We would venture to guess that nearly every cannabis user has felt uncomfortably high at some point or another. This feeling typically results from consuming too much THC, whether it’s smoked, vaporized, or ingested orally.
The good news is that this experience can generally be avoided. By following our cannabis dosage guide below, you can prevent that “never coming down” feeling from occurring. It is important to understand that the specific effects of cannabis are generally dependent on three factors:
Dosage – The amount and type of cannabinoids used
Self – Individual physiological differences in the brain and endocannabinoid system wiring between unique consumers
State – The mental and emotional state of the user immediately preceding and during use
Because the latter two factors are specific to each individual and therefore can’t be controlled effectively, we will focus on dosage, which you do have control over. You will notice that the recommended dosages typically vary with each consumption method. This is because different modes of consumption impact the body in different ways — and at different rates!
A Few General Guidelines
Before we get started, please keep in mind that it is difficult to provide exact recommendations from a strain selection and dosage perspective simultaneously, as each person’s endocannabinoid system responds to cannabis slightly differently.
Furthermore, the same strain (bred from the same “parent” plants) may have different phenotypes (“children” that show different traits). Thus, the most recent batch of ‘Sour Diesel’ you purchased may have a significantly different cannabinoid composition than the last, despite having the same strain name.
Because cannabis remains illegal at the federal level, the research and genetic testing needed to regulate cannabis as medicine have yet to be implemented. However, our dosage guide will help you establish a baseline for how much to use the first time you smoke a joint, eat an edible, use a patch, drop a tincture, or take a dab.
As a general rule, start slow. You can always consume more, but it’s hard to bring yourself back down once you’ve flown too close to the proverbial sun. Dosage will become easier as you become familiar with your personal tolerance and you get familiar with all the essential smoking accessories you may need to use.
We also have a CBD Dosage Guide if you are looking for information on using CBD for pain relief. Be sure to check out our CBD Help Guide and learn more about CBD here. In addition to the popular concentrates and vape products, the availability of raw organic hemp flower allows you to consume your dose of CBD in a way that’s fast-acting and more familiar to cannabis consumers.
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Because the effects of smoking cannabis can be felt almost instantly, dosage control is relatively easy compared to other consumption methods. For novice smokers, one or two inhalations from a joint, pipe, blunt, or bong are all it takes to feel THC’s powerful effects. Those with higher tolerances will likely require several more ‘hits’ to achieve the same effects.
When it comes to joints, sizes generally range from 0.25 to 1+ grams (as indicated in the image above). The quarter-gram joint is best suited for light smokers, while the 1-gram joint will suffice for heavy smokers and larger groups.
Bowl sizes (of both bongs and pipes) typically vary from 0.25 to 1+ grams as shown in the image above. Smaller one-hitters like the one below are best suited for personal use, while larger bowls are great for consuming in groups.
Looking for a high-quality pipe, bong or bubbler? We highly recommend Billowby for their outstanding selection and service.
Those with high tolerances can always load several small bowls. You should never feel pressured to finish a bowl or joint, you can always come back to it – it’s not going anywhere!
Vaporization involves heating cannabis buds or concentrates to a specific temperature, causing the cannabinoids stored in the plant’s trichomes to evaporate into a gas without combusting any plant material. Similar to smoking, the effects of vaporization can be felt immediately.
As with smoking, we recommend starting with just a couple inhalations from a vaporizer for novice consumers. Once again, seasoned users will require a larger number of hits to achieve the same effect.
If you’re new to vaporizers, we have a guide to using loose-leaf vaporizers. For flower pens that simply use ground cannabis, explore our how to pack a dry herb vape pen guide.
The chamber capacity of any vape, whether for flowers or concentrates, varies from unit to unit. Therefore, it is difficult to quote a consistent “average size.” We suggest filling vaporizer chambers to 3/4 of their full capacity, regardless of make or model. This allows for steady airflow and reduces your risk of overfilling.
Cool side note: did you know it’s now legal to take your vape pen on a plane?
Edibles and Ingestible Oils
Edibles are cannabis infused varieties of food and drink. Because the cannabinoids in edibles are absorbed through the gastrointestinal (GI) tract, the onset time is delayed (30 to 90+ minutes, depending on your metabolism, what you’ve eaten that day and a number of other factors) relative to other consumption methods.
The delayed onset time makes dosage control slightly more difficult with edibles, as relief will not be felt immediately. Most anyone who’s had an edible has a story about getting “couch-locked” after thinking they weren’t working and taking too high a dose. It’ll likely take some time and experimentation to find the ideal edible dose for you.
That said, the psychoactive effects of edibles last longer and tend to be much more intense than other consumption methods. We’ve said it before, but it bears repeating with edibles: you can always take more, but you can’t take THC out of your body once you’ve put it in. Keep this in mind as you take your edibles.
The following dosage suggestions pertain to THC infused edibles (the most popular) as opposed to non-psychoactive varieties (like CBD infused gummies or tinctures, which we’ll discuss in more detail shortly). For new consumers first trying cannabis edibles, we recommend you start with 1-5mg of THC.
Everyone’s metabolism is different, and therefore everyone has a different reaction to edibles. The important part is to WAIT after you ingest, as onset can take up to two hours. When in doubt, wait it out! As you become more familiar with your edible tolerance, it will be easier to fine-tune your dosage.
For occasional cannabis consumers, we recommend 5-10 mg of THC. In the state of Colorado, 10 mg is considered a single serving size. Frequent consumers (those with high tolerances and/or medical needs), will likely need dosages in excess of 10+mg of THC. Start with a low dose and be patient – you can always eat more or supplement with another consumption method! Pro tip: Drink lots of water, it’s important to stay hydrated when ingesting edibles.
A tincture is a liquid cannabis concentrate that is typically administered sublingually with a dropper. A few (2-4) drops of the cannabinoid-rich liquid under the tongue is often a sufficient starting dose. The effects will be felt within roughly 15 minutes. Feel free to use more or stop as your situation indicates. Tinctures are very effective for medicinal use, especially non-psychoactive CBD tinctures.
Transdermal cannabis patches are sold in varying strengths, typically ranging from 10 to 20mg of cannabinoids. Once the patch is applied, the bloodstream begins to absorb the cannabinoids and the effects can be felt within 15 to 60 minutes. We recommend starting with a lower strength patch and upping the dosage if needed. Pro tip: Apply the patch to a vascular part of the body (one where you can see the veins) for more efficient absorption into the bloodstream.
Cannabis-infused topicals are applied directly to the skin for localized relief of pain and inflammation. Because they are non-psychoactive, you run essentially zero risks of overdoing it. We suggest starting with a few sprays or a thin layer of product, applying more as needed or desired. Our favorite skincare CBD is the Leef Organics Skin Oil – it works wonders – especially combined with their incredible CBD soap!
Dabbing is a form of flash vaporization where a dose of cannabis concentrate (generally a wax or shatter, but potentially a pure isolate) is dropped onto a heated nail and the resulting vapor is inhaled. Cannabis concentrates are extremely potent and the effects of taking a dab, like with most inhaled forms of cannabis, can be felt almost instantly.
While concentrates are typically purchased in gram or half-gram increments, a single dose is often times much smaller, as indicated in the image above. We recommend trying it! Start with a small dab, roughly the size of a grain of rice, and taking more as needed. Did you know you can even dab CBD isolate?
If you enjoy dabbing but don’t like the blowtorch element, you might like the Loto Legend. The high-end, all-electronic rig uses magnetic energy to heat the dab, so you’ll never need to use a propane torch or replace an atomizer again. Perfect for concentrates and isolates alike, the Legend is a dab rig with the soul of a bong.