What’s the finest quantity for a dose of hashish?
Emma Stone May 8, 2020
Last year my father was diagnosed with cancer that caused severe visceral pain. We knew weeds could help. What we didn't know was how much we should give him. The months that followed were trial and error – sometimes we did and he experienced a few clear, pain-free hours of relief, and sometimes we misunderstood what made him lazy or anxious and confused. Experience crystallized the need for a safe baseline that would help us determine the right dose for him.
As the demand for cannabis increases, so does the need for clear guidelines for its use. Cannabis is an effective medicine and as a medicine requires a framework that minimizes harm. A standardized dosage can be the cornerstone of such a framework.
The therapeutic cannabis landscape is currently characterized by inconsistency. There are states with different degrees of medical cannabis programs and other states without; Doctors who are familiar with the peculiarities of medical marijuana and doctors who are not aware of the existence of the endocannabinoid system.
There are also clinical studies that describe the effectiveness of cannabis in the treatment of specific diseases in detail, but with great differences in the doses of THC or CBD administered. Deriving a standard dose can be difficult to say the least.
For a long time, the recommended saying for those experimenting with cannabis medicine was "start low, go slow". However, a shift is underway as standardized THC units are required for both research and clinical purposes.
Why a standard dose is needed for cannabis
While there is an impressively diverse range of cannabis products and delivery methods today – Food Vapes Blume, concentrates – each often has different THC concentrations. An article from 2019 published in Addiction confirms the need for standard units for THC, especially across different delivery methods.
The standardization of the dosage promotes safer usage patterns. It is not a novel proposal. Applications for the standardization of cannabis dosage have already been made: measuring cannabis in grams or standard joints, for example. The problem is that neither the different THC concentrations that can be present in products are exactly recorded – a joint, blunt, dab and edible, all have different amounts of THC, as well as different flower stems.
To remedy this deficiency, the authors of the above study proposed a 5 mg standard THC unit for all cannabis products for all administration methods. Such an approach reflects the way in which consumers are taught to understand alcohol.
A dose of 5 mg can have significant effects regardless of the route of administration, while minimizing the risk of unpleasant or excessive effects for newbies. Standard dosage guidelines also help consumers determine the number of standard doses in each product.
Research already suggests that labels that show the number of doses in a product are more effective at delivering information than labels that contain THC in milligrams alone.
Standardized dosage for research purposes
The Cannabis Policy Workgroup of the National Institute for Drug Abuse (NIDA) identified the development of standardized dose units as as one of its main research priorities . According to representatives of NIDA Nora Volkow and Susan Weiss “a standardized measurement of the THC content in cannabis products is required to carry out research into both the adverse effects of cannabis and the potential medicinal uses of the drug to advance. "
The standardization of THC units may provide more clarity for understanding current inconsistencies in cannabis research, particularly regarding their impact on brain development, cannabis use disorders, addiction and psychoses.
According to Volkow and Weiss, recent and previous studies examining the effects of cannabis on the brain development and cognition of children and adolescents often exclude relevant details about the THC content of the products consumed.
While some studies indicate adverse events after a single exposure to cannabis, other studies show no differences from the regular exposure. A lack of information about the THC content can lead to discrepancies in research results. A typical example: Many meta-analyzes or systematic reviews of cannabis medicine often report contradicting results.
Why is it so important to get the THC dosage right?
Today's weed is no longer what it used to be . It's no secret that THC levels have risen steadily since the 1970s, making cannabis more intoxicating than ever.
Although more and more discerning consumers are looking for an experience that will not curl up in a ball that cannot move, THC-rich strains are still ubiquitous. With the support of NIDA, the University of Mississippi collected 18,108 samples over a decade and found that the average cannabis concentration rose from 8.9% in 2008 to 17.1% in 2017. Several European countries documented increased values as a good. Increased THC potency has been associated with addiction and has also been associated with major side effects .
What's more, THC performs conflicting results in different doses a phenomenon known as bidirectional effects is known. . For example, research has shown that high doses of THC can increase depression, anxiety and confusion while lower doses can conversely reduce stress, anxiety and the perception of stress.
Similar effects were found in THC and nausea. Small doses can relieve symptoms, but chronically high doses can cause a condition called Cannabinoid Hyperemesis Syndrome which causes intense bouts of vomiting and debilitating abdominal pain. Enjoying the benefits of cannabis depends on the right dosage.
An expert deals with standardized dosing
According to Dr. Jordan Tishler, cannabis medicine expert at Green Flower Media and a lecturer in medicine at Harvard Medical School, a 5 mg unit dose is ideal for both research and clinical situations.
"Most medicinal products have a starting dose or a unit dose and are then used in multiples of this dose as required," explained Tishler. “A conventional medication can be available in tablets of 5 mg, 10 mg, 20 mg and 40 mg, for example. This is based on studies that first defined the unit dose and then showed that the unit dose was correct and that multiples had an increasing effectiveness up to a point. "
Tishler confirmed that, based on his clinical experience, 5 mg are an adequate basis. “However, a fixed unit dose does not mean that this is the only available dose or that patients only need to be restricted to this dose. It's a way to standardize research or clinical use so that the results are predictable and reliable, ”he emphasized.
Tishler agrees that a standardized unit dose applies to all delivery methods. But how does it work when vaping or smoking? How do you make sure you get a 5 mg dose when inhaled?
"In my practice, I sometimes prescribe cannabis use through inhalation – just vaporization of flowers, smoking, or oil pens," said Tishler. "In this case, which is the most difficult to regulate, you can simply use a certain THC level in the flower of 15 to 20% and use the pull-a-slow, full-breath method to get a unit Dose that is fairly reliable 5 mg. "
Tishler also sees no disadvantages in connection with standardizing the dosage for research purposes. "It's not too often that I agree with NIDA, but this standardization is exactly what we need now to promote research and achieve results that are generally applicable."
Standardization of doses of other cannabinoids
Standardizing THC units can also improve our understanding of the effects of other cannabinoids. "If the THC level is constant, we can better see the effects of non-THC drugs," said Tishler. "As these other cannabinoids are better understood, they ultimately have to be standardized."
The study 2019 Addiction indicated that standardized CBD doses could also be recommended in the future. Given the current demand for CBD, it makes sense to assess health effects and provide a standardized dose.
In addition, CBD has been shown to mitigate some of the damage associated with THC without adversely affecting its desirable properties. A standardized dose of CBD could make higher THC doses more user-friendly and predictable. And who doesn't like a bit more predictability in these uncertain times?
Emma Stone is a New Zealand journalist specializing in cannabis, health and wellbeing. She has a Ph.D. in sociology and has worked as a researcher and lecturer, but above all loves being a writer. She liked to spend her days writing, reading, walking outdoors, eating and swimming.