By Marcia Gagliardi
Special to The Examiner
While Hippie Hill will be covered in a cloud of skunky smoke on 4/20 this year (welcome back, stoners!), I will likely be home enjoying a low-dose cannabis cocktail on my porch, raising my glass to the fact we can all celebrate the high holiday in our own way, at our own preferred dosage. I’m a proud microdoser in a heavy-hitter world, and by carefully managing my intake through well-made, well-sourced, low-dose, measurable cannabis products, I’ve found a great deal of happiness, creativity, spiritual insight and energy as well as plenty of laughs.
4/19 is also known as Bicycle Day in the psychedelic world, in honor of the first time Swiss chemist Albert Hoffmann intentionally dosed himself with LSD and rode his bicycle for quite the literal trip home, in 1945. People originally began microdosing LSD (taking sub-hallucinogenic doses), and now you’ll hear of folks microdosing psilocybin, cannabis and ketamine, among other substances, for mental health benefits, creativity, productivity, insight and more.
Even a few years ago, it was extremely challenging to find low-dose or low-potency cannabis products — dispensaries were all about stocking cookies with 200 mg of THC and flower that would have you talking to yourself. I’d walk in and ask, “What’s the most mellow weed you carry?” and the budtenders would blankly look at me and say, “Whyyyy?” They didn’t understand why I wouldn’t want flower that would blast me to space or deep into the couch, or any edible that was less than 10 milligrams. I’m so glad that perspective has massively shifted the past few years.
As I like to say, I’m highly functioning. I use cannabis for a little hit of energy in the afternoon, and for a lift before I exercise. If I’m stuck in my writing, sometimes a quarter milligram of a high-THCV tincture can get me unstuck, but not so lifted that I can’t string a sentence together. Email inbox stressing me out? Time for a little puff or drops of a high-CBD tincture.
And when it’s time to unwind in the evening, instead of reaching for a bottle of wine or multiple cocktails, I can pour myself a 2.5 milligram canna beverage (no hangover, no sugar spike at 2 a.m. and much fewer calories). Bedtime is all about a few puffs of flower in my PAX vaporizer, or maybe a mix of drops under my tongue from a few tinctures or a 5 milligram edible if I really need to get some Zzzzzz. Cannabinoids are my love language: beyond THC, I have learned how CBD, THCA, THCV, CBG and CBN enhance my life and play a supporting role in my wellness and well-being in many sophisticated ways.
In the past, we wouldn’t know how much THC was in that brownie we bought from “the guy” in the park. For some folks, it doesn’t matter — they’re just happy to get stoned. But many of us have had somewhat traumatic over-consumption experiences with cannabis, and maybe have written it off completely: “It’s not for me.” “I get too paranoid.” Even I stopped enjoying weed for a while, and I was quite the stoner for most of my 20s — but it got so strong that I could barely make a joke after a few tokes, so I took a long time off from it. Like 20 years.
Fortunately, with adult-use/recreational cannabis in California, many manufacturers are realizing that the cannabis market is a diverse one, and new users need a lighter dose to start low and go slow with. You’ll find low-dose gummies, mints, chocolates, sublingual strips and pills, tinctures, sprays, inhalers, sparkling dealcoholized wine and shimmery macarons. I always tell people: “It’s not the cannabis you knew. Think about giving it another try!”
Another movement afoot is many folks are drinking less alcohol, especially millennials and Gen Z. From low-ABV cocktails to zero proof, we’re seeing people turn away from alcohol for unwinding and socializing, and some are moving toward cannabis drinks and nootropic beverages. In fact, a term was coined, “Cali sober,” to describe people who don’t drink alcohol anymore, but still consume cannabis. It’s a lifestyle.
You don’t even need to get high to experience benefits from the plant: microdosing is all about consuming cannabis at a sub-psychoactive level, or in my case, allowing just enough into my system for light, manageable effects. It’s especially important if you’re trying to reduce anxiety — you don’t want to accidentally dial things up. I appreciate being able to introduce our elders to non-psychoactive topicals to help with aches, pains and arthritis, which often ends up giving them the confidence to try consuming cannabis once they experience its efficacy.
But it’s always important to talk with your doctor if you take any prescribed medications — cannabis can interact with many of them, especially antidepressants, anti-anxiety medications, pain medications, sedatives, anticoagulants or any meds that interact with grapefruit usually need to be looked at more closely. Cannabinoids can reduce the efficacy of your meds, so be sure to check with your doc. But remember, it’s legal, so don’t be afraid to talk about it.
One last thing to remember: So many people have done so much (and lost so much) to get us to the legalized state we currently get to enjoy now. We must give thanks — and commit to help fix so many wrongs. Support cannabis equity programs and brands, and national marijuana record expungement. The war on drugs unfairly targeted people of color, destroying lives and families. While we get to enjoy convenient cannabis delivery to our front door, many are still living in prison. We’ve come a long way, and we have a long way to go.
Have a happy 4/19 and 4/20, however you like to celebrate (and at whatever dosage you prefer!).
Marcia Gagliardi is a San Francisco-based restaurant columnist and freelance writer, well-known for her 16-year-old tablehopper newsletter. Her latest venture is mymilligram.