New cannabis consumers are often attracted to edibles but wonder how much is too much. To help both Colorado native newbies and the many tourists who visit Colorado and have questions about edible potency, industry officials and state regulators have worked to educate people on edible consumption limits.
Some cannabis companies have determined that the best way to handle any uncertainty is simply to create edible products with less THC. California companies Kiva and W!NK, for example, have begun developing product lines that will allow people to microdose.
Microdosing started as a concept to help patients take their medicine in small quantities so that they didn't overdo it. Now microdosing has moved into the recreational market, too, so people can enjoy the tasty treats edibles companies develop without getting too high.
Both Kiva and W!NK have developed product lines that contain low doses of THC; consumers can eat a few edibles at a time, moderating the dose so that they can achieve a gradual buzz.
"You want to make sure you have the right experience with it," says Stacy Verbiest of W!NK. "After I vaped a few times, I had an experience with an edible and took too much of it, and it was not a good experience.... I didn't think I'd ever eat one again. It scared the life out of me."
Christie Strong, Kiva's marketing communications manager, sat down with us to outline the three things everyone should know about microdosing:
1. It's all about finding your "minimum effective dose"
Many people who try edibles for the first time become overwhelmed by the experience. Everyone has different tolerance levels; a 10 mg piece of chocolate will affect one person differently than another. Microdosing with 2.5 milligram products allows the consumer to ingest the initial THC, then gradually eat more until the consumer finds the right high.
"The MED [minimum effective dose] is something people don't understand," Strong says. "Cannabis is biphasic, so in small amounts you have these wonderful anti-inflammatory relaxing properties and no side effects. In large amounts, you can get almost all side effects, and you're actually losing those great health benefits."
2. Timing and moderation are key
One problem with edibles is the time it takes for your body to feel the high after digesting the THC. When you smoke, the THC is inhaled and instantly absorbed into your lungs; when THC is digested through the stomach, it can take up to two hours for the full effect to kick in. Microdosing allows you to use edibles more like snacking — you can eat one or two at a time, wait a while, and eat more if the high doesn't kick in.
"By using a two-and-a-half-milligram product, you can slowly raise your dose over a series of hours or time, using it to find that perfect dose for yourself, which is going to vary at different occasions or different times," Strong says. "It's a great place to start when you just need to calm down, deal with some stress and anxiety, but you still need complete mental sharpness and acuity."
3. Avoid side effects
Most marijuana users have had at least one bad experience on weed, whether suffering through extreme paranoia, passing out or just feeling like they're losing control of their senses. With the high THC limits in today's weed, it's easy to overdo.
"We need to avoid those horror stories of over-ingestion," Strong says. "This is the perfect introductory edible. Two and a half milligrams ensures that no user is going to have an overwhelming experience that will turn them off of edibles or turn them off of cannabis. You can give this to your grandmother and be confident that it will be something she'll enjoy and it won't be too much for her."