For approximately 14 days out of every month, I sleep 8 hours, my anxiety is manageable, and, if I avoid subreddits, I feel like a reasonably healthy and optimistic person.
The other 14 days, to sleep and taper my anxiety, I'm breaking the law. Drumroll, I—along with 33 million other Americans—smoke, eat, and vape cannabis regularly.
Narcing myself feels risky, but almost half of all Americans have tried weed. At this point, even most Republican senators are in favor of legalizing it. But even with the rising tide of legalization all over the US, I've hidden my use for years to avoid negative perceptions at work. Happy hours, not blunts, are associated with the corner office.
When I'd mention my insomnia, anxiety, and chronic back pain in past work settings, my coworkers would joke about popping Ambiens and downing wine on red eye flights. I could never relate to mixing hypnotics with alcohol, but when I finally did share my "trick," a 10 mg weed edible, my coworkers looked aghast.
I probably sounds like a total pot head by now, but I'm not actually walking around high all day. If I can't sleep, I'll eat some or smoke before bed. During the day, if I want to calm myself in a moment of crisis, I stick to forms that are non-psychoactive, like CBD (cannabidiol). While CBD is having a moment, there's another trend I've wanted to try out: microdosing.
Microdosing means ingesting small amounts of cannabis, including THC (tetrahydrocannabinol — the psychoactive part of weed), throughout the day. Not enough to leave you stoned, hence the "micro" part. THC is the psychoactive compound in cannabis that the DEA has labeled a Schedule I drug. THC is what got cannabis ranked alongside heroin and meth. Curious if microdosing had any personal benefits (note: I am not a doctor), or, if, in the words of Jeff Sessions, it would turn me into a bad person, I decided to spend an entire week eating edibles and taking tinctures.
Even though weed has been effectively legal for white New Yorkers, I had planned a trip to LA, where cannabis was fully legalized on January 1, 2018. Like with any experiment, there were rules:
- My weed has to be in small doses. I might be buzzed but I have to get things done.
- 2-5 mg of THC was to be taken every few hours through edibles and tinctures so I could measure and monitor.
- I would have to find edibles brands that are trusted. Typically I make my own with a Levo at home, but I don't travel with weed.
- I had to maintain working out 3-5x a week. Hiking counts.
Day 1: Women in weed
Day 1: Women in weed
To start the first day of microdosing my way to mindfulness, I visited a women-owned and -operated dispensary — Los Angeles Patients & Caregivers Group or LAPCG. Wanting to support women in weed that could help with my two main needs — anxiety relief and sleep — manager Michelle Mendoza curated a list of mostly women-owned cannabis products.
In New York, you learn to never trust product. As with any illegal market, it's unregulated, and, with lack of oversight, cannabis can be laced or contain dangerous chemicals. California, though it has its own issues with regulation, is a different world. With licensed and fully legal dispensaries like LACPG, you have weed you can trust that looks like it was curated for the latest Kinfolk spread. Items ranging from infused honey to gel capsules and Goop-esque protein balls, I was on my way to a highly refined #weedweek. Getting home early, I decided to pop a 5 mg Kiva chocolate and do some yoga before attempting my first cooking excursion.
Ravenous post-yoga, I made myself a grilled cheese with Honey Pot Supply. Each tablespoon is 10 mg, so I decided to dose out 5 mg. Weed honey and cheese, as expected, is delicious. So delicious I made myself a second sandwich with another serving of honey. Wrapping the night with a 3 mg THC cup of TRANQUIL-TEA from Kikoko, I was ready for bed. While many brands tout the benefits of CBD and sleep, that's only if you have anxiety. My insomnia has always required a bit of THC, and this tea also has around 5 mg of CBN (cannabinol). CBN has shown signs of being a sedative as powerful as valium, but isn't supposed to leave you groggy in the morning.
Sleeping through my jet lag for over 8 hours, I woke up feeling like a new person.
THC total: ~13mg
Day 2: Regret tastes like vegan protein balls
Being in LA every few weeks, I typically have to pack days with meetings as the city is so spread out. I didn't want to dose in between calls, so instead I ate 15 mg of the protein balls to ensure I was good for the day. Over breakfast, not feeling anything, I took a 2 mg vial of Humboldt Apothecary tincture.
