Whether you’re a new consumer or a connoisseur of sorts, there’s no escaping the fact that cannabis edibles are just plain tricky, and sometimes scary for first-timers.  

Is one THC-infused cookie enough? If so, why aren’t you feeling it yet? If you eat another one, are you at risk of blasting off into outer space? Do you feel like blasting off into outer space right now, or would you prefer to stay in the living room with your friends?

Leaders in California’s ever-expanding edibles industry know all too well how this kind of inevitable self-questioning spiral can harsh your brownie buzz – and they think they may have a solution.

It’s called microdosing, and it’s pretty much exactly what it sounds like.

Microdosed products contain very small amounts of THC (typically between five and 10 milligrams) and often come in the form of easily divisible chunks in a larger product, like a chocolate bar containing 100 milligram of THC in total.

It’s a move at least partly borrowed from the books of recreationally legalized states like Colorado, where regulations for the “standardized” dosing of edibles are already in place.

According to Christie Strong of Kiva Confections – one of several companies to address the rising trend of microdosing and its role in the future of edibles at the recent New West Summit in San Fransisco – it’s a process that allows consumers of all experience levels to “find their own personal minimum effective dose.”

“Microdosing is the beginning of real specialization in cannabis… the beginning of people understanding that [consuming edibles] can be a science and it doesn’t have to be scary,” says Strong, who calls edibles trends of the past largely “a gamble.”

“The onset and the duration of edibles are sort of the trickiest factors in really understanding your dose… microdosing just sort of addresses all those concerns at once,” she says.

“If you start with a really small dose, you see how it affects your body and you’re able to wait a reasonable amount of time before slowly raising that dose. You get to see how five milligrams affects you, how 10 or 15 milligrams affect you, and so on.”  

Often, Strong adds, it’s a process that leads to surprisingly pleasant results (depending on your own personal tolerance, of course.)

“I think people [are often] surprised by how enjoyable taking a smaller dose can be… you can [end up] with this amazing calming feeling along with what you’d call borderline psycho-activity,” said Strong.

“Having these small doses puts people back in control and makes edibles less of a fearful thing… literally anyone can take it without fear.”

For many edibles experts, this is the real crux of the argument for microdosing: that cannabis consumers of all levels of expertise should have access to a reliable and enjoyable edibles experience. And as the cannabis industry continues to expand and more and more states look toward legalization measures, there are bound to be growing numbers of cannabis newbies looking for a safe entry point into the space.

“You want people to have a positive experience when they consume your product… [microdosing] makes everything consistent, so whether you’re taking a dose of our product or a dose of somebody else’s there’s a benchmark to understand what you’re taking,” says Eric Eslao, CEO of Défoncé Chocolatier, who also spoke about microdosing at the New West Summit.

“Can people still take [our products] to get blitzed? Yes, it’s just a matter of taking more doses. But we want… to make it safe and enjoyable for people who are new to edibles.”