Last year, John Adams, a friend of the family, was diagnosed with cancer who had severe visceral pain. We knew weed could help. What we did not realize was how much to give him. The periods that followed were shaped by trial and error—sometimes, we hit it. He encountered a few lucid, pain-free hours of relief, and other times, we got it wrong, leaving him lethargic, concerned, and disoriented. The encounter crystallized the need for a safe baseline from which we could discover the exact dosage for him.
As the market for cannabis soars, so too does the need for precise guidelines directing its use. Cannabis is powerful medicine, and as a drug, it requires a framework that decreases harm. Regulated dosing may be the foundation of such a structure.
At present, the remedial cannabis landscape is identified by difference. There are countries with varying levels of medical cannabis businesses and other countries with none. Doctors who are well-versed in medical marijuana’s specificities and doctors who are unaware of the existence of the endocannabinoid system.
There is also clinical analysis that details the effectiveness of cannabis in healing distinct ailments, but with sweeping variations in the doses of THC or CBD that have been applied. Understanding what composes a regular dose can be tricky.
For a long time, the suggested adage for those studying with cannabis medicine has been to “start low, go slow.” Nevertheless, a shift is afoot with calls for standardized THC units for clinical and research purposes.
Why a regular dose is needed for cannabis
While there is an impressively different array of cannabis products and administration methods available today—edibles, vapes, flower, concentrates—each often has varying THC concentrations. An article from 2019 published in Addiction affirms the need for standard THC units, particularly across distinct administration methods.
Standardizing dosage promotes safer patterns of use. It is not a different proposal. Plans to regulate cannabis dosing have been floated before: including cannabis in grams, for example, or having conventional joints. Problematically, neither perfectly captures the differing strengths of THC that may be present in goods like an edible, dab, blunt and joint. All have varying quantities of THC, as do various flower strains.
To defeat this shortfall, the above research’s authors suggested a 5 mg standard THC unit for all cannabis products across all administration methods. Such an advance echoes the way customers have been taught to experience alcohol.
A 5 mg application can deliver significant effects regardless of the administration route while reducing the risk of excessive or unpleasant effects for newbie customers. Standard dosing guidelines will also help customers to determine the number of regular doses in each product.
Research already implies that labels listing the number of doses in a commodity are more effective in communicating knowledge than those listing THC in milligrams only.
Regulated dosing for investigation proposals
The National Institute on Drug Abuse has formed the Cannabis Policy Workgroup that has recognized the improvement of regulated units of a dose as one of its best research advantages. According to NIDA spokespeople, Nora Volkow and Susan Weiss, “A regulated test for THC content in cannabis merchandise are needed to advance research on the adverse effects of cannabis and the possible medical uses.”
Regulating THC units may offer more overall clarity into following current differences in cannabis research. Especially concerning its impact on brain evolution, cannabis use disorders, psychoses and addiction.
According to Volkow and Weiss, contemporary and preceding studies exploring the results of cannabis on the brain development and cognition of children and teenagers often exclude essential parts about the THC content of the goods applied.
While some study points to adverse events after a single exposure to cannabis, other investigations show no variations with regular exposure. A lack of knowledge about THC content may present discrepancies in research results. Case in point: Several meta-analyses or methodical studies of cannabis medication often report contrasting decisions.
Why is it so critical to get THC dosing correct.
Today’s weed is not what it used to be. It is no mystery that THC concentration has been advancing regularly since the ’70s, presenting that cannabis has increased intoxicating effects than ever before.
Although growing numbers of perceptive consumers are exploring for an experience. They do not want this experience that does not leave them rolled up in a ball powerless to move, THC-rich strains are still universal. The University of Mississippi accumulated 18,108 samples over a decade with the support of NIDA. They found that finding that the mean concentration of cannabis increased from 8.9% in 2008 to 17.1% in 2017. Various European countries documented heightened levels as well. Heightened THC potency has been connected to dependence and has also been linked with more critical adverse effects.
What is more, THC enacts opposing outcomes at different doses, a phenomenon known as bidirectional effects. Analysis has revealed that high doses of THC can develop confusion, anxiety and depression. In opposition, lower doses can conversely decrease the perception of stress, anxiety and distress.
Comparable results have been seen with THC and vomiting. Small doses can ease symptoms, but prolonged high doses can cause a disease called cannabinoid hyperemesis syndrome. These problematic, intense bouts of crippling abdominal pain and vomiting. Enjoying the benefits of cannabis has to offer hinges on making the dosage right.
An expert shows in on regulated dosing.
According to Dr. Jordan Tishler, Instructor of Medicine at Harvard Medical School and a cannabis medication expert at Green Flower Media, a 5 mg unit dosage is perfect for both clinical situations and research.
“Most medications have a unit dose and starting dose, and then they are used in multiples of that dosage as required,” described Tishler. “A regularized medicine might come in 5 mg, 10 mg, 20 mg, and 40 mg doses. These dosages based on experimentation that established the unit dose originally and then explained that the unit dose was accurate and that multiples were improving effectiveness.”
Tishler asserts that in his clinical practice, 5 mg represents a relevant baseline. “Nevertheless, a fixed unit dosage does not mean that that will be the only dosage available, or that subjects must be compelled to only that dosage. It is a way of normalizing analysis or clinical use so that decisions can be reliable and predictable,” he explained
Tishler agrees that a regulated unit dose will work across all distribution methods. Nevertheless, how does that work for vaping or smoking? How do consumers ensure that each pull is a 5 mg dose when inhaling?
“In my work, I sometimes prescribe cannabis treatment by inhalation—atomization of flower only, no oil pens or smoking,” stated Tishler. “In this state, which is the most challenging to control, you can use a particular level of THC in flower, 15-20%. The methodology of using a puff—a slow, full puff in—to get a unit dosage that’s fairly certainly 5 mg.”
Tishler seems not to see any disadvantages compared with a move to standardize dosing for research purposes. “It is not all that often that I agree with NIDA, but this standardization is what we want now to support experimentation and have more broadly applicable outcomes.”
Regulating doses of other cannabinoids
Regulating THC units may also improve our understanding of the effects of different cannabinoids. “If the THC level is a constant, then we are better able to discern the effects of the medication that are not THC-related, maybe,” explained Tishler. “Eventually, as those distinct cannabinoids are better known, they too will need to be regulated.”
The 2019 Addiction study hinted that regulated CBD doses might also be supported in the future. With the current CBD market, evaluating its health impacts and providing a standardized dosing plan makes total sense.
What is more, CBD has been revealed to mitigate some of the impairments affiliated with THC, without detrimentally influencing its beneficial traits. A regulated CBD dose could feasibly provide higher doses of THC more predictable and user-friendly. Furthermore, who does not like a little more predictability in these uncertain times?