How much THC should I take?
Whether a person is using cannabis for medical, wellness or recreational purposes, taking the right dose of THC is the most important factor in achieving the desired result. Too little won’t work, and too much can cause side effects, or in some cases, the opposite of the intended effects. We put together this THC dosage guide to help you determine how much you should take and why.
In This Post:
- Finding the right THC dosage for you
- Dosage recommendations by method of delivery
- What about microdosing THC?
- Frequently asked questions about THC dosing
The effects of cannabis vary from person to person depending on each person’s unique internal physiological environment, the quantity and strength of the cannabis, one’s current cannabis use pattern and tolerance level, and the type of product consumed. Genetics, age, gender and even weight can play a role, too. So, there really isn’t one normal dosage of THC that works for everyone.
Some people are under the impression that taking THC will produce euphoria or impairment; this is true, but these effects only occur above a certain threshold dose. Below that threshold, we see other symptom-relieving, performance-enhancing, and health-promoting benefits.
When I started seeing cannabis users in my practice, I was surprised to find that some patients were using very low dosages of THC, like one inhalation daily or very low-dose tincture or edibles, while other patients required much higher dosages, like an entire large joint or potent edibles or orally-administered concentrate to achieve therapeutic benefits.
Over the years, I’ve determined that some of my adult patients experience therapeutic results with minimal to no adverse effects at oral doses as low as 1 mg of THC daily and as high as 1,000 mg or more daily. This is an unusually wide, safe and effective dosing range for any medication! The majority of my patients use 2 mg to 30 mg of THC per dose.
Taking the right dose also depends on the method of administration; cannabis flower or concentrates can be smoked or vaporized, and oral consumption products include tinctures, infused oils, edibles, topicals, drinks, concentrates, and one my favorites, cannabis tea.
So, for best results, you’ll need to choose the right delivery method (or methods, as many successful cannabis users layer more than one for best results), and find your optimal dosage for each.
Why different delivery methods? They’re each different in the speed in which they produce effects and the duration of those effects. For example, inhaling cannabis works the fastest, with an almost immediate onset (usually one to five minutes), but this route of administration has the shortest duration of action (usually two to four hours).
The onset of tinctures and oils that can be held in the mouth are slower than inhalation, but usually faster than edibles (usually within 10 to 45 minutes), with effects that last three to eight hours. Edibles, including capsules, have the slowest onset but provide the longest duration, from four to 12 hours.
How much THC does it take to get high?
Regardless of the delivery method, for most people, the amount of THC needed to feel the psychoactive (mind-changing) properties of THC ranges from about 2.5 mg to 15 mg. People who are new to cannabis or who are sensitive to cannabis may feel the effects at the lower range of 1 mg.
Experienced cannabis users often require more THC because they have developed a tolerance to THC through regular use which means they need more and more THC to get similar effects.
For most people using the oral route of delivery, the amount of THC needed to feel the psychoactive properties of THC ranges from 2 mg to 10 mg. Some people who are very sensitive to THC may feel the effects at 1 mg, while experienced cannabis users may require higher doses if they’ve developed a tolerance to THC.
While we can estimate the milligram amount of THC one consumes when smoking or vaporizing cannabis flower, the impact of this dose is very different than that of a similar dose taken orally, and in practice, inhaled cannabis doesn’t need to be quantified in number of milligrams.
And while there is a psychoactive threshold for inhaled cannabis, below which non-psychoactive benefits can be experienced, it is harder to be precise with the inhaled dose and easier to take “one toke over the line.”
A good rule of thumb is to take one inhalation, wait five minutes to see how you feel, and proceed accordingly. Some cannabis smokers aren’t used to stopping before they get high, but for some this strategy helps improve symptoms while improving, not impairing, performance.
Using THC cannabis topically in a lotion, salve or cream usually will not get one high unless the topical is applied over a large area of the body or it has been enhanced for transdermal delivery, meaning it’s meant to absorb into the blood via the topical. For transdermal topicals, the range may be 1 mg to 15 mg of THC to get high based on the individual.
Interestingly, we build tolerance to different effects of THC at different rates, and we’re usually faster to build tolerance to its unwanted effects, like mental and physical impairment, than the therapeutic effects, like pain or anxiety relief.
