Microdosing Cannabis Could Change Your Life

Photo by Dominik Vanyi

Getting high isn't for everyone, but that doesn't mean not everyone can benefit from cannabis. For those looking to use the plant to boost wellness, creativity, focus, and functionality, high doses of THC can be a distraction, or even a deterrent. Because THC can have a biphasic effect, meaning that high doses can have the opposite effect of low doses, a small amount of THC (such as five milligrams) might, for instance, quell anxiety, while a larger amount might trigger it. That's where microdosing comes in.

In an era of legal pot, with an ever-diversifying selection of cannabis products, consumers have more options to self-titrate—to take small incremental doses as they go, up until whatever doses fits their needs. Edible microdosable products like Mondo Meds, Kiva Terra Bites or Petra Mints, and Kinslips are especially useful for this, offering consumers the opportunity to take tiny, even sub perceptible doses of THC for a subtle lift, without getting high. For new consumers, this can be a gentle way to introduce them to cannabis.

"Microdosing cannabis is the way of the future," says Emily O'Brien, founder of Mondo Meds. (Like cannabis parties?!) "Not everyone can benefit from ingesting a higher amount of THC, which can increase anxiety, but everyone benefits from microdosing THC, which allows for a greater sense of control when it comes to cannabis use." With the stigma still lingering around getting too high and feeling weird from that, microdosing is a method to ease into the psychoactive effects of cannabis.

It can be similar to slowly drinking a glass of wine, rather than taking a shot of Everclear, says O'Brien. "A microdose essentially will allow you to breathe a little easier, to have greater empathy for yourself," she says. After all, that's why O'Brien created Mondo Meds—to circumvent that anxious THC high, and instead provide a natural alternative to Xanax.

The best way to microdose is to eat cannabis—preferably through a sublingual method, which the body processes differently than an edible that goes through the digestive tract—rather than to smoke it, O'Brien explains. With traditional edibles, the liver transforms Delta-9-THC into 11-Hydroxy-THC, an active metabolite that could feel a little more psychedelic and last a little longer than regular THC. However, products like Mondo Meds or Kinslips that bypass the digestive system allow the consumer to very subtly feel the effects of the THC within minutes, without the edible wild card of potentially overwhelming the consumer.

A typical microdose is between 2.5 and five milligrams of THC, and definitely under 10 milligrams (it depends on the consumer's tolerance).

"For those who don't want to smoke or vape, edibles can be an unknown experience," says Steven Marshank, co-founder of Kinslips. "Sublinguals can provide a more precise and consistent low dose experience for new consumers." Rather than through the digestive system, the product's blend of terpenes and cannabinoids are absorbed under the tongue, through the mucosa and directly into the bloodstream, delivering a richer and predictable experience, he explains. "The cannabis market is evolving and as customers become more discerning about the way that they pair their cannabis choices to their lifestyle, sublingual absorption can provide a reliable dosage, faster onset, and deliver a more precise experience," Marshank says. "There's quite a shift in the way people consume their cannabis and this sublingual delivery system is what I would term quasi-pharmaceutical, as we have seen Big Pharma even move towards sublingual delivery because of the ease and efficacy."

The typical THC microdoser, or more specifically the typical Kinslips consumer, falls into two categories, Marshank describes: Baby boomers ages 65 and above, who have rediscovered pot, and people ages 25 through 44, with kids, fast-paced professions, and altogether busy lifestyles.

Both groups are looking for a subtle lift, nothing too overwhelming, but rather a cannabis experience that fits into their lifestyles, without too heavily altering their minds or their days.

As far as traditional edibles go, Kiva offers 2.5 and 5 milligram microdoseable options to integrate cannabis into the consumer's life for more subtle, wholistic health benefits, explains Christie Strong, marketing and communications manager at Kiva Confections. "People are finding this wonderful depth of experience within a microdose. When you're not chasing after psychoactivity, you're able to discover wonderful sensations in subtle ways," she says. "Microdosing cannabis is incredibly safe, non-toxic, balancing, supplements the endocannabinoid system, promotes restful sleep, and helps with pain, depression, and anxiety."

Whether the consumer is a parent rushing between soccer practice and PTA meetings, a coder aiming to think more creatively, or an elderly person looking for a natural, non-pharmaceutical boost to their health, microdosing cannabis allows the consumer to take control of their experience.

"We can tune into our bodies, and listen to what they're saying and what they need in the moment," says Strong. "It empowers us to take our health and wellbeing into our own hands."

While certain newer ways of ingesting tend to make microdosing a little easier—the Mondo Meds and Kin Slips, for example—there are certainly people who choose to microdose with more traditional modes of ingestion like smoking. One quick puff on a joint can provide a very subtle psychoactive effect. In fact, and depending on where you live, some dispensaries carry flower that is equal parts CBD to THC and is not grown to make you feel extremely high. This is a good old-fashioned way to experience the benefits of the microdose without using the most advanced products.

It's recommended that new customers begin their cannabis journey with a little CBD. Taken regularly, or as needed, it can be an adequate form of microdosing for some. And while it doesn't have a psychoactive effect, it still provides many of the healing benefits of THC—restoring balance and a sense of calm in the body—which, in the end, is what microdosing is all about.

Madison Margolin is an LA/NY-based journalist on the cannabis beat. Her work has been featured in Rolling Stone, LA Weekly, Merry Jane, Herb, Playboy, and other places too.