This article first appeared in Muse by Clio on June 23, 2020.
Cannabis in 2020 can be very confusing, even for a seasoned user.
Twenty-five years ago, when you asked if someone had any weed, everyone just assumed you were asking about smoking a joint. Sometimes your buddy would offer up a hash joint (vs. weed). Nobody called it “flower” (we didn’t call it cannabis, either) or distinguished between different formats … there were no formats! And it was all “recreational use.” Nobody spoke seriously about consuming weed for medicinal purposes. You smoked a joint or from a pipe. Sometimes a bong. If you had hash, hot knives or bottle tokes were possibilities. Hash oil was around, too, and sometimes you may have rolled all three together—weed, hash and hash oil. Every once in a while, someone got creative and baked cookies or brownies. But that was about it. Pretty simple.
With the simplicity of limited options came the knowledge of how much to smoke … and yes, it was always to smoke. There were no vapes and relatively limited opportunities to eat it. And for the most part, the action of smoking a joint had a reliable and understood reaction—you got high. Sometimes a bit too high, but usually you had a pretty good idea of how you would feel from smoking with your buddies. It was ritualized among my friend group. Some people took just one toke, others hung around to finish it off. Dosage was never discussed, and not really in terms of specific quantities.
Fast forward to today. Cannabis consumers have literally hundreds of choices with regards to how to take cannabis into (even onto) their bodies. But with this plethora of options—vapes, gummies, cookies, chocolates, tinctures, lotions, creams, capsules, infusions, beverages and yes, even basic “flower”—dosage is a significant challenge. How much should I take to get the right and desired effect?
All stakeholders—government, industry and consumers—need to get dosage figured out if cannabis is to play a responsible and safe role in more people’s lives. Government wants cannabis to be consumed safely and in moderation, not unlike the alcohol model. The cannabis industry understands that if you end up consuming way too much the first time, you probably won’t use that new format again.
And everyone I know has a bad edibles story. Because onset time is much slower than smoking, inexperienced users often take too much before they start to feel the effects. And consuming an edible, whether it’s a beverage, cookie, gummy or a gel cap, is usually a multi-hour commitment.
What is the answer? Go slow and invest some time.
Cannabis can be a wonderful recreational and/or medicinal drug that plays a positive role in your life, but it takes time to sort out the best way to consume it for your individual situation. It’s not necessarily about getting “so baked” that you are comatose on the couch. The “pothead” stereotype hasn’t helped the category over the years. Cannabis can be a great way relax, chill and take the edge off, especially given the unprecedented events in 2020 that are changing our lives.
Find someone you trust and experiment. But go slow—always take less than you think you need. If smoking/vaping, take one hit and let it settle in for 20-30 minutes before you take another puff. With any of the cannabis formats that travel through your gut (like edibles), give it at least 60-90 minutes before you consider reloading. Find a strain and/or brand that you enjoy and see if you can replicate the experience. It’s about finding the dosage that works for you, that you can trust to provide a great experience every time.
Consider this—with many of us working from home, we have some extra time on our hands. More time with family, friends and many of the activities that slow our lives down a bit … cooking, watching Netflix or reading a good book. Cannabis can enhance those experiences and many others. Maybe cannabis can be used to improve the quality of your new WFH life.