This “tolerance-building” to the unwanted side effects can be used strategically in the first few weeks of THC use, as people who are new to THC build tolerance to the impairing (and other) unwanted side effects over the first few days while the therapeutic effects improve. This is one of the reasons for starting at a low dose and increasing slowly and methodically, as described in Healer’s free introduction to cannabis dosage program.
How much cannabis should you smoke?
For most people, taking 1 to 10 inhalations of smoke per day is an effective dosage and is unlikely to cause harm to the lungs or respiratory tract.
For many of my patients who smoke cannabis, I encourage them to try switching to an herbal flower vaporizer (the healthiest way to inhale cannabis, though somewhat different effects compared to smoking) or, since many people benefit from more than one delivery method, the “Switching from Inhalation to Tincture” program on this site.
Herbal vaporizers often function like a little convection oven, allowing air at a specific temperature to pass over the cannabis, allowing the therapeutic compounds to evaporate without causing the plant material to combust. This results in a lighter and less irritating experience, and saves the lungs from exposure to the toxic products of combustion in cannabis smoke.
A good vaporization temperature to start with is around 360 °F. Herbal vaporizers have a fast, but somewhat delayed onset compared to smoking, so you should wait at least five minutes in between inhalations to feel the effects and determine if you need another.
While some respiratory symptoms can improve with inhaled cannabis, others can worsen; most people quickly figure out if cannabis is helping or hurting. If you have pulmonary disease, use caution and, ideally, work with a cannabis expert if you want to try inhaled cannabis. To learn more about inhaling cannabis, follow Healer’s free introduction to cannabis inhalation dosage program.
What most people don’t know is that inhalation only allows you to absorb 1% to 2% of the plant compounds in cannabis. In fact, 98% of them are exhaled and the combustion or heat necessary for smoking cannabis destroys many other therapeutic cannabinoids, terpenes, flavonoids and other phytonutrients especially the unheated acidic cannabinoids such at THCA, CBDA and CBGA. That’s why 70% of people who use cannabis to treat pain layer inhalation with oral and topical delivery get better results than smoking alone.
How many times should I inhale from the vape pen?
Vaping cannabis involves inhaling a concentrated cannabis oil that’s typically exposed to heat in a pen-like device. While vape pens are convenient and easy to use, I encourage people to use smoked or vaporized flower instead, due to a variety of safety concerns with most vape products.
Like smoking, it’s difficult to quantify how much THC is being vaped in terms of milligrams. I recommend the same strategy: take one inhalation, wait five minutes to see how you feel, and proceed accordingly. Since vape pens contain highly concentrated cannabis extract, you may need fewer inhalations compared to flower.
You can learn how much to inhale by following Healer’s free introduction to inhalation program here.
How many mg of THC should you eat in a gummy or edible?
When taking THC edibles such as THC gummies and THC capsules, most of the THC gets processed by the liver before it enters the bloodstream and brain.
Much of the THC is converted into an active metabolite, 11-OH-THC, which functions similarly to THC in the body, but also has some differences most notably that 11-OH-THC feels stronger than THC and may cause unwanted side effects. This is the main reason why THC edibles may feel different and stronger than inhaled THC.
If oral products are taken with food, compared to on an empty stomach, the total absorption can be two to five times greater, and sometimes the onset can be delayed. This can be a big surprise if you’re not expecting it, so pay attention to your consumption in proximity to meals.
The amount of THC per item can usually be found on the packaging or labels. While the accuracy of labels can sometimes be questionable, use the information as a guide. Be sure to identify what the label considers a serving size.
Since edibles need to be digested, it can take one to two hours or longer for the effects to be felt. Be mindful of how much you’re taking, and be patient. One of the most common mistakes causing adverse effects is when someone thinks the dose they took 30 minutes ago isn’t working, and takes another dose before the first one kicks in. THC overdose can be very uncomfortable, but is rarely dangerous.
Those new to cannabis should start with edibles that contain that contain 1 mg to 2.5 mg per serving. If edibles at this THC dosage are not available where you shop, buy a product with a higher dosage amount and cut the item to get just 1 mg to 2.5 mg. For example, if a gummy is labeled at 5 mg, cut it in half for 2.5 mg, and in half again for 1.25 mg.
