To avoid over consumption, novice consumers are recommended to start between 1–5mg (microdose), moderate using consumers are recommended to use 5–20mg, heavy users can consume 25mg+ (macrodose). These are more conservative dosing guidelines than most industry standards. Attenuation can occur and different doses can be used for various desired effects, once a consumer has become accustomed to their individual experiences.
L: start low E: establish potency S: go slow S: supplement as needed
Inhalation (flower, concentrates)
- Cannabis can be heated (vaporized or atomized) or combusted and then absorbed through the alveoli in the lungs into the bloodstream. Cannabinoids and terpenes then travel through the bloodstream to areas of the body including through the blood-brain barrier where psychoactivity can then ensue once receptors in the brain are stimulated.
- Quickest onset; most efficient way to receive a large dose; effects last ~2–4 hours
- Inhaling plants or concentrates (wax, oil, hash, kief, etc.) can be done through glass/ceramic pieces, joints or blunts, vaporizers, dab rigs, vape pens, etc.
- Can titrate doses by spacing inhalations at intervals and increasing or decreasing inhalations
- *The recent vape crisis involved vape pens consisting of concentrated oil. Additives to the cannabis oil, may be the cause of adverse health effects.
Oral Consumption (edibles, capsules, beverages)
- Resin is extracted from the plant, and most commonly added to an alcohol-based solvent or fat-based solvent, then used as an ingredient in food. Solventless concentrates may be put directly into capsules as clarified oil or mixed with coconut oil, for consumption.
- New technologies are constantly being developed to create non-fat-based solutions for beverages — from nanotechnology to using a tapioca-based powder.
- 1–2 hour onset, due to digestion; effects last ~6–12 hours
- Liver process Delta-9 to Delta-11 THC; metabolite can lead to greater stimulation of CB1 receptors in the brain causing greater psychoactivity
- Most common method that leads to over-consumption
Sublingual/Oromucosal (tinctures, strips, etc.)
- Administered through tinctures (drops or sprays), mouth strips, lozenges, decarboxylated oil, etc. Anything that is orally administered and will absorb through capillaries in the mouth (most commonly under the tongue).
- Onset is 15–30 minutes but the peak may take longer to occur (due to partial digestion), effects last ~2–5 hours
Topical (lotions, balms, bath salts, lubricant)
- Cannabis may be locally applied on the surface of the skin for pain, inflammation, psoriasis, dermatitis, dry skin, etc. May also be used as a first aid item for scrapes, bug bites, and burns
- Typically extracted into alcohol, a salve, or some sort of fat base and often mixed with other essential oils or beneficial skin substances
- Penetrates to CB2 and inflammatory/pain receptors in the dermis, does not make you “high” but trace amounts may enter the bloodstream
- Onset in as little as 5 minutes, effects last ~2–4 hours
Transdermal (patches, gels, etc.)
- Formulated like nicotine/birth control patches with a gradual release of cannabinoids, through dermal absorption, accompanied by a formula to help the medicine pass through the lipid bilayer straight to the blood stream
- Onset is within 15 minutes, effects last ~6–12 hours