This was a rookie mistake.
The thing with edibles and tinctures is that it takes a minute to digest and hit your bloodstream, so you'll get the side effects at different speeds. One minute you're fine, the next you've forgotten how to use your legs. Even with years of experience taking edibles, I committed the cardinal sin of topping up my dose when I didn't "feel things" fast enough. In the immortal words of Twitter user bigdickbobby; "edibles kick in after they hear you talking shit about them."
The result? I took three meetings when I was very high. The accumulated ~15-20 mg made my head buzzy, my reactions felt delayed (laughing on a conference call 5 minutes after the punchline is uncomfortable for everyone involved), and my dry mouth could not be quenched. While the meetings all ended with coherent follow-ups, it wasn't pleasant.
At 5 p.m. I finally felt the effects wearing off and, branching out from yoga, ate half a 5 mg gummy from District Edibles before heading to Barry's Bootcamp. Typically, if an instructor is too peppy, I want to leave the class screaming, "NO ONE IS HAPPY RUNNING IN PLACE STOP QUOTING THE DALAI LAMA." This time, the instructor's enthusiasm didn't bother me. Wrapping up my workout and spiking my smoothie with more tincture (about 2 mg), I went with friends to see the cinematic masterpiece, Rampage.
While being buzzed and watching movies is typically enjoyable, this time I spent the entire movie obsessing over unrealistic details. My biggest gripe? Forget the flying wolf or the crocodile that grew spike torpedos on its tail… nope, it was the human villain, Claire Wyden that really irked me. As anyone who has tried to emulate street style knows, if your arms don't go through the arm holes, your coat will fall off. This is science. There's no way her peacoat wouldn't have budged (SPOILER ALERT) when she got eaten by the gorilla.
Smoking a joint and taking a night cap of indica dark chocolate while FaceTiming my boyfriend back in NYC, I had another deep, blissful sleep.
THC total: great question, probably over 25 mg
Day 3: Hiking higher
Popping a Care by Design 1:1 10 mg pill, I started my day by wrapping up a few projects, before going hiking with friends in the afternoon. Before the hike, I topped us all off with more Blues Away tincture. While I'm typically not a very "one with nature" person, I barely looked at my phone on this hike.
Then, taking a Kiva espresso bean, I went grocery shopping for the group. I'm an efficient shopper, but this time it took me an hour to choose some unripe avocados and sweet potatoes. Regaining my motor skills, I proceeded to make dinner for my friends. Cooking was a bit of a haze but everyone praised the three courses I made. We ended the night with drinks out and late night pizza.
THC total: ~20 mg
Day 4: I’m a chill girl
My legs were aching from the uphill activity, but, after I put ~10 mg of honey in my coffee I felt ready to take on the day. Both CBD and THC have anti-inflammatory properties, which might help explain why my muscles hurt less an hour later.
Whether it was the caffeine, the THC, or LA's hiking scene finally converting me, I had no excuse to be lazy and met a friend for a strenuous stroll. Other than being described, for the first time in my life, as "really chill," none of my friends have noted a difference in my behavior.
Later, taking a 10 mg edible while heading to a friend's comedy show, I remembered another side effect of cannabis — the giggles. I had a few awkward moments where I was hyperventilating from cry-laughing, and waves of emotions kept crashing over me. Seeing my friend control the room making everyone laugh made me so proud of her. And instead of documenting every moment on social media as I'd normally do, I enjoyed the moment.
I also enjoyed a deep dish jalapeno mac and cheese post-show, and ended my night with another tea from Kikoko.
THC total: 20 mg
Day 5: Honesty isn’t always the best policy
Feeling a little too Thoreauean with my workouts, I decided to try something I'd never done before: an ab workout on a vibrating plate, paired with a more espresso beans.
Balance has been a delicate thing this week, and, for me, that balance crumbled the moment I stepped into PlateFit. I felt like I was having an out of body experience on an industrial washing machine, but on the plus side I was pleased to realize that for the first time this week my muscles hurt and no amount of microdosing was easing it. I hoped some of the mac and cheese calories I inhaled the night prior evaporated.