For people who want to take cannabis orally with better precision and more consistent results, I recommend using a liquid preparation that can be administered by number of drops. If the package doesn’t clearly describe how many milligrams of THC is in one drop, consider choosing another product with better education and labeling. Healer products, for example, contain ~1 mg of total cannabinoids per drop.
Be sure to properly store edibles out of the reach of children and pets.
How many mgs (milligrams) or drops of THC `tincture should you consume?
If you’re looking for a THC tincture dosage guide, we’ve got you covered. Taking cannabis by the drop typically allows for the most precise dosing and most consistent results. When using cannabis tinctures or oils, it’s easy to start at a low dose and gradually increase until you achieve the intended response.
The idea is to start out very slowly, beginning with 1 mg to 2 mg of THC per dose up to three times daily, and then add 1 mg to 2 mg to your daily dose every 1 to 2 days until you start to feel some noticeable effects. Then, even if the effects are subtle, I recommend holding at that dose for three days before further increasing. For many people, the amount that gives them only small benefits at first will provide stronger benefits as time goes on.
After you find the right amount for you, you can add more uses per day if you find that the effects wear off too early in the day. To learn more about how to use a cannabis tincture, follow Healer’s free introduction to cannabis program.
How much of an infused beverage should you drink?
THC-infused drinks often appeal to those seeking a psychoactive alternative to the effects of alcohol, although there are some who like to slowly sip the beverage throughout the day, achieving the goal of sub-psychoactive doses. Most THC-infused beverages on the market say they contain around 2 mg to 10 mg of THC, and typically are absorbed and experienced similar to other oral cannabis products.
If you’re using cannabis to promote health, be sure to check the label for sugar content, artificial colors, and other nasty additives, and always store cannabis beverages out of the reach of children or pets.
How do I consume cannabis concentrates? How much should I smoke or vape for my first time?
Cannabis concentrates are highly potent extracts (dabs) with THC concentrations of 70% or more. They’re made from extracting and concentrating the cannabis plant. Concentrates come in many different forms and names, including shatters, waxes, live rosin, resin, hash and kief, to name a few. They can be smoked, vaped, eaten or applied topically, depending on the product.
I do not recommend inhaling or eating concentrates if you have never used THC before, or are an infrequent user who hasn’t learned the amount that works best for you.
For beginners who try inhaled concentrate products, the downside – and the most common mistake made – is overdose, which is possible with a single inhalation. Again, while this can be an unpleasant experience, it’s rarely dangerous. One exception that’s different than an overdose of oral THC: inhaled concentrate overdose can cause rapid reductions in blood pressure and fainting.
The term microdosing, when applied to cannabis, refers to using THC for health benefits at a dose that’s below the threshold of psychoactivity.
There’s no set number of milligrams that determines a microdose – rather, it’s determined by an individual’s response to a specific dose. For most people, the microdose range is 1 mg to 5 mg of THC. Some people naturally need more, and others who have built some tolerance to THC will likely need more.
Some people think that using THC requires being high or impaired, and wait until the end of the day to enjoy its benefits. Learning to microdose THC during the day can provide mental and physical benefits. Even some of the benefits of our Healer Spectrum hemp drops and capsules are likely due, in part, to the presence of THC microdoses in the formula.
Other Variables to Consider When Choosing the Right Dose of THC
When choosing to consume cannabis – especially if it’s your first time and you’re using inhalation – make sure you’re in a safe place where you feel comfortable, preferably with someone who has experience with cannabis, or at least someone that you feel secure with.
The most common mistake people make when getting started is not waiting long enough to understand how the dose you took is affecting you. Until you have some experience and know how you’ll respond, always wait five minutes between inhalations. If using a tincture, wait 45 minutes to an hour before taking more. With edibles, wait one to two hours.
To understand how THC affects you, especially when determining an effective microdose, it’s best to incorporate some sort of feedback measure to track your experience. I recommend checking your ‘Inner Inventory’.
By quickly checking in with yourself and rating the way you feel using three or four simple questions both before and the appropriate amount of time after using cannabis, you’ll be able to know if you’ve reached a dose that’s made a subtle but important shift in your physiology.
