Everyone’s body (and endocannabinoid system) is slightly different, which is why it’s so difficult to answer the “what should my dose be?” question. The answer depends on a number of factors, including the strain you’re consuming, the consumption method you’re using, your tolerance, your size, and your metabolism. Let’s take a closer look at how these circumstances impact your cannabis experience.
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What impacts the cannabis consumption experience?
Each strain has its own unique cannabinoid profile as well as its own specific terpene profile. When these cannabinoids are consumed together, which contain varying amounts of not only THC or CBD, but trace quantities of any of the other 111 known cannabinoid compounds, along with that unique blend of terpenes, the consumer experiences what’s called the entourage effect. That’s why every strain feels and tastes slightly different, and why you might not experience a full therapeutic range of effects when using an isolate product, like distaillate. Full spectrum cannabis, like flower, kief, solventless concentrates like ice-water hash and rosin, as well as trim and even sugarleaf and stems are a much better choice because they contain the full slate of benefits the plant has to offer.
If you’re consuming in a comfortable, familiar environment, you may experience cannabis completely differently than you would in a new or uncomfortable place. If you’re only used to smoking or consuming quietly in your bedroom in order to relax but then decide to go to a museum or art gallery when you’re high, for example, it can suddenly seem like your boots are a bit too loud and stomp down when you take each step, your breathing is weirdly recognizable, and you think everyone around you knows that you’re high. From your bedroom, you might not necessarily have the same feelings of paranoia, even with the same strain and dose, because your setting is a major contributor to your cannabis experience.
Your emotions also play a part in the cannabis consumption experience. You’ll likely experience the same strain of cannabis slightly differently if you’re going through a breakup vs. when you’re celebrating a new job, for example. The mindset you bring to the experience makes all the difference. If you consume before a brainstorm, you might feel ultra creative and productive for a long time, where smoking prior to a stressful call might completely blow your high.
Since everyone is slightly different, and everyone feels ingested cannabis differently, our experience actually comes back to our DNA. A gene called CYP2C9 is responsible for turning cannabinoids (among other things) into usable materials for the body. This gene and the enzyme it subsequently produces come in three variations: CYP2C9 AA, CYP2C9 AC and CYP2C9 CC. Folks with the AA variation usually have issues feeling the effects of ingested cannabis overall, which is why some people don’t feel the effects of edibles as their genetic code converts the cannabinoids into waste prior to hitting the bloodstream. The AC variation is somewhere in the middle, while folks with the CC variation feel the most impact from ingested cannabis.
Tolerance is when your body and brain get used to a compound and requires more of that substance to feel that initial effect. THC activates CB1 receptors in the brain. After repeated use, anywhere between a few consecutive days to a few weeks of use, the brain slows down CB1 activity and doesn’t give you the same punch for the same quantity of cannabinoids. You can easily give your mind and body a reset with a tolerance break, which after just two weeks, can return your receptors back to normal.
Methods of Consumption
You will generally feel the effects of inhaled cannabis within 2-10 minutes of consumption. It first hits the lungs, then the bloodstream, and it lasts, on average, about 1-3 hours.
When you eat your cannabis, in the form of edibles, capsules, or a swallowed tincture, it can take anywhere from 30 minutes to 3 hours to kick in. Although you usually feel most of the experience around the 2 hour mark, an edible high can last for a whole day, and can sometimes result in a mild groggy feeling the next day. Note that as cannabis moves through the liver, it is metabolized into 11 hydroxy THC, which can have varying effects on the individual. Due to the issues with oral consumption and the resulting first-pass metabolism involved, people who are not satisfied with oral consumption often seek sublingual, vaginal, or rectal methods of consumption.
Consuming cannabis sublingually is usually done with an alcohol or oil-based tincture. Many consumers opt for this method, which involves holding the product under the tongue for about a minute before swallowing, because it has an onset time of about 10-15 minutes and can last for a few hours.
Topical application of an infused cream, salve, balm, or oil, results in absorption through the body’s largest organ, the skin. When cannabinoids are applied topically, they don’t result in psychoactive effects, just localized relief in joints and muscles. However, be careful, as THC lotions, bath soaks and other topical applications can inadvertently make contact with mucous membranes and enter the bloodstream. There are also specific topicals, like transdermal patches, that have ingredients designed to penetrate the skin and enter the bloodstream
Vaginal or Rectal
Suppositories are an excellent method for delivering cannabinoids into the bloodsteam and providing localized therapy for the lower half of the body, without having to go through the digestive system. With a varying time of onset, from 15 minutes to an hour, the intensity of the effect is also related to placement, with further insertion often linked to more intense psychoactive effects.
Calculating Your Dose
Decarboxylation: Using Ardent technology means you’ll activate 97-100% of your plant material, as compared to other decarb methods that average only 60%. Check the label on your cannabis to determine the percentage of THCa present in your starting material. Now here’s the science: In order to convert THCa into biolaviable THC, the acid molecule (the “a” of the THCa) is removed during decarboxylation. That acid molecule is 13% of the THCa molecule’s weight. So in order to find the maximum total amount of THC possible in your flower after decarboxylation, multiply the amount of starting THCa by .87%. Sometimes, in dispensary cannabis, the calculation is already made on the back of the label (in Washington DC, for example) so if you see a final THC % on the back of your flower, that number is the max THC potential of that flower, though the flower itself actually contains THCa that will need to be decarbed before you use it for edibles, topicals or other products.
Once you know the total amount of THC that your plant has, move the decimal point one space to the right. That number is the amount of maxium THC per gram after precision decarb with Ardent. Check out our Dosing Guide for more information on understanding the potency of your starting material.
With older methods of decarb such as the oven, toaster oven, and crock pot, you need to account for about 30-40% additional loss in your final product due to the unstable heating conditions and environmental deterrents. Understandably, the outcome dose can become very unclear and inconsistent when decarbing and infusing outside of an Ardent device, which is why we embarked on the scientific testing and development of these amazing lab-grade devices for the home that let you get more out of material every time. Find comparisons of the different decarb methods and see how they impact your final product dosage here.
Once you’ve decarbed in Ardent FX, Mini or Nova, you can place the decarbed flower right into your food and use it sublingually. You get the absolute most out of this “instant edible” method. If you do want to infuse, be sure to use a high fat oil or butter, or an alcohol. Cannabinoids bind best with fat and alcohol, so if you want to extract the maximum amount (90+%), make sure to choose the right medium. Check out our guides on infusing into oils and alcohol in our education section.
The best part of all is that you can make custom doses by activating and blending different strains with varying ratios of THC, CBD, CBG, CBC (or any of the other cannabinoids) in order to personalize the experience for yourself or your family and friends. The blends can be used together in food directly or infused all together at the same time into your favorite butters, oils and more. There’s no limit to what you can create and the variety you can achieve with Ardent. Make anything you need and stretch your supply!