume cannabis. Photo by: Gina Coleman/Weedmaps

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Some patients find success with 1 milligram of cannabis, while others require much more potent doses. However, while higher doses will have more potent effects for a time, subsequent dose increases will result in weaker effects accompanied by more adverse reactions. And the highest dose is hardly the most cost-effective. Medical marijuana is expensive, and consuming more doesn’t necessarily equate to more relief.

The optimal dose, then, is the lowest amount that provides adequate therapeutic relief without adverse effects.

The therapeutic window

A therapeutic window is a period in which one can observe measurable therapeutic effects, while adverse side effects are avoided.

The therapeutic window for novice cannabis users is much narrower than for seasoned consumers. The ECS is a highly tuned instrument that responds to overstimulation by diminishing cannabinoid receptors, meaning higher doses will be required to achieve the same therapeutic effect. With higher doses come higher chances of adverse effects. .

“Start low, go slow,” is advice provided by many dispensaries, with clinical research to back it up. A 2012 study showed that patients with advanced cancer experienced more effective pain relief with fewer side effects by using lower doses of cannabis spray. Another study found that low doses of vaporized cannabis were equally effective in relieving nerve pain as higher doses and the smaller doses were less likely to have a significant impact on daily cognitive function.

Clearly, there’s an upper limit to cannabis’ effectiveness. While to date, there is no known lethal dose to cannabis, it’s possible to experience unwanted anxiety or paranoia by consuming too much.

This is where incremental dosing comes into play.

Incremental dosing

Except in some states, physicians aren’t allowed to provide patients with a specific medical marijuana dose, as they would for other prescription drugs. Therefore these patients must gradually increase doing to figure out what works best for their physiology, symptoms, and cannabis goals.

Check for cannabinoids

It’s essential to know precisely what’s in a medical cannabis product before purchase. Check the label for cannabinoid percentages (potency) and terpene content, which plays an important role in cultivar-associated experiences via the entourage effect.

The cannabinoid makeup of a medical marijuana product can dramatically affect the users’ experience. Photo by: Gina Coleman/Weedmaps

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The cannabinoid makeup of a medical marijuana product can dramatically affect the users’ experience. THC, the most well-known cannabinoid, is responsible for the psychoactive intoxication of cannabis and may provide a host of medicinal properties. CBD, the plant’s second-most abundant cannabinoid, has its own list of reputed therapeutic benefits, as well as overlapping qualities while acting on different physiological mechanisms than THC.

Many studies show that CBD may protect against cognitive impairment caused by THC. THC and CBD used together, depending on the dosage and consumption method, could offer a patient higher therapeutic value.

Determine your cannabis baseline

By starting with lower levels of potency, patients allow the ECS to self-correct and achieve equilibrium. Less potency will be needed for maintenance, reducing tolerance build-up, unwanted side-effects, and financial expenditure in the long run.

A clean slate allows you to establish a tolerance baseline from which you can determine your optimal cannabis dose. In an interview with Marijuana.com, Dr. Chris Emerson recommended regular users start with a 48-hour break to reset the system. More seasoned cannabis users might require a more extended tolerance break.

After the break, try a three-milligram dose of THC. Observe and write down how it feels. The next day, try three milligrams of CBD and observe those effects. Take the next week to try different combinations of THC and CBD while keeping the total less than 3 mg.

As you establish a baseline, you can begin to experiment with more precise doses. Keep your medical cannabis goals in mind as you mix different ratios, try dosing at various times during the day, timing meals with your dose, etc. From here, you can steadily increase your dosage in small increments as needed until you reach the lowest amount that delivers your desired results.

Microdosing is also increasing in popularity as people seek the therapeutic benefits of cannabis without diminishing cognitive capacity. Some users start with 1 to 2.5 mg, just enough to mitigate symptoms that would otherwise affect their ability to work.

Dosing considerations for different product types

Optimum dosing depends on the type of cannabis product. Some offer more consistent and precise options than others. Edibles, for example, can be broken into smaller serving sizes, whereas flower potency ranges based on cultivar type, its growing conditions, bioavailability, and cannabinoid makeup. Other products offer an innately more potent experience, such as dabbing concentrates, while others have longer onsets and durations.

Flower

Smoking cannabis flower provides a quick onset of effects within seconds of inhalation, hitting a peak at around 30 minutes, after which it lasts anywhere from one to three hours.

Smoking cannabis flower provides a quick onset of effects within seconds of inhalation. Photo by: Gina Coleman/Weedmaps

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Each strain, or cultivar of marijuana flower varies in potency and cannabinoid content, and differences often exist in strains with the same name. A cannabis plant’s compounds can change based on it’s growing conditions and how it’s cured and dried. Purchasing a product from the same cultivator or brand help ensure a similar experience every time.

