At present, the therapeutic cannabis landscape is characterized by inconsistency. There are states with varying levels of medical cannabis programs and other states with none; doctors who are well-versed in the specificities of medical marijuana, and doctors who are unaware of the existence of the endocannabinoid system. There’s also clinical research that details the efficacy of cannabis in treating specific ailments, but with sweeping differences in the doses of THC or CBD that have been administered. Deducing what constitutes a standard dose can be tricky, to say the least. For a long time, the recommended adage for those experimenting with cannabis medicine has been to “start low, go slow.” A shift is afoot, however, with calls for standardized THC units for both research and clinical purposes.
Standardizing dosage promotes safer patterns of use. It’s not a novel proposal. Motions to standardize cannabis dosing have been floated before: measuring cannabis in grams, for example, or having standard joints. Problematically, neither accurately captures the differing concentrations of THC that may be present in products—a joint, blunt, dab, and edible all have different amounts of THC, as do different strains of flower. To overcome this shortfall, the above study’s authors proposed a 5 mg standard THC unit for all cannabis products, across all methods of administration. Such an approach echoes the way consumers have been taught to understand alcohol. A 5 mg dose can deliver meaningful effects regardless of the route of administration while minimizing the risk of unpleasant or excessive effects for newbie consumers. Standard dosing guidelines will also help consumers to determine the number of standard doses in each product. Research already suggests that labels listing the number of doses in a product are more effective in conveying information than those listing THC in milligrams alone.