If your score improves, try staying at that dose for a while. You can always increase the amount if you want stronger effects, but people often find the dose that improves their inner inventory produces even better results when used consistently over time.
Some first-time users do not feel anything during the first couple of times consuming cannabis, even with liberal doses. We suspect that’s because the first dose or two is sensitizing or upregulating the endocannabinoid system. Be patient and wait until your third dose before going above 5 mg of THC.
How many mg of THC is considered a lot?
Different individuals respond well to cannabis in a wide range of doses. For some people who are very sensitive, 5 mg to 10 mg might be too much. Other people do well with 25 mg of THC or more. The most important thing is to understand how much is too much for you, and you can do this safely by starting low and gradually increasing the dose.
If you methodically go up by a small increment, like 1 mg of THC, you’ll never be too far over your personal line.
Is 10 mg a lot for an edible?
Edibles generally are produced in a range of potencies, with individual edibles containing 1 mg, 2.5 mg, 5 mg, 10 mg and 20 mg pieces.
If you’re new to cannabis or someone who’s sensitive to THC, 10 mg could cause some unwanted psychoactive effects. On the other hand, 10 mg is a common dose used to intentionally produce an enjoyable euphoria.
How much THC does it take to get high?
The amount varies by person, the potency of the product, and the inhalation technique. Some people can get high from one single inhalation, while others need several. When using THC tinctures and edibles the range can be as low as 1 mg of THC up to 10+ mg of THC.
How much THC is in a joint? Are all pre-rolls the same?
Joints can have ½ gram to 1 gram of cannabis containing 15-25% THC content. A new class of joints is ‘infused joints’. These contain live rosin or concentrates within to make them over 30% THC. A pre-roll is a joint that you can buy from a dispensary ready-made.
How much THC is in a gram of weed?
A gram of cannabis contains anywhere from 15-30% THC on average (150 mg to 300 mg of THC), based on the quality.
How much THC is in CBD oil?
If the CBD oil manufacturer is compliant with the Agriculture Improvement Act of 2018 (also known as the 2018 Farm Bill or Hemp Act), CBD sold at conventional retail outlets cannot have more than 0.3% THC.
Some CBD products sold by medical dispensaries in adult use or medical markets can have levels of THC higher than 0.3%. Look at labels carefully and when in doubt, ask.
Can you overdose on THC?
Consuming too much THC is referred to as THC intoxication. While high doses of cannabis do not cause brain damage, organ damage, or other forms of physical injury, they can cause delirium and hallucinations which can be quite unpleasant.
Other side effects include dizziness or vertigo, anxiety, nausea, vomiting, pain, twitching, and more. In fact, most of the symptoms that THC can relieve at an appropriate dose can be produced by an overdose.
The most helpful treatment for THC intoxication is a calm, comfortable environment, and reassurance. Just keep in mind that these effects will pass, usually within four to 24 hours.
Before you find yourself in this unfortunate situation, read these helpful strategies which include:
- staying hydrated
- taking CBD (with low THC content) in higher doses (20+mg)
- chamomile tea
- lemon rinds or lemon zest
Using too much THC can cause some people to have hangover or groggy feelings the next day. This is usually feedback from the body that there’s some opportunity to use cannabis more optimally. Avoiding excessive dosing by using our new users program to find the optimal dose usually prevents this side effect.
Experienced users can quickly reverse tolerance before finding their optimal dose. Both of these protocols help your body build up a tolerance to the negative side effects of cannabis while also making you more sensitive to the positive effects.
It’s worth taking the time to find the way to use it that works the best for you — without paying for the next day. But if you do experience a hangover related to too much THC the night before, try taking some CBD in the morning (e.g. 20 mg to 40 mg). This usually helps.
Final thoughts on THC dosage and building tolerance to THC
If you find you require more and more cannabis to get the same benefit, this is a sign of cannabis tolerance. Many of the benefits of cannabis diminish with increased dosage, and high doses can actually worsen the symptoms one might be trying to alleviate.
In addition to improving the efficacy of cannabis, lowering your tolerance can save you 50-60% on monthly cannabis costs and decrease negative side effects.
Follow our Sensitization Protocol to learn how to take a tolerance break to reset your sensitivity to cannabis and subsequently determine a new and lower optimal dose that will work for years or decades without building tolerance.