However, it’s difficult to accurately dose cannabis flower, even when it’s purchased from the same breeder and crop. Say a lab result reports that a strain has 10% THC, and you are buying one gram. This means that there are 100 milligrams of THC in the amount you purchased. When smoked, only approximately 50% of the THC in flower enters the bloodstream while the remainder burns off, leaving behind 50 mg of cannabis in our example. At this point, it’s hard to separate a single gram into several doses without guessing.

A good starting point is taking one or two hits off a small bowl and waiting up to an hour to see how you feel. You can always smoke more if you don’t achieve the desired result.

Vaporizers heat cannabis flower or extracts to their vaporization point, at which consumers inhale the vaporized trichomes and terpenes. Effects appear within seconds, peak within 15 minutes, and last anywhere between one and three hours.

Vaping flower presents similar challenges to smoking it, namely how to measure doses precisely. Vape cartridges, alternatively, typically show THC percentages on the box, and some manufacturers give a rough estimate of how many hits are in a single cartridge.

Cannabis oil, another vaping choice, is also more potent than flower. Photo by: Gina Coleman/Weedmaps

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Cannabis oil, another vaping choice, is also more potent than flower, so fewer hits introduce more cannabinoids to your system.

Concentrates and dabs

Cannabis concentrates are considered a more advanced method of consumption not recommended for novice medical users. Concentrates, or dabs, are highly potent cannabis extracts that contain an average of 60% to 99% THC, up to five times the amount in cannabis flower. Fast-acting dabs hit your system immediately and last up to three hours.

Dabs are usually sold in half-gram or full gram amounts. If a dab has 60% potency, there are 600mg of THC in a gram of the concentrate.

Some types of concentrates are easier to break into smaller portions than others. Shatter, for instance, can be cut into even pieces and weighed on a small scale. Wax or resin, on the other hand, don’t lend themselves to easy measuring. Most consumers recommend starting with a single dab no bigger than the tip of a nail or ballpoint pen.

Using the right tool also makes it easier to portion a precise dab dose. A sharp, flat tool will more easily slice shatter, while a spoon scoops up more precise servings of gooey rosin.

Dabs are recommended for seasoned users or those who require more substantial doses. Photo by: Gina Coleman/Weedmaps

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Remember, start low and go slow. Dabs aren’t for the faint of heart. They are recommended for seasoned users or those who require more substantial doses.

Edibles

The body processes THC in edibles differently than other cannabis products. After digestion, the liver transforms THC into 11-hydroxy-THC, a compound that’s more potent than THC, lasts longer, and has more sedating properties. It takes 45 to 60 minutes for edibles to kick in and effects last for up to six hours, depending on the dose and an individual’s metabolism.

Edibles’ packaging will list cannabinoid potency in milligrams per product. Many professional edible producers will evenly mix cannabinoids throughout the food, which allows consumers to divide it into smaller serving sizes. For example, an infused chocolate bar may contain 50 mg of THC total and be easily broken into 10 pieces of five milligrams each.

Edibles’ packaging will list cannabinoid potency in milligrams per product. This precise division makes consuming smaller doses easier and produces more consistent effects. Photo by: Gina Coleman/Weedmaps

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This precise division makes consuming smaller doses easier and produces more consistent effects. With edibles, it’s advisable to start with a low dose, such as one to five milligrams. Wait 24 hours to evaluate the dose’s efficacy and slowly increase by 1 mg every 24 hours until you reach the desired relief.

Tinctures

Cannabis tinctures are made by dissolving cannabis in an alcohol or oil solution. Tinctures are crafted with specific amounts of ingredients and packaged in dropper bottles, allowing patients to precisely and discreetly self-dose by dropping the liquid under the tongue or mixing it into a beverage. Effects occur within 20 to 30 minutes and last two to three hours. Start with a small amount, such as 0.5 or 1mg THC, and wait at least an hour before increasing the dose.

Tinctures are crafted with specific amounts of ingredients and packaged in dropper bottles, allowing patients to precisely and discreetly self-dose. Photo by: Gina Coleman/Weedmaps

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Tinctures are meant to be absorbed in the mouth. This requires a person to use their tongue to rub the product in, under the tongue and inside of the cheeks, allowing the product to remain in the mouth for 2-3 minutes. If a tincture is swallowed before it is fully absorbed, it acts more like an edible, and the effects can last up to 6 hours. Many patients use tinctures this way before bed, as a sleep aid.

Topicals

Topicals are lotions, ointments, or transdermal patches that are usually non-intoxicating and provide relief for a host of benefits. Because they don’t present adverse side effects, topicals are an excellent choice for novice cannabis users or those with a low-THC tolerance.

