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The wild west of medical cannabis can be extremely daunting for new medical cannabis patients. To make matters worse, dosing out the herb can be extremely challenging. To help make your online shopping and trips to the dispensary a little easier, here are six ways to find the right dose of medical cannabis. Of course, working with a knowledgeable medical practitioner is recommended.

What is a “dose”?

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Dosing medical cannabis can be quite difficult. Every individual cannabis plant produces different levels of cannabinoids, which are the active components in the herb. Both tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) and cannabidiol (CBD) are cannabinoids. THC, however, is the only one that causes the psychoactive “high”.

Finding the right dose of medical cannabis is a highly individual task. If you’ve been consuming cannabis for a while, you are more likely to be tolerant to the herb. This means that you are better able to handle a higher dose and may need to consume more than the standard dose to achieve the desired effects.

Unfortunately, if you are not working closely with a canna-savvy doctor who can help you measure and make estimates on the dose you should be consuming, finding the perfect dose can be a process of trial and error.

Listed below are the standard starting doses for various medical cannabis products. These doses are considered starting points and many patients find that they scale up or down depending on individual need.

1. Flower

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A good measure of a “dose” with dried flower is 0.25 to 0.5 grams of either high-THC or high-CBD cannabis. A half gram is the most common amount found in pre-rolled joints meant for individual consumption. A full gram pre-roll is often considered a bit of a specialty item or is used by patients who have a higher tolerance.

When just starting out, many people find that consuming about 0.25 grams is an easy way to test their reaction to the herb.0.25 grams is about half of the standard joint. Novices will feel the effects of THC kick in after just a couple of tastes. For some, this might be enough.

Smoking joints, however, is not the most medicinal way to consume cannabis. To place less stress on your lungs, vaporization or a water pipe is recommended.

2. Edibles

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A single dose of an edible is 10 mg of either THC or CBD. After testing out a single dose, most medical cannabis patients are recommended to increase in increments of 5 mg until they achieve the desired effects.

However, depending on how your body metabolizes the cannabis, it can take between 30 minutes and two full hours before the effects of the edible present themselves.

It is not recommended to increase your dose of edible cannabis before the full two-hour window has passed. Oral cannabis is one of the strongest ways to consume the herb, and it can be easy to overdo it with edibles. It is impossible to fatally overdose from edibles, but consuming too many high-THC treats is a sure-fire way to have a bad time.

Some medical cannabis products can contain over 100 milligrams of THC. These edibles are typically recommended for patients with severe medical conditions like cancer and are not meant to act as a single dose. For high-dose therapies, it is best to work closely with a savvy doctor.

3. Full-extract medical cannabis oil

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Full-extract oil is considered one of the most potent forms of medical cannabis. These types of oils are frequently used by patients with severe conditions like cancer, epilepsy, and neurological disorders.

Medical cannabis oil is highly concentrated, which means that it can have powerful effects on the brain and body. Children are often given small doses of medical cannabis oil for a variety of serious health conditions, including seizure disorders, autism, and cerebral palsy.

When first starting out with a full-extract medical cannabis oil, most patients take a small droplet about the size of a single grain of rice. At this small dose, many patients repeat the dose three to four times per day. Many advanced medical cannabis patients work up to 1 full gram of cannabis oil per day, divided into multiple doses.

A daily gram of full extract cannabis oil is a very large amount and it is not recommended to self-treat at these high doses. Always work with a cannabis-savvy doctor when possible.

4. Hemp CBD extracts

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For the most part, a standard dose of an oral CBD extract begins at 10 mg. However, it’s also possible to microdose CBD at 2.5 to 5 milligrams daily. For more severe conditions, a much higher dose may be needed.

CBD oils and other products sold online should have serving recommendations listed directly on the packaging or on the brand website. CBD oils and similar products can vary widely across different brands, and it is recommended to reach out to the company in question for more specific information about how the product should be consumed.

5. BHO and other extractions

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Butane Hash Oil (BHO) and other extractions are typically sold in 0.5 and full gram quantities. Unfortunately, a “dose” of BHO is typically measured by visual size rather than total weight. However, a half-gram of BHO is thought provides about 20 servings or dabs.

Vapor cartridges all tend to have different recommended doses depending on the individual product. The dose you’re getting may also depend on how hot the cartridge is heated, as well as how long and hard you inhale. Most people just try a puff or two and wait 10 to 15 minutes to see how much an inhalation affects them.

How to find the right dose of medical cannabis

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While it’s always best to work with a medical professional when trying medical cannabis for the first time, there are a couple of general tips that can help get you started in the right direction. Many medical cannabis patients are elderly, and experimenting with a psychoactive substance might seem a bit daunting.

Here are a couple of ways to make the process easier:

Start with products that contain cannabidiol (CBD)

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There are some cases where going straight for THC might be recommended by a medical professional. For the most part, however, it is far easier to begin with a product that contains CBD.

As mentioned above, CBD does not cause a psychoactive high. Rather, it provides ample physical benefit without many changes in cognitive ability.

Starting with either a strain or product that contains close to a one-to-one ratio of THC to CBD would be an excellent first choice. Both THC and CBD work with one another synergistically to produce medicinal effects.

Mixing both THC and CBD is thought to provide improved pain management and relief from symptoms like anxiety, chronic stress, and depression.

CBD also helps “tame” THC, reducing the psychoactivity of the cannabinoid. Strains that contain a 1:1 ratio of the two compounds will have very minimal psychoactive effects.

Another option is to start with a CBD product that does not contain any THC at all, such as a hemp CBD Oil. These oils will have no psychoactive effect whatsoever.

Start small and work up

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To play it safe with medical cannabis, it’s always best to start small and work up. Unfortunately, because cannabis can be very difficult to dose, most patients have to experiment quite a bit to find the products and regimens that work best for them. However, using the lowest possible therapeutic dose is always recommended.

Disclaimer: the information presented in this article is intended for educational purposes and should not be used in place of medical advice or treatment. Always work with a medical professional whenever possible. 

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Anna Wilcox

Anna Wilcox is a Pacific Northwest native with a passion for cannabis and natural health. Contact her on Twitter @delilahbfield.
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