Heading over to Soho House for meetings, I realized that the more cannabis I took, the more my social filter disappeared. From rejecting friend's plans that would stretch me too thin, to going on a rants about why soy milk should be called soy juice since only mammals have milk, I was definitely more honest, and made less friends amongst wait staffs, on my weed kick.
THC total: 15 mg
Day 6: Hotboxing my way to health
I started my day with a coffee and one of my favorite gummies—PLUS's sour watermelon sativa. After a morning meeting, I'd realised I'd forgotten to eat and headed to Pizzanista. While I hadn't experienced intense munchies, I do have a thing for pizza and ate a few slices.
Meeting my friend Jane who brought me a few Apothecanna topicals, or weed oil and extracts that are infused into everything from muscle sprays to face creams, we chatted about our favorite cannabis beauty products. As beauty junkies who battle eczema, CBD is something we've incorporated into our daily routines. Taking my last slice to go, I hit up Fred Segal to check out what might be one of the more bougie weed displays I'd ever seen in the flesh, the Daily Hit from CAP beauty.
In the afternoon, I kept the week #onbrand by heading to HotBox sauna studios — it's a regular spa, not pot-style hotboxing, but I'll take the pun. Eating another PLUS gummy before walking in, the infrared sauna sped up the edible. Listening to a podcast, I started the session feeling faint but by the time my 40 minutes were up, I was revived, ravenous, and a little depleted (the podcast did that). Luckily, I was meeting a friend at Baohaus.
Even though the edible had worn off by that point, the Cheetos bao was the first time I'd experienced anything close to munchies. That being said, cheese dust typically enhances my appetite.
And so, with an orange bao in one hand, and taro fries in the other, I bid adieu to weed week.
THC total: 20 mg
So what did I learn from being low-grade buzzed for a week? Well:
My back pain didn't flare up once. While I knew THC was a good remedy for my back pain anecdotally from my years of flying, after a haul from NYC to LA I typically have a few days where I'm stiff and lumber around until the pain lessens. This time, from my back's perspective, I felt fine.
Being chill is OK. On two occasions friends marveled at my "chill." I been described in many ways, chill is not one of them. While I always feel the need to contribute, say yes to plans, and overwork myself, there was something liberating in doing what I wanted to do 24/7.
Too much of anything gets old. While by the end of the week I stopped dosing too high and actually getting stoned, I was tired of constantly monitoring my high and levelling up my edibles. Having work to do, friends to see, and pizzas to eat, I was tired of worrying about how many milligrams I'd taken.
I spent a lot less time on my phone. Maybe it was the decreased anxiety, or the fact that looking at a screen just feels boring when you're vibing, but I put down my phone a lot more than usual.
I was more honest. By the end of a week in LA I typically want to run back to New York. It's easy to stretch yourself thin when friends live 10 miles apart, but those 10 miles take an hour and a half to traverse by car. Instead praying for serenity now in Ubers, I said no to plans that didn't make sense and did something revolutionary—asked people to come to me.
I slept, a lot. This is an obvious one, but my sleep was regular and consistent. As a result my eye bags were nowhere to be seen and my energy levels, other than the few moments where I took too many edibles, were higher than average.
I need to take care of myself more. Having left my corporate job a month ago to stay close to my family and try to build my own company, I'm hard on myself and feel, in order to make it, I need to constantly be working. While I know hard work is important, microdosing helped me gain some perspective and drop the anxious energy which was burning me out.
I felt guilty. Being white, and never fearing jail time for a joint, my cannabis use and advocacy has always made me feel guilty. Admitting there is overwhelming white privilege when it comes to weed, talking more openly, and changing stereotypes through normalisation will hopefully bring more states legalising.
Cannabis is a complicated plant—and because it's made of hundreds of compounds, and we have insufficient research due to federal laws, no two people will react to the same product identically. Microdosing around 20 mg a day worked for me, but, if you're in a legalised state and want to try this, you'll have to experiment for yourself.
Will I microdose constantly? No, probably not. Will I incorporate edibles into how I take care of myself? Absolutely. There's a time and place to be chill, and, for once, I'm here for it.
Via: Cosmopolitan US