Given the tumultuous and traumatic past few days, anyone would be forgiven for rolling up something large and potent for the weekend. However, a new marijuana mantra has been emerging as the drug has become increasingly legal and that is: less is more.
Microdosing, the practice of taking tiny amounts of marijuana for all the benefits and less of the side effects, is being increasingly embraced – and it’s as much by professionals as professional stoners.
Recreational marijuana was already legal in Alaska, Colorado, Washington, Oregon and the District of Columbia before Tuesday’s votes. Weed consumption, meanwhile, has almost doubled nationwide in the last three years, according to polling from Gallup, with one in eight U.S. adults saying they smoke marijuana.
Amid this seismic shift, a new pattern of consumption is emerging stronger than ever: microdosing.
What is microdosing?
Microdosing essentially means, as you might have guessed, taking a very measured and micro dose of THC, the psychoactive ingredient in marijuana. A dose of around 5 to 10 milligrams is a good starting point.
The idea of taking a tiny dose of drugs is not new. In fact, stories of professionals dropping small amounts of LSD to help creativity and productivity surfaced around this time last year.
However, it’s really gaining traction as marijuana use becomes more widespread and users are looking for positive effects without the feared freakouts. More and more manufacturers and medical practitioners are singing its praises.
How do you microdose?
Arguably the easiest way is via edibles. The long-established industry has moved on from brownies and cookies laced with unpredictable potency. High Times highlighted several trends and new products earlier this year, from medicated tea to BBQ sauce, jerky and chewing gum. The site’s Cannabis Cup winners included a pizza sauce, olive oil and green tea.
Kiva Confections, meanwhile, is about to launch marijuana mints. The company’s new product, Petra, will be a blend of California grown cannabis, green tea matcha and “zesty, refreshing flavors,” it says.
“Petra really embodies the concept of responsible, healthy cannabis usage,” the company’s Marketing Communications Manager Christie Strong told Mashable.
“We believe that in a couple years microdosing is going to be the most popular way people use cannabis.
“In the same way we take vitamin C and zinc to avoid getting sick, we will be taking cannabis to stay healthy and safely manage stress and anxiety.”
Another California company, To Whom It May chocolates, has created doses ranging from 2.5 to 45 milligrams that are intended to keep consumers “body functional and mind free.”
“It was very important to have a chocolate that would fit a person who had never tried cannabis before, and would allow them to have a pleasant experience and not have to take only a small bite,” the company’s Tomer Grassiany told Mashable.
Défoncé Chocolatier, meanwhile, has an eye on the premium end of the spectrum. CEO Eric Eslao told Mashable he envisages the product will be available on shelves at high end grocery stores, not just medical dispensaries.
“When we explored branding and packaging, one of the requirements was that the end-product would be something that you would see at Whole Foods,” he said. “Though, realistically, we will likely not see cannabis (in any form) at major grocery outlets for quite some time.”
Who is doing it?
Weed consumption has moved upstairs from the foggy basement cliches and microdosing is reportedly favored by everyone from Silicon Valley coders to SoCal creatives. Kiva’s Christie Strong says that her company’s THC-laced coffee bean bites are a “productivity tool” for “creatives who need to be open to inspiration and still meet their deadline.”
“For anyone whose job blurs the line between work and play, one to two bites are often all that’s needed,” she adds.
Défoncé’s CEO Eric Eslao, meanwhile, is ex-Apple and his product is designed to appeal to connoisseurs a world away from garage bong passers.
“In regards to the design and production processes, I naturally leveraged Apple idiosyncrasies like attention to detail, exhaustive design explorations, and focusing on experiences and not products,” he says. “Every detail, from the feel of the packaging to the snap of the chocolate bar to the eventual effects of the THC, were all meticulously explored, fussed over and executed with the consumer in mind.”
What are the benefits?
Beyond crafting a buzz that flies below the paranoia radar, its proponents cite a variety of medical benefits. Strong insists “it can be used daily for its relaxing, anti-inflammatory properties without fear of excessive psychoactivity interfering with your focus or work.”
“In this way cannabis becomes more like an herbal supplement,” she adds.
“The APA links chronic stress to the six leading causes of death: heart disease, cancer, accidents, respiratory disorders, cirrhosis of the liver and suicide. We have this safe, natural medicine that is completely non-toxic and has never directly caused a single human death.”
Dr Allen Frankel of Green Bridge Medical in Santa Monica has been advocating dosed cannabis medicine for years. He told Mashable he discovered the benefits of small doses almost by accident.
“When we started growing and extracting in 2009 the extractions were terrible,” he said. “We learnt by being incompetent that low doses worked very well.” He’s since used measured doses of varying strengths to treat everything from anxiety to cancer and other pain. “Less is generally more,” he says.
Cannabis is bi-modal, Frankel adds, which means at low dose you get one effect and at high dose you get an opposite effect. But could cannabis really eventually be seen as akin to Vitamin C, as Strong suggests? “Absolutely,” he insists. “It’s a plant – we all forget sometimes. It’s no different to a tomato or an apple. Cannabis has been around for thousands of years.”
Is there anything else to bear in mind?
All purveyors of miniature dosage products urge newbies to exert caution and be mindful that different body types require different doses. The general rule of thumb for beginners is to digest no more than 10 milligrams and wait two hours before consuming any more.
High Times also recommends avoiding alcohol, ensuring products are labelled correctly and kept away from children, and consuming on a full stomach.
So, however tempted you may by this week to really knock yourself into 2017, try taking it easy first.