Topicals are lotions, ointments, or transdermal patches that are usually non-intoxicating and provide relief for a host of benefits. Photo by: Gina Coleman/Weedmaps

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In order to reap the benefits of topicals, they must be fully absorbed into the skin. This requires rubbing the product (such as a lotion) all the way in, until the skin is essentially dry. Many patients report the best results when they apply topicals frequently, up to every two hours.

Know your dose: How to decide how much to take Copy article link to clipboard. Link copied to clipboard. Contents Important factors to consider The therapeutic window

Mississippi Laws and Penalties

Possession

Cultivation

Hash & Concentrates

Paraphernalia

Miscellaneous

Penalty Details

Possession

A first offense for possession of 30 grams or less is punishable by a fine of $100-$250.

A subsequent conviction will result in 5-60 days imprisonment and a fine of up to $250.

A third conviction will result in 5 days-6 months imprisonment as well as a maximum fine of $1,000.

  • Miss. Ann. Code § 41-29-139 Web Search

Possession of between 30 and 250 grams is a felony punishable by a maximum of 3 years imprisonment and/or a maximum fine of $3,000, or by up to one year imprisonment and a maximum fine of $1000.

  • Miss. Ann. Code § 41-29-139(c) (2)(B) Web Search

Possession of between 250 and 500 grams is a felony punishable by 2-8 years imprisonment and/or a maximum fine of $50,000.

Possession of between 500 grams and 1 kilogram is a felony punishable by 4-16 years imprisonment and/or a maximum fine of $250,000.

  • Miss. Ann. Code § 41-29-139 (c)(2)(B) Web Search

Possession of between 1 and 5 kilograms is a felony punishable by between 6 and 24 years in prison and/or a maximum fine of up to $500,000.

  • Miss. Ann. Code § 41-29-139 (c)(2)(B) Web Search

Possession of 5 kilograms or more is a felony punishable by 10-30 years imprisonment as well as a maximum fine of $1,000,000.

Selling up to 30 grams of marijuana is a felony punishable by up to 3 years imprisonment and/ or a maximum fine of $3,000.

  • Miss. Ann. Code § 41-29-139 (b)(2)(A) Web Search

Selling between 30 grams and 250 grams is a felony punishable by a maximum sentence of 5 years imprisonment and/or a maximum fine of $5,000.

  • Miss. Ann. Code § 41-29-139 (b)(2)(A) Web Search

Selling between 250 grams and 500 grams is punishable by 3-10 years imprisonment and a maximum fine of $15,000.

Selling between 500 grams and 1 kilogram is punishable by 5-20 years imprisonment and/or a maximum fine of $20,000.

  • Miss. Ann. Code § 41- 29- 139 (b)(2) Web Search

Selling more than 1 kilogram is punishable by 10-40 years imprisonment and a maximum fine of $1,000,000.

  • Miss. Ann. Code § 41-29-139 (f) Web Search

The sale to a minor or within 1,500 feet of a school, church, or other designated area is a felony that carries with it a doubling of the incarceration period and the fine.

  • Miss. Ann. Code § 41-29-139 Web Search
Cultivation

Cultivation in Mississippi will be punished based upon the aggregate weight of the plants found. See the “Possession” and “Sale, Trafficking, or Distribution” sections for further penalty details.

Hash & Concentrates

Under the Mississippi Code, hashish is defined as the resin extracted from the cannabis plant and any preparation, derivative, or mixture of that resin.

  • Miss. Ann. Code § 41-29-113 Web Search

The sale, barter, manufacture, transfer, or distribution of hashish, or possession of hashish with intent to take any of the above actions is subject to up to 30 years imprisonment and a fine of no more than $1,000,000 and no less than $5000.

Trafficking hashish is subject to a mandatory minimum penalty of 30 years imprisonment without the possibility of parole or a reduction in the sentence. It is also subject to a fine no less than $5000 and no more than $1,000,000.

  • Miss. Ann. Code § 41-29-139(g) Web Search

Possession of .1 gram or less of hashish is a misdemeanor and is punishable by up to 1 year imprisonment and/or a maximum fine of $1000.

  • Miss. Ann. Code § 41-29-139(c) Web Search

Possession of between .1g and 2g of hashish is a felony punishable by a maximum of 3 years imprisonment and/or a fine no greater than $50,000.

  • Miss. Ann. Code § 41-29-139(c) Web Search

Possession of between 2g and 10g of hashish is a felony, punishable by a maximum of 8 years imprisonment and/or a fine no greater than $250,000.

  • Miss. Ann. Code § 41-29-139(c) Web Search

Possession of between 10g and 30g of hashish is a felony punishable by 3-20 years imprisonment and a fine of no more than $500,000.

