Microdosing Is How the Future Consumes Marijuana

Potency caps and precision labeling are driving the low-dosing trend in weed.

Microdosing was a dominant trending topic this past holiday season—at family gatherings, work soirees, Nordstrom checkout lines, everywhere. The notion of going about your daily business while stealth-activated by minimal amounts of marijuana's psychotropic ingredients has apparently moved beyond the modern American worker-consumer's imagination and directly into the bloodstream.

“Microdosing supports elements of homeostasis by delivering a specific formula and consistent amount of cannabinoids that stimulate the endocannabinoid system,” hmbldt’s Chief Science Officer Samantha Miller tells KINDLAND over email.

The California-based company designs vaporizer technology and "targeted formula” extracts it says will deliver predictable results. And microdosing is exactly what it sounds like: Ingesting small amounts of a substance in order to achieve a desired effect. The controlled consumption method is on the rise among cannabis users.

A Starbucks of weed–type experience—where infused cookies purchased in Maine are the same as infused cookies purchased in California––is a dreamy scenario sure.

“A successful microdosing regimen is predicated on a consistent dosage with a reliable formula,” hmbldt’s Miller tells KINDLAND.

“Patients report that the small, controlled dose allows our formulas to be used during the day," says Miller. "It's clearly something that patients are demanding as more and more of them turn to cannabis as a therapeutic alternative to over-the-counter or pharmaceutical options.”

Pharmaceutical drugs, however, come in tightly controlled doses. If patients ingest these medicines without diverting from a doctor-directed prescription, the substances tend to deliver the same results each time––give or take any side effects or pre-existing patient variance.

Precision dosing cannabis is becoming easier, though. Labeling and packaging rules are being written into states' recreational-use and medical-marijuana laws, with the intention of holding producers and brands accountable to the accuracy on the label and consistency of the effects brought on by the products inside.

Still, weed is kind of a wildcard, and eating anything infused with marijuana can be a shot in the dark. For most cannabis products, consumers have little guarantee of buying the "same" weed each time they visit the pot shop. Retailers don't always stock menus with product sourced from the same growers and vendors.

A Starbucks of weed–type experience—where infused cookies purchased in Maine are the same as infused cookies purchased in California––is a dreamy scenario sure, but not entirely workable just yet. Fragmented state-by-state cannabis laws are a barrier to national brand-expansion and product conformity. Also, limited researcher access means that cannabis science has not fully caught up with the needs of consumers who are attempting to dose edibles, concentrates, or flower with a high degree of certainty about potency and terpene mix. 

All that user guesswork could soon be history. More-refined product offerings are hitting the market—such as the Papa & Barkley releaf Transdermal Pain Patch, a CBD-infused water that looks and tastes like any bottled water, and many other marijuana consumables testing at less than 10 percent THC. These offerings, and many weedy goods containing only non-psychoactive cannabidiol (CBD), are catering directly to the rise in micro- and low-dosing.

"Even if you have a very high tolerance, having a product that allows you to dose periodically as opposed to one giant hit is very effective.”

“If you smoke flower, it's very hard to regulate your dosing because potency varies, inhalation varies,” Jon Fernandez of manufacturing and extraction organization Altus Labs tells KINDLAND via email.

Fernandez is the chief commercialization officer of Altus Labs’ parent company Franklin Bioscience. The Altus brand produces tiny swallowable cannabis tablets that it says won’t have the medical-marijuana patient feeling mad-faded, so much as experiencing diminished symptoms. 

“Every single pill is weighed individually to ensure that it varies less than 5 percent,” Fernandez writes. “That's really the biggest key in micro-dosing. Even if you have a very high tolerance, having a product that allows you to dose periodically as opposed to one giant hit is very effective.”

Recognizing consumer demand for not-so-heavy highs, Chris Bennett, regional sales manager of Oakland, California-based Stokes Confections, pegs the uptick in low-dose edible sales to potency limits being placed on cannabis products in recreational markets. In Oregon, for example, a single container of edible products sold to a rec-consumer cannot exceed 50 mg of THC. A container of capsules is capped at 100 mg of THC, broken down into individual servings.

Stokes’s MICROS are dissolvable mints infused with 5 mg of THC. Bennett says the brand’s customers appreciate the MICROS and other “mouth absorbed” products, as opposed to an edible, which must first be digested in order for the consumer to experience the effects of the THC, and tend to unload a more intense “high” than a lozenge or mint might. 

“The amount of requests we’re getting for low-dose products is increasing,” Bennett tells KINDLAND. He sees the low-dose category as an untapped market: “Many experienced cannabis users might stay away from edibles because of a previous bad experience. But responsible, accurate dosing is bringing in a lot of first-time users as well. It’s easier and less frightening to eat something than it is to smoke it.”

Kristi Knoblich of California edibles maker Kiva Confections told Business Insider that her company sees the bulk of the low-dosing demographic as similar to “that person looking for a glass of wine or beer in the evening [type] experience. We're looking for that person who isn't looking to get blasted.” Kiva produces its own low-dose edible product, Kiva Terrabites. 

Low-dosing your edibles may not take you to the moon, not all in one shot at least. But you will be fully possessed of what it takes to reach for the stars, and that's why the micro-dosing trend might be indicative of how we will do weed in the future.