Less is more. Less is more. Less is more. Less is more.
This is my new mantra.
When it comes to the number of clothes in my closet, books on my shelf and appointments in my calendar, this principle seems so simple.
It’s easy to see the things that clutter up our lives and make us less effective, to haul piles of clothes to Goodwill and pots and pans to a friend’s house.
Once you start living with less, it’s obvious that giving ourselves the gift of more with less leads to a healthier, calmer, and more fulfilling journey. It becomes clear that while we may be conditioned to think that we need more to be happy and effective humans, that’s not really true in practice.
I get it.
So I’m not sure why this same lesson hit me so hard this week: Less is also more when it comes to medicating with cannabis.
While I’ve been on the “start low and go slow” bandwagon for many years and have posted about microdosing in the past, I didn’t really get why microdosing was beneficial and why it’s important for everyone to understand (not just beginners).
You see, I have to microdose marijuana. There’s no other choice for me these days.
About three years ago, after taking a long break from all things cannabis after writing Wake + Bake, my tolerance completely disappeared. I went from ingesting the amount of cannabis it takes to make several cannabis cookbooks in 6 months (i.e. a LOT) to melting into the floor after a 20 mg dose.
The truth is that I get negative side effects when I use a high dose of cannabis. I’ve taken a dab twice and both times were horrific, and if you’ve ever read this blog before, you probably know about what that infamous Hash-Butter Grilled Cheese did to me.
And as someone who exclusively writes about cannabis, I feared the idea that I couldn’t handle bong rips and 100 mg edibles made me totally inauthentic and… well… weak sauce.
The fact that after 8 years of medicating with cannabis, a moderate amount of THC made me paranoid made me feel like there was something wrong with me. And the worry that maybe cannabis eventually wouldn’t work for me anymore was, quite frankly, terrifying.
I started thinking, “How could a plant that has helped me so much for so many years be turning on me?”
And in hindsight, that question is pretty funny.
Because I wasn't defective and cannabis never stopped working for me. It turns out that I'd accidentally given myself a tolerance break and started haphazardly microdosing without even knowing it was a thing.
And yes! It's a thing.
Microdosing: The Minimalist Art of Cannabis Use
Microdosing all boils down to one basic understanding:
Cannabis has a “biphasic nature.” This means that clients will experience an effect from using cannabis at a low dose and lose that effect as they take more, only to reach another response at an even higher dose.
Let’s break that down really quick.
Many cannabis users think that if they take several hits and they aren’t getting the desired effect, they need to take more cannabis.
It makes logical sense. Not working… take more… still not working… take even more.
It’s how a lot of things work in our world. You ate, but you’re still hungry? Eat more. Still thirsty? Drink more. Still tired? Take a nap. Still cold? Put on another sweater.
But, it’s not how cannabis works.
It’s likely that most of you (or your students or clients) are starting off with too high a dose in the first place and they’re missing that sweet spot of cannabis dosing.
While many budtenders and inexperienced cannabis users may tell you to try a new strain or a new method of ingestion, odds are, you just need less.
Less means something different to everyone, and if you need higher amounts of cannabinoids to reduce the size of tumors or help with major neurological issues, it may not be for you. Always talk to a doctor or consult with a functional cannabis therapist to figure out a baseline for microdosing.
Microdosing and “High Tolerance”
And, I know what you’re thinking. You might be saying, “But Corinne, I am one of those people with a high tolerance and less just won’t work for me.”
And maybe that’s true. Maybe you’ve been taking cannabis for a long time and your tolerance to cannabinoids is so high that you require a significant dose in order to get any effect at all.
The issue with this is that, not only are you burning up precious resources and money feeding your high tolerance, you also may not be getting the full benefit of the cannabis you are using.
Even if you don’t turn into an anxious and paranoid emotional wreck after taking a high dose, you may be experiencing other forms of side effects that can keep you from being vibrant, energetic and happy.
It’s something we don't like to address in the cannabis industry because it has taken so long to get beyond the stigma of things like Reefer Madness. But, sometimes, cannabis use can have negative side effects, especially with prolonged use of high dosages.
It’s a powerful medicine and, yes, it’s possible to overdo it.
And even if you're not experiencing direct side effects from taking too much cannabis chronically (see what I did there?), your endocannabinoid system may shift out of balance and your receptors might be shrinking back into your cells to hide from your massive dab seshing. Throwing your endocannabinoid system off could cause a bunch of other seemingly unrelated problems.
Fortunately, there are things folks can do to lower their tolerance, re-sensitize their cannabinoid receptors and regain the myriad of benefits of medicating with cannabis.
I'll be covering tolerance breaks in depth in a later post, but until then here's a simple guide: you can take a 2-3 day break every couple of weeks or a week or two every couple of months to lower your tolerance before microdosing.