Cannabis Microdosing: Is It a Safety or Money Thing?

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Microdosing is a pretty common practice in the medical cannabis arena. It is the practice of ingesting the smallest possible amount of THC to successfully treat a condition. Proponents claim that microdosing is about ensuring patient safety. Critics are not so sure. They suspect it might be more about money than anything else.

High Times pot critic Jimi Devine wrote a post in early June 2022 discussing this very topic. Devine set up the discussion by referring to the ‘Great Cannabis Microdosing Conspiracy‘. A thorough reading of the piece doesn’t clearly reveal Devine’s stand on the conspiracy theory. But the safe money supposes he is against microdosing.

Microdosing Explained

The microdosing concept is not hard to understand. Assuming you are talking about medical cannabis, the general consensus is that patients should always favor the lowest doses possible. It is no different than any other type of medication. When doctors write prescriptions for antidepressants, for example, they tend to start with a low dose and work up as needed.

It is not difficult to understand that medical cannabis would be treated the same way. However, the conspiracy comes into play when you realize that there are very few standards for manufacturing medical cannabis products. Manufacturers can produce everything from vape pens to gelatinous gummies. They can manufacture tinctures, topical medications, and concentrated resins – all with different amounts of THC.

That being the case, regulators have very little choice but to impose dosage restrictions. They have to tell manufacturers how much THC they can put in their products, or they open the door to the same kinds of problems we are now starting to see in the CBD market.

Lower Doses and Pricing

A case can be made for utilizing microdosing for safety. And yet, conspiracy theorists can also make a compelling case based on pricing. After microdosing went into effect in California, pricing did not adequately reflect lower doses. The net effect is that patients now spend more to obtain the same amount of THC.

By lowering dosage and not lowering prices commensurately, the industry ends up making more money. That is the heart of the conspiracy theory. Some believe that manufacturers worked with legislators to keep dosage under control for the sole purpose of maximizing profits.

Does that sound far fetched? It may not be. There are plenty of examples of corporations lobbying state and federal leaders for regulations that are favorable to the bottom line. Lobbying is so effective that corporations pay top dollar to the best in the business. They are willing to spend on lobbying because, down the line, favorable regulations boost profits.

No Big Surprise

The Great Cannabis Microdosing Conspiracy is not all that surprising as a theory explaining why cannabis prices are so high. But microdosing is just one factor. You also need to consider taxes, licensing fees, and the general cost of doing business.

California is home to one of the worst taxing regimes in the cannabis industry. Their black market thrives because taxation is so high. Meanwhile, high medical cannabis prices in Utah can partially be blamed on limited supply. According to Provo’s Deseret Wellness, there are only eight licensed growing operations and slightly more than a dozen pharmacies to serve a population of about three million. Prices are high because supply cannot keep up with demand.

Is it possible that the microdosing idea is more about money than patient safety? It is. It wouldn’t even be surprising to discover that such is the case. But patient safety could still be part of the equation. Perhaps both play into microdosing regulations in California and elsewhere.