Written by Features Writer, Jeff Klingman
Despite growing education around cannabis, “It’s not your father’s pot!” has lingered as a common warning from Boomers scared off by modern high-potency products. Harping on super-strong weed is counterproductive, though, keeping many would-be consumers away for fear of being reduced to a paranoid puddle after a few stray bites of space cake. The future growth of the cannabis market might depend on educating consumers to the efficacy and availability of low-dose goods. (“Low-dose” here being broadly defined as containing under 10 mg of THC, made with non-psychoactive CBD, or a combination of both.)
Merely getting a wider range of consumers acclimated to regularly buying more cannabis might be value enough for folks looking to make big profits in the industry, but there are many more reasons to choose low-dose products over the super strong THC bombs that dominate dispensary shelf space.
Here are five key uses for lower-dosages that are becoming a much bigger deal.
At the highest levels of potency, cannabis can exacerbate depression symptoms or induce lethargy. At low doses it’s a different story, producing increased, rather than decreased serotonin in the brain. And while other pharmaceutical antidepressants might come with harmful side effects like weight gain or nausea, THC use is less complicated (and alternative delivery systems like edibles, capsules, or tinctures can even save your lungs the strain). This is particularly relevant given the alarming rise of depression across all major demographics in the United States.
In treating anxiety, high levels of THC can be bad news, supercharging the condition instead of chilling it out. The boom in no-stone CBD infusions, for everything from hand lotion to your morning latte, is a tacit sign that getting mega-baked is not the most efficient way to calm down. While formal clinical proof lags here, specialty brands like Mondo Meds have emerged, touting proprietary combos of low-THC, CBD, and specifically suited strains that treat anxiety with much less risk than a Xanax script. And quick absorption rate of cannabis products means its effects take hold much sooner than most meds, making them useful for treating acute flare ups.
Anecdotally, marijuana has been a commonly-used balm for veterans suffering from post-traumatic stress for multiple decades and numerous wars. Officially, the FDA just launched its first actual study into the truth of that assumption this past May. Patients were given up to 2 grams a day (a couple joints, give or take) but signs suggest very few actually needed anywhere close to that amount to get by. In addition, regular microdoses (defined as under 1 mg THC) applied to inmates suffering from PTSD has shown promise for treating insomnia and nightmares rooted in deep, traumatic experience.
A lot of folks are having trouble sleeping at night. Over 50 million Americans suffer from sleep disorders, a wide enough swath of the populace that the Center for Disease Control considers insufficient sleep a “public health epidemic.” While it’s no great surprise that weed can knock you out, the how’s and why’s are coming into ever clearer view. The key to using small doses of cannabis to ease sleep troubles lies in understanding the levels of cannabinol, or CBN, a product contains. CBN tends to rise as cannabis ages, so older pot works better. High turnover at dispensaries means a regular old fat bowl-full might not do the trick as well as specifically targeted micro-dose products like CBN-enriched patches, or THC-less insomnia chews.
Using cannabis to improve your long-term memory flies in the face of every piece of pop-cultural pot wisdom we’ve ever been shown. (Dude, There’s My Car, as Expected, has a much different ring.) But there’s some counter-intuitive clinical support to suggest that regular microdoses of cannabis might actually restore cognitive functioning in aging patients’ brains. At least that’s been proven among German lab mice exposed to low-level THC. While it’s a tad premature to extrapolate that finding over to non-whiskered heads, research results suggesting CBD as a possible balm for Alzheimer’s sufferers have also given reasons for hope.
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