The THC Dosage Guide: Flower, Edibles, Concentrates and More
I would venture to guess that nearly every cannabis user has felt uncomfortably high. This feeling typically results from consuming too much THC, whether smoked, vaporized, or ingested orally. The good news is that this experience can generally be avoided by following my cannabis dosage guide below. It is important to understand that the specific effects of cannabis are generally dependent on three factors:
Dosage – The amount and type of cannabinoids usedSelf – Individual differences in the brain and endocannabinoid system wiring
State – The mental state of the user immediately preceding and during use
Because the latter two factors are specific to each individual, I will focus on dosage, which is relatively controllable. You will notice that the recommended dosages typically vary with each consumption method.
Before I get started, please keep in mind that it is difficult to provide exact recommendations from a strain selection and dosage perspective as each person's endocannabinoid system responds to cannabis in a slightly different manner. Furthermore, the same strain (bred from same parents) may have different phenotypes (children that show different traits). Thus, the current batch of ‘Sour Diesel’ you purchased may have a significantly different cannabinoid composition than the last, despite having the same strain name. Because cannabis remains illegal nationally, the research and genetic testing needed to regulate cannabis as medicine has yet to be implemented. However, my dosage guide will help you establish a baseline for how much to use the first time you smoke a joint, eat an edible, use a patch, drop a tincture, or take a dab.
As a general rule, start slow, you can always consume more. Dosage will become easier as you become familiar with your personal tolerance and you get familiar with all the essential smoking accessories you may need to use. Please also keep in mind that if you're visiting colorado for a "weedcation", you you should brush up on the effects of smoking weed at high altitude.
Because the effects of smoking cannabis can be felt almost instantly, dosage control is relatively easy compared to other consumption methods. For novice smokers, one or two inhalations from a joint, pipe, blunt, or bong is all it takes to feel THC's powerful effects. Those with higher tolerances will likely require several more 'hits' to achieve the same effects.
When it comes to joints, sizes generally range from 0.25 to 1+ grams as indicated in the image above. The quarter gram joint is best suited for light smokers, while the 1 gram joint will suffice for heavy smokers and larger groups.
Bowl sizes (of both bongs and pipes) typically vary from 0.25 to 1+ grams as shown in the image above. Smaller one hitters like the one below are best suited for personal use while larger bowls are great for groups.
Those with high tolerances can always load several small bowls. You should never feel pressured to finish a bowl or joint, you can always come back to it! On the other hand, if you're looking for a stronger effect, just keep inhaling. Learn how to pack your one hitter or light a bowl without burning your fingers here.
Vaporization involves heating cannabis buds or concentrates to a specific temperature, causing the cannabinoids stored in the plant’s trichomes to evaporate into a gas without combusting any plant material. Similar to smoking, the effects of vaporization can be felt immediately. Thus, I recommend starting with just a couple inhalations from a vaporizer for novice consumers. Once again, seasoned users will require a larger number of hits to achieve the same effect. If you're new to vaporizers, I have two separate guides for the popular styles. If you have a concentrate pen, check out my how to load a vape pen guide. For flower pens that simply use ground cannabis, explore my how to pack a dry herb vape pen guide.
The chamber capacity, whether for flowers or concentrates, varies with each vaporizer; therefore, it is difficult to quote an average size. I suggest filling vaporizer chambers to 3/4 of their full capacity, regardless of make or model, allowing for steady airflow and less likelihood of overfilling. Did you know it's now legal to take your vape pen on a plane?
Edibles and Ingestible Oils
Edibles are cannabis infused varieties of food and drink. Because the cannabinoids in edibles are absorbed through the gastrointestinal (GI) tract, the onset time is delayed (30 to 90+ minutes) relative to other consumption methods. The delayed onset time makes dosage control slightly more difficult as relief will not be felt immediately. On the other hand, the psychoactive effects of edibles last longer and are much more intense than other consumption methods. The following dosage suggestions pertain to THC infused edibles (the most popular) as opposed to non-psychoactive varieties (like CBD infused).
For new consumers, I recommend you start with 1-5mg of THC. Everyone's metabolism is different and therefore has a different reaction to edibles. The important part is to WAIT after you ingest as onset can take up to two hours. As you become more familiar with your edible tolerance, it will be easier to adjust dosage. For occasional consumers, I recommend 5-10mg of THC. In the state of Colorado, 10mg is considered a single serving size. Frequent consumers (those with high tolerances and/or medical needs), will likely need dosages in excess of 10+mg of THC. Start with a low dose and be patient – you can always eat more or supplement with another consumption method! Pro tip: Drink lots of water, it's important to stay hydrated when ingesting edibles.
A tincture is a liquid cannabis concentrate that is typically administered sublingually with a dropper. A few (2-4) drops of the cannabinoid-rich liquid under the tongue is often a sufficient starting dose. The effects will be felt within roughly 15 minutes. Feel free to use more or stop as the situation indicates.
Transdermal cannabis patches are sold in varying strengths, typically ranging from 10 to 20mg of cannanbinoids. Once the patch is applied, the bloodstream begins to absorb the cannabinoids and the effects can be felt within 15 to 60 minutes. I recommend starting with a lower strength patch and upping the dosage if needed. Pro tip: Apply the patch to a veinous part of the body for superior absorption into the bloodstream.
Cannabis infused topicals are applied directly to the skin for localized relief of pain and inflammation. Because they are non-psychoactive, you run little risk of overdoing it. I suggest starting with a few sprays and applying more as desired.
Dabbing is a form of flash vaporization where a dose of cannabis concentrate is dropped onto a heated nail and inhaled. Cannabis concentrates are extremely potent and the effects of taking a dab can be felt almost instantly. While concentrates are typically purchased in gram or half gram increments, a single dose is often times much smaller as indicated in the image above. I recommend trying it! Start with a small dab, roughly the size of a grain of rice, and taking more as needed.
Managing your stash
As cannabis increases in potency, the associated accessories and odors can be a dead giveaway of recent use. In order to maintain discretion and keep your favorite smoking accessories like vape pens protected, I recommend investing in a smell proof stash case.
- Consider your personal usage and current state of mind before choosing the dosage
- Smoking, vaping, and dabbing will trigger the quickest uptake
- Edibles, patches and tinctures will provide a longer lasting dose