  • Miss. Ann. Code § 41-29-139(c) Web Search

Possession of more than 30g of hashish is a felony punishable by 10-40 years in prison and a fine of no more than $1,000,000.

  • Miss. Ann. Code § 41-29-139(c) Web Search

Sale or distribution of Hashish by a person over 21 years old to a person under 21 years old doubles the maximum allowable period of incarceration for that offense. The fine for the offense does not change.

  • Miss. Ann. Code § 41-29-145 Web Search

Sale, barter, distribution, transfer, or manufacture of hashish or possession with intent to commit any of the above offenses within 1500 feet of a school building or other designated place or within 1000 feet of the property a school building or other designated place resides on doubles the maximum allowable period of incarceration for that offense.

The fine for the offense can also be doubled in this situation. A subsequent conviction under this statute will lead to the imposition of the maximum allowable fine and incarceration period.

  • Miss. Code Ann. § 411-29-142 Web Search

The maximum period of incarceration and maximum fine for any crime under this section may be doubled for any person who, at the time of their conviction, has a prior conviction for any similar drug crime.

  • Miss. Ann. Code § 41-29-147 Web Search

The use of a gun in the commission of any drug crime or possession of a gun at the time of arrest for a drug crime doubles both the maximum allowable period of incarceration and the maximum fine for any given offense.

  • Miss. Ann. Code § 41-29-152 Web Search
Paraphernalia

Using, or possessing paraphernalia is a misdemeanor, punishable by up to 6 months in jail and a maximum fine of $500. This does not apply to individuals convicted of possession of 30 grams of marijuana, approximately one ounce or less; in that case the possession punishment would be the only penalty.

  • Miss. Ann. Code § 41-29-139 (d)(1) Web Search

Selling paraphernalia is a misdemeanor, punishable by up to a $500 fine or up to 6 months in jail. Additionally, selling paraphernalia to a minor is punishable of up to $1,000 and/or up to one year in jail.

It is illegal to advertise the sale of paraphernalia in any print or electronic publication. The penalty for such activity is a fine of up to $500 and/or 6 months in jail.

  • Miss. Ann. Code § 41-29-139(d) (4) Web Search
Miscellaneous

Any conviction will result in a 6-month driver’s license suspension.

Possession of between one and 30 grams kept in a vehicle is punishable of a fine up to $1,000 and up to 90 days in jail. This applies to areas in the vehicle occupied by drivers or passengers including the utility or glove compartment but does not apply to the trunk.

An automobile will not be subject to a forfeiture for conviction for possession for less than 30 grams of marijuana, for possession of between 1 and 30 grams in a vehicle or possession of more than 30 but less than 250 grams.

  • Miss. Ann. Code § 41-29 -153. Web Search
More Information
Decriminalization

The state has decriminalized marijuana to some degree. Typically, decriminalization means no prison time or criminal record for first-time possession of a small amount for personal consumption. The conduct is treated like a minor traffic violation.

Drugged Driving

Every state criminalizes driving under the influence of a controlled substance. Some jurisdictions also impose additional per se laws. In their strictest form, these laws forbid drivers from operating a motor vehicle if they have a detectable level of an illicit drug or drug metabolite (i.e., compounds produced from chemical changes of a drug in the body, but not necessarily psychoactive themselves) present in their bodily fluids above a specific, state-imposed threshold. Read further information about cannabinoids and their impact on psychomotor performance. Additional information regarding cannabinoids and proposed per se limits is available online.

Mandatory Minimum Sentence

When someone is convicted of an offense punishable by a mandatory minimum sentence, the judge must sentence the defendant to the mandatory minimum sentence or to a higher sentence. The judge has no power to sentence the defendant to less time than the mandatory minimum. A prisoner serving an MMS for a federal offense and for most state offenses will not be eligible for parole. Even peaceful marijuana smokers sentenced to “life MMS” must serve a life sentence with no chance of parole.

Medical CBD

This state has passed a medical CBD law allowing for the use of cannabis extracts that are high in CBD and low in THC in instances where a physician has recommended such treatment to a patient with a state-qualifying condition.

Medical Marijuana

This state has medical marijuana laws enacted. Modern research suggests that cannabis is a valuable aid in the treatment of a wide range of clinical applications. These include pain relief, nausea, spasticity, glaucoma, and movement disorders. Marijuana is also a powerful appetite stimulant and emerging research suggests that marijuana’s medicinal properties may protect the body against some types of malignant tumors, and are neuroprotective.

Mississippi Laws and Penalties Possession Cultivation Hash & Concentrates Paraphernalia Miscellaneous Penalty Details Possession A first offense for possession of 30 grams or