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3 Lessons Learned About the Proper Dosage of Medical Cannabis

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February 04, 2015 9:00 AM

3_Lessons_Learned_About_the_Proper_Dosage_of_Medical_CannabisThere's been a lot of talk in the 21st century about legalizing marijuana for medical use while proper dosage has been an issue that has not gotten as much attention in the media. Canada has left the issue up to doctors whereas in the United States there's almost a sense that it's up to patients themselves. Doctors are learning, however, from the patients themselves, what level of dosage works with respect to the following factors. 

Potency of Various Cannabis Types

If there were just one kind of cannabis plant, doctors would have a much easier time recommending a certain dosage. But the reality is that there are literally thousands of various cannabis strains around the world. Some strains are very potent while others do not have much effect on the mind or body. Additionally there are two separate components of cannabis that have medicinal value: the intoxicating THC chemical that is typically smoked and the non-intoxicating CBD chemical, which is often administered in liquid form. 

Complicating the matter further is that eating cannabis can be much more potent and intoxicating than smoking cannabis. To some degree, you must decide as a patient what your limit of intoxication should be, since it varies among different individuals. For people who do not like the psychoactive effects of getting high, they should limit their serving of a marijuana brownie to a small square, perhaps the size of a few sugar cubes.

Other ways of ingesting cannabis can be through inhaling with a vaporizer and swallowing a capsule form that is manufactured by a pharmaceutical company. Proper dosage levels vary for each form of ingestion, as effects can be felt more quickly from smoking it than eating it while the effects of edible cannabis can last much longer. Experimentation should be gradual for new users. 

Toxicity and Tolerance Levels

Overall, scientists have found cannabis to have low toxicity without much concern about an overdose. It is more likely, for example, that a heavy user of cannabis will simply fall asleep if dosage is excessive. Unlike certain dangerous pharmaceutical drugs, cannabis appears to present not even a minor threat of fatal consequences. Exceptions might be for patients who suffer from heart problems, in which cannabis should simply be avoided, since it can affect heart rate. 

Even though marijuana is not considered physically addictive, the more you use the drug the more tolerance you build, requiring stronger dosage to get the desired effect. While it can be psychologically habitual, casual users do not exhibit many side effects beyond dry mouth and red eyes. Taking a few puffs occasionally is all some people need for reducing stress and other dispositions. 

Measurements for Medical Cannabis, Proper Dosage

Despite all the mysteries surrounding medical cannabis, proper dosage can be measured and over time, there will likely be more definitive standards for dosage. One of the few medical professionals who has published proper dosage amounts is Donald Abrams, MD. He is a Professor of Clinical Medicine at the University of California, San Francisco. He concluded that experienced cannabis smokers can regulate their own dosage in order to achieve the desired effect. He also offered "final dosing recommendations" based on the strength of THC. 

For cannabis with 10 percent THC, Abrams suggests a daily dosage of between .15 to 5.55 grams. As the THC level increases for medical cannabis, proper dosage decreases in grams. Marijuana with 20 percent THC, for example, corresponds with a dosage of .08 to 2.79 grams while 30 percent corresponds with .01 to 1.86 grams. This dosage recommendation is similar to other low toxicity drugs.


Topics: Medical Cannabis, Proper Dosage

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