TEXT BY MARIE LODI
ILLUSTRATIONS BY JOEL HOLLAND
Cannabis dosing is a personal endeavor. Learn how numerous factors — how you dose, what you dose, and your own physiological makeup — determine the effect of consumption.
Cannabinoids are the chemical compounds that bind to receptors in our brain to help provide relief. There are three types of cannabinoids: the endocannabinoids found in our bodies that bind to CB1 and CB2 receptors; synthetic cannabinoids, which are made in a lab; and phytocannabinoids, the ones found in cannabis as well as other plant botanicals. Cannabis contains at least 85 cannabinoids, but the ones we’re most familiar with are THC and CBD.
What makes the endocannabinoid system especially cool? When homeostasis is compromised, it can rely on phytocannabinoids to put everything in order. If you’re in pain and ingest cannabis, the phytocannabinoids will relieve that pain. Same with stimulating appetite and treating insomnia.
Back in your high school biology class, you probably remember learning about the human body’s major organ systems, such as the circulatory, muscular, skeletal, and nervous systems. But in the early ‘90s (during the height of Nirvana, basically), the endocannabinoid system was discovered. This system, also known as ECS, is made up of three components: endocannabinoids, the cannabis-like compounds our body creates (one is even named anandamide, the Sanskrit word for bliss); cannabinoid receptors (CB1 and CB2); and finally, the enzymes that break down the cannabinoids. The ECS is responsible for balancing out different processes in the body, such as sleep, pain, appetite, mood, seizure threshold, immune system, relaxation, and more. This is what we refer to as homeostasis.
The different factors that can determine the effects of cannabis are the dosage or concentration of cannabis consumed, the various cannabinoid compounds in the product itself (does it have more or less THC?), the terpenes, the route of administration, and the timing. Individual factors include the health status of the consumer, their age, the co-administration of other drugs or medicines, and lastly, tolerance. Your friend’s experience might be vastly different from your own. For instance, you might be totally chill on a 10mg edible, while a pal might be best starting with a 2.5mg dosage. If the person uses cannabis daily or if they have only tried it once, the effect can differ, but it also might not.
When it comes to ingesting cannabis, finding the proper dosage isn’t a one-size-fits-all situation. It can depend on a world of different factors, the combinations of those factors, and so on. Some people are able to ingest small amounts of cannabis to achieve their desired results, while others have to depend on a larger or more frequent amount, or both. It’s always best to keep in mind that there is no standard dosing protocol. It all depends on the cannabis consumer, who must develop a method of self-titration (a.k.a. Doctor YOU). Start with a low dosage, like 2.5mg of THC, and wait one to two hours. Then, slowly increase as you observe how you feel and what affect the dosage is having on your body.
Inhalation: includes smoking and vaping. Affects you the fastest, in three to five minutes. Peaks in 30 minutes; can last for one to four hours, depending on the dosage.
Try: dosist Bliss dose pen, for a controlled dose that perks you up.
Sublingual: includes tinctures and oils. Take the sublingual under your tongue, or against your cheek, and allow it to sit for 15–45 seconds, depending on the oil’s thickness. This can take effect in 15–60 minutes, and peaks in one or two hours. Typically lasts for four hours.
Try: Kin Slips Shut Eye. Unlike an edible, this sublingual only takes 10–15 minutes to get going. Once you're feeling it, a restful night's sleep is right around the corner. For a more chill, non-psychoactive alternative, try Select CBD Drops.
Oral ingestion: includes food and beverage edibles, and capsules. Can take one to two hours for effect. Peaks in two to three hours and typically lasts six to eight hours. Because of the way an edible is processed through the liver, it can result in a more potent form of THC, resulting in a bigger high.
Try: LEVEL Protab Indica for a relaxing body high.
Topical: includes lotions, oils, and patches for external use only. Does not cause any psychoactivity. Effects are local, not systemic.
Try: Papa & Barkley Relief Patch 1:1 for full-body relief.