At 3 p.m., I was feeling dopey. Not on dope, mind you, but the day had taken a toll. So I downed two gummy bears with 5mg of THC each and squirted a tincture with 25mg of full-spectrum CBD under my tongue. My goal: To find out if I could use cannabis to overcome the afternoon lull—so I could write a story about using cannabis to overcome the afternoon lull.
To guide my experiments, I had solicited help from Bryan Doner, D.O., chief medical officer of Compassionate Certification Centers, a health-care provider in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. First, he stressed that clinical studies have shown that THC impairs attention and short term memory. That said, he himself has treated patients with cannabis to help them be more productive. “Many people have distracting ‘noise’ in their minds that can be quieted with cannabis preparations.”
Using cannabis to help with productivity takes a bit of trial and adjustment, Dr. Doner told me. He recommended trying products that include CBD. “When used in combination with THC, CBD can help to lessen or mitigate the intoxicating effects produced by THC,” he said. Start with a 1:1 ratio of CBD to THC, but if you feel too high to concentrate, he said, the next time increase the CBD and back off on the THC. His dosage formula for any patient is simple: 0.5mg of CBD and/or THC for every kilogram (2.2 lbs) of body weight. For a 160 lb person like me, that’s 36mg—or 18mg CBD and 18mg THC.
Related: Does Cannabis Help You Sleep?
We also talked about terpenes, the essential oils produced by cannabis flowers. A few of them, specifically limonene and alpha- and beta-pinene, have been linked to improved memory and focus. Terpene content has a more significant impact on alertness than whether the product you are ingesting comes from cannabis sativa or indica, according to Ethan Russo, M.D., a board-certified neurologist and psychopharmacology researcher. He reported in the journal Cannabis and Cannabinoid Research that “sedation in common cannabis strains is attributable to their myrcene content, a monoterpene with a strongly sedative couchlock effect that resembles a narcotic. In contrast, a high limonene content will be uplifting on mood, while the presence of alpha-pinene can reduce or eliminate the short-term memory impairment classically induced by THC.”
Forgetful, and a danger to himself and deadlines—that sounds like my early afternoons. So I began searching for a cannabinoid wakeup call that works for me. After a few misses, I hit on an encouraging combo: 10mg THC coupled with 25mg CBD. THC triggered a free flow of ideas, which is probably the reason we used to refer to pot as “poetry weed.”
CBD helped keep my mind on track and my energy from dissipating. Any more THC or less CBD and my thoughts started wandering. The verdict: Cannabis helped me organize my thoughts and express them succinctly— just what I needed to do this afternoon. What worked for me is no prescription for you, but the following tips will help you get started.
Go Low and Slow
“Always start off with a lower dose, then increase slowly in small increments,” Dr. Doner explained. “ Sometimes our patients say they don’t feel any effects. Often they are under-dosing.”
Adjust the Ratio
If you want to be productive, you need CBD to be a counterweight to THC. A 1:1 ratio is just a starting point, Dr. Doner said. The 2.5:1 ratio worked best for me.
Mix and Match
You may find a single cannabis product that has just the right ratio and terpenes for you. If you don’t, hybridize, “You must know the exact dose of cannabinoids in each product so you can make adjustments accordingly,” Dr. Doner said.
Manage Your Time
Oral forms are better for longer spurts of productivity, Dr. Doner said. “In my clinical experience, high-CBD and low-THC capsules, oils, and tinctures give you that prolonged duration and action.”
Check the Paperwork
Ask for the certificate of analysis to check the THC, CBD, and terpene content. That may sound like homework, but if you’re feeling alert, it will be easy and quick.