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RESEARCH Cannabis Dosage Guide – How to Accurately Measure THC Levels

January 16, 2019

 

Most Americans are familiar with the dosing procedures of a pain killer like Tylenol or Aspirin. This familiarity allows them to self-medicate without speaking to a pharmacists, and to plan their pain relief according to their lifestyle. Few marijuana patients enjoy this security, though many of them desperately need it.

 

Dosing is the most important aspect of any cannabis treatment program. Whether your intention is to combat a rising tolerance, maintain precise blood levels through microdosing, or control a changing pain level throughout the day, dosing is the variable which holds the key to success.

 

Dosing is also one of the aspects of cannabis consumption that is the least understood.  

 As lab quality cannabis products replace the dubious products of the cannabis fringe markets, the goal of reliable dosing has left the realms of eventual possibility and become something that even a casually educated home user can master.

 

Three Ways to Find Out How Much THC Is In Your Weed

 

1. Get It Tested At A Lab

The most accurate ways to know the chemical compounds present in your plant material is to send it away to be tested via HPLC. This time-intensive process can be done on as little of 0,1g of material of material. This is the testing procedure used by many cannabis producers, extractors, and manufacturers who must verify the content of their products before they are made available for sale.

 

High Performance Liquid Chromatography (HPLC) is a method of compound analysis which can identify and quantify the individual elements found within a sample. It is currently the gold standard in all fields which make use of analytical chemistry, including the marijuana industry.

Long term patients may be aware that HPLC replaced Gas Chromatography and Mass Spectrometry as the industry standard in cannabis lab testing. HPLC can identify both volatile and nonvolatile compounds present in a sample. 

Among other things, this makes it a more accurate testing method, which is particularly important in an industry where unknown pesticides are regularly discovered. This is the sort of testing procedure available at your local lab. We highly encourage patients to seek out their local labs and get their material tested, particularly if they regularly consume the same cannabis.  

 

2. Test It Yourself At Home

There are various kits on the market which purport to produce reliable THC test results at home.

We recommend:

https://www.mydxlife.com

https://tcheck.me

Both have many consumers and producers who swear by their results. Keep in mind that these tests do not meet the legal standard in most states if you are producing products for sale. We encourage patients to do their research and ensure that any lab they work with is using the most up-to-date testing procedures available.  

 

3. Make an Educated Guess

Most cannabis flower has a THC level between 10-20%, with the average strain grown under good conditions coming in around 15-17%.

Kief and the related variations of hash tends to have a much greater THC percentage, coming in between 35-55%. Kief itself tends to be on the low end of this spectrum, while refined products like Bubble Hash tend to test towards the top.

Concentrated extracts like shatter, budder, and rosin tend to have even higher THC concentrations between 60-80%. Note that blonder concentrates tend to be stronger than darker concentrates, and more translucent products like sap and rosin are often stronger than more opaque products like budder and wax.

 

Calculating Your THC Dosage in MG

Once you know your THC %, we can do some simple math to calculate the mg of THC per gram.

Simply move the decimal in the THC percentage one place to the right. The resulting number reflects the milligrams of THC present in one gram of your material  

 

For Example:

  • If your cannabis has a 20% THC count

  • 20% = 20.0

  • Move the decimal place one place to the right

  • 20.0 = 200

  • 200 mg THC per gram

What does this mean for you?

Many patients who medicate throughout the day do so with a THC dosage around 20 mg per dose. This dose would normally require a fairly high volume of cannabis if you are using imprecise decarboxylation or you are consuming your cannabis in inefficient ways.

For example, it is estimated that upwards of 70% of available THC is lost in the process of smoking cannabis in joint form.

With fully decarboxylated weed, a 20mg dose can be achieved with one tenth of a gram of cannabis (assuming the starting material has a THC concentration of 20%). This is a very small amount of material which is easily managed.

This reduction in costs is life changing for patients who have previously needed to use large amounts to get the same results. At effective doses this small, it becomes easy to slip the cannabis into fun treats and regular meals, without ever having to worry about an overwhelming taste.  

 

Weigh Your Dose 

Once you know the THC content of your material, proper dosing is as simple as weighing out the amount of plant material that contains the amount of THC you’re looking for. Long term cannabis patients who are new to the process of total decarboxylation will be stunned to realize how little plant material they can consume with this new potency.  

100mg THC is a maximum dose size in many states where legal medical cannabis is sold. This amount is often spread across several cookies or candies. Because the Nova provides complete decarboxylation, there is no need for so much volume, even in baked goods.  

For Example:

  • It is very common for professionally grown cannabis to reach THC  levels of 20%

  • Flower with 20% THC levels has a THC concentration of 200mg per gram

  • This means that a patient who fully decarboxylates this material can achieve a standard medical dose using only 0.5g of  plant material   

As always, the key to efficient dosing is total decarboxylation 1/ of whatever plant material you’ve chosen. 

 

1/Comparison of Oven, Toaster Oven, and Nova Decarb

When it comes to decarboxylating cannabis, there’s a lot of false information out there.

Sample testing from Nova development stage comparing traditional forms of decarb with precision activation.

Raw Cannabis Max Potential THC: 18.1%

Oven Decarb 240F for 40 minutes Max Potential THC: 15.3%

Toaster Oven Decarb 220F for 60 Max Potential THC: 12.2%

Nova Prototype Decarb Max Potential THC: 17.9%

The testing above demonstrates how decarboxylatingin the oven and toaster oven leads to significant loss of THC. Results using the same temp settings in a different oven could just have easily shown a failure to fully convert THCA. Both instances lead to waste, through degradation or remaining inactive material, respectively. The overarching point: ovens aren’t constructed to maintain the precision in temp needed for a full and protective decarb, but instead swing above and under the tight parameters required for complete conversion with no loss. While there may be some achieving good results after significant trial and error, monitoring, using high-end ovens in conjunction with temperature probes and follow-up testing (and in some instances not caring that much if they are experiencing some loss), having a simple, fool proof, smell proof device that delivers lab grade decarboxylation is exactly what patients are seeking.

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