Start Low, Go Slow: Cannabis Dosing

Feb 23, 2022 | Blog, Budtender, News

As a budtender, your customers and patients are going to have a wide range of questions about different methods of ingesting cannabis and dosing guidelines. In many cases, they may turn to you for counsel rather than to their own doctor or nurse practitioner. This is because many primary care physicians, pharmacists, and other health specialists are either ill-equipped to provide guidance on cannabis-specific health matters, or simply unwilling to do so.

Your customers’ visit to the dispensary may be their first face-to-face communication with any professional, or perhaps anyone at all, regarding their desire to consume cannabis. Keep in mind, even in legal jurisdictions, longstanding cultural stigmas surrounding cannabis and cannabis consumers continue to exist, making many people reluctant to talk about the subject even with trusted friends and family. In short, many of your clients may turn to you for answers they have been unable to find elsewhere. 

Here are some things to keep in mind as you field questions from your customers and patients:

Mind Your Role

You are a budtender. You are not a stand-in for your customers’ medical team. You are not a physician. You are not a pharmacist. Therefore, you should not be providing any sort of explicit medical opinions or treatment advice, even if your customers are seeking it. Rather, your role is to provide your customers with a basic understanding of cannabis’ effects and dosing considerations across the variety of cannabis products available so that, ultimately, they can make their own informed decisions.

Flower First

Inexperienced cannabis consumers are most likely to be familiar with, and therefore most comfortable with, the idea of inhaling herbal cannabis. Consumers who are somewhat new to cannabis arguably ought to be advised to begin with a relatively low-THC cultivar or a cultivar that contains relatively equal ratios of CBD to THC. CBD is acknowledged to be able to offset some of THC’s more psychoactive effects, including anxiety and paranoia. In addition, there are clinical studies that demonstrate the efficacy of cannabis for certain conditions, including pain, even when subjects use varieties of cannabis containing relatively low percentages of THC (e.g., below 2 percent). The attainment of euphoric effects is not necessarily required to obtain therapeutic benefits.

Start Low, Go Slow

Both adult use consumers and patients seeking symptomatic relief should be encouraged to utilize the “start low, go slow” principle if they are relatively new to cannabis. Novice consumers should be encouraged to inhale small doses at first, and then wait for several minutes for the onset of effects, before inhaling any additional quantities — a.k.a ‘the start low, go slow’ principle. 

Save the Sauce

Edibles are increasingly popular and discreet, but can pose risks for novice users. Since the effects associated with oral administration tend to be less predictable and longer-lasting, such products may be inappropriate, at least initially, for less experienced consumers. Similarly, the elevated potency and enhanced effects associated with concentrates make them largely inappropriate for novice consumers and/or those with limited experience, as their dramatic and potentially dysphoric effects could be off-putting. As patients become more experienced with the effects of herbal cannabis, they may wish to explore options like vaporization or edible formulations.

Recommend Research

You should not give medical advice to your customers and patients, but you should stay abreast of the latest cannabis research so you can cite studies and refer patients to reliable resources. In addition to PubMed, some websites worth reviewing include, the International Association of Cannabinoid Medicines, and the University of California Center for Medicinal Cannabis Research.

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Oaksterdam University’s Budtending Certification Program offers everything you need to know to become a budtending professional. Earn your Oaksterdam credentials at your own pace, or in our new Budtending LIVE course. Learn more or speak to an advisor now. 



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