“Why try micro-dosing? Well, less is more when it comes to marijuana consumption.”

It’s no secret that marijuana legalization is very popular in the US as evidenced by the two biggest national surveys conducted by Gallup and Pew.

Gallup put support for marijuana legalization at 66 percent in 2018, up from from 60 percent in 2016 and 31 percent in 2000. Pew put it at 62 percent in 2018, up from 57 percent in 2016 and 31 percent in 2000. The recently released General Social Survey by NORC, at the University of Chicago shows that 61% of people supported marijuana legalization in 2018, up from 57% in 2016 and 31% in 2000, a rapid shift in public opinion in less than two decades.

While 10 states in the United States have legalized recreational marijuana, Illinois is now poised to be the 11th state to follow suit and the very first state to legalize marijuana sales through the state legislature, rather than a ballot initiative.

With the popularity of marijuana exploding over the last few years, more Americans are now curious about the drug. People who havent consumed marijuana before are looking for ways to consume it without having an experience that is overwhelming and unpleasant. That’s why micro-dosing has become a growing trend with Cannabis advocates pushing for less is more with regards to cannabis consumption. 

What is Micro-Dosing?

Micro-dosing is essentially taking a very small amount of a substance with the purpose of experiencing its therapeutic benefits without the high. When it comes to cannabis, tiny doses of THC can help reduce pain, promote sleep, improve mood and treat depression, stress and anxiety. 

Micro-dosing is hardly a new trend. At a conference on psychedelic research in 2011, James Fadiman, author of The Psychedelic Explorer’s Guide, introduced micro-dosing to the popular discourse when he presented the results of survey data he had collected from a small sample size of people who were micro-dosing LSD.

His survey revealed that regular micro-dosing alleviated a bevy of disorders, including depression, migraines and chronic-fatigue syndrome, while increasing outside-the-box thinking. Micro-dosing LSD became all the rage when Silicon Valley adopted the trend, describing it as a ‘life hack’ as people reported increased productivity and focus at work. 

While microdosing THC and CBD is a relatively new trend on account of marijuanas growing popularity, there is some clinical research suggesting that less is in fact more when it comes to medicinal Cannabis. 

In a 2012 study, for example, patients with advanced cancer who were unresponsive to traditional opioid painkillers were given nabiximols, a THC/CBD compound, at low, medium, and high doses. Patients who received the lowest dosage of cannabinoids showed the greatest reduction in pain, while those receiving higher doses actually experienced more pain.. 

In another study, a group of incarcerated individuals were given low (four milligram) doses of Nabilone, a synthetic cannabinoid, to help treat their post traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) and its associated symptoms. The results, published in 2014, showed significant improvements in PTSD-associated insomnia, nightmares, general symptoms, and even chronic pain.

What is the Optimal Dosage for a Micro-Dose of Cannabis?

There is no optimal dose for microdosing with Cannabis. It depends on a number of factors like previous usage, your genetics and differences in metabolism to name a few. Microdosing is something which is very personal. There is no magic dose that works for everybody. The only way to determine optimal dosage is to experiment and see what works for you.

First time users can start with a dose of 2.5 milligrams, maintain the dosage for a minimum of three days, and increase if necessary.

For regular Cannabis users, it’s recommended to let your Endocannabinoid system reset by abstaining from marijuana for a minimum of 48 hours.

While this might seem like a relatively brief window after years of usage, a brain imaging study published in 2018 tracked the number of cannabinoid receptors during a period of abstinence from cannabis.

The results indicated that even in heavy smokers, the receptors bounced back to baseline levels after just two days. After this neural cleansing it’s recommended to introduce a very low dose of around 1mg and slowly adjust it till you start feeling the benefits of micro-dosing. The goal isn’t to get stoned, but to consume just enough to function normally and maintain focus. 

The use of lower doses can actually lead to increased sensitivity to cannabis over time. While it is merely observational, tests on animals suggest that low level THC doses can result in an up-regulation the Endocannabinoid system. 

Heavy cannabis users develop tolerance to THC, which in turn builds tolerance to the body’s own cannabinoids, which are there for the purpose of promoting balance and health. Thus having a highly sensitive Endocannabinoid system is very valuable for responding to illness, injury and stress. 

The key to successfully microdosing with Cannabis lies in finding your optimal dose. Everyone is going to get to a point where they increase their dosage and it will not work as well as it did before. Since the  optimal dose is different for different people finding it means going past it. 

How to Micro-Dose with Cannabis? 

There are numerous methods of microdosing with Cannabis, but some may be more effective than others. Smoking or vaping is one option but it’s extremely difficult to control the amount of THC in your system using this approach. Its recommended to stick to one puff, wait five minutes to feel any effects, and then take another if necessary. 

A better alternative to smoking or vaping may be tinctures, oils and edibles. These allow users to more accurately control the amount of THC entering their system but caution must be exercised when consuming edibles as they can be unreliable in their ability to deliver a metered dose of THC. 

However now there are a number of products in the market that lend themselves to microdosing. For example, Kiva Confections, a California based company offers a variety of mints and chocolates with THC and CBD concentrations starting at 2.5mg which are suitable for microdosing. These products can be great options for first time consumers who havent consumed Cannabis before.

Micro-dosing marks a shift in the traditional use of camnabis from something that we use for recreation or to treat severe symptoms to something that we use to stay healthy, like we would a multivitamin. 


Malcolm Pinto.