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How much is too much? How many should I take? When should I take them?

Questions like these have been asked at dispensaries across North America for nearly two decades – patients seeking relief and looking for answers their doctors just can’t provide. The answer to each one of these questions is invariably muddy, “It depends”. But how do we answer these questions in a recreational market? What should the standards be?

Maureen Dowd’s recent two part series exploring her experience consuming edible Cannabis in Colorado puts these questions front and center. As the legal recreational market grows, reports of this nature are bound to increase.I find the difficulty in exploring standardization around edible cannabis isn’t so much about wrangling a notoriously slippery industry into line – but deciding what we’re actually trying to achieve.
effective-dose-range
Threshold dose  the minimum dose of a chemical, or a drug that will produce a detectable degree of any given effect.
Effective dose that quantity of a drug that will produce the effects for which it is given.
Tolerance dose  the largest quantity of an agent that may be administered without harm.

Cannabis is unique among psychoactive substances because many of the medicinal effects are exerted well below its threshold dose. Likewise on the other side of the spectrum – the tolerance dose for Cannabis is incredibly high – a “medical overdose” is functionally nearly impossible to achieve. At the VCBC we put every member that signs up through an hour long orientation where we discuss the pharmacology of cannabis, each of our products, the risks and signs of over consumption, and what might best work for them. We have designed our products to range from 1.5mg per unit to 30mg per unit to give each member the building blocks of an effective therapeutic regimen. Functionally our products adhere to the mantra, “You can always dose up, you can never dose down”.

The recreational market would do well to adopt some of these standards. Educating consumers about the effects of cannabis, timings of onset, methods of ingestion, and how to best cope with an uncomfortable high. In the race to cram as much THC into Cannabis edibles as possible what is the end result? More experiences like Maureen Dowd’s.

I will border on heresy to some by suggesting this – but maybe we should be looking to the alcohol industry for cues. The lions share of their product sales exist in the median effective dose range (beer & wine) while over proof alcohol is a rare novelty and not the norm. The THC arms race can only serve to alienate the average consumer while destroying a fledgling industries already thin legitimacy.