What Are Cannabis Tinctures and How Do You Use Them?

Once upon a time, cannabis enthusiasts were forced to enjoy their herb with only two options: burn it or cook it. While most enthusiasts are likely to still adore the old fashioned ways, we now also have various other modes to consume. Today we’re going to cover a form that was actually more popular than pipe or butter at the turn of last century — cannabis tinctures.

What are Cannabis Tinctures?

By definition, a tincture is a medicine made by dissolving a drug in alcohol. In the case of cannabis, oils are often used instead of alcohol; mostly because using alcohol-based cannabis tinctures are not allowed in several of the canna-legal states (like Washington), but also because people tend to prefer the taste of oils over the strong taste of alcohol.

Cannabis tinctures come in dark protective bottles with droppers, which are used to measure the desired dose.

cannabis tinctures with dropper

The History of Cannabis Tinctures

Before cannabis prohibition in 1937, tinctures were sold at common drug stores. They were so popular that most local drug stores actually made and sold their own brands. (Pharmaceutical companies, several still in existence, took over the market by the mid-19th century.) Doctors directly gave prescriptions for cannabis tinctures, prescribing them to help a large variety of ailments; hence their stunning popularity.

Cannabis Tinctures as Medicine

Of course, thanks to our bodies’ endocannabinoid systems, cannabis and cannabis tinctures still help a large number of ailments. There are tinctures available in several cannabinoid varieties, like THC, CBD, and THCa, each with its own medicinal skill set. Some tinctures isolate cannabinoids, and others combine them; increasing their effectiveness by working together, a phenomenon called the entourage effect.

cannabis tinctures vials with cannabinoids

Medicating via tinctures has several advantages. For one, dropping a bit of liquid into your mouth is very inconspicuous. It’s also faster to take than other methods, especially when you compare the time it takes to smoke a bowl vs. squeezing a dropper. And it starts working very quickly: if dropped under the tongue (sublingually) than it will take effect in 20 minutes or less. (If swallowed, it must be processed through the liver and will take an hour or longer.)

Benefits of Cannabis Tinctures

Cannabis tinctures also offer a lack of smoke or vape for those with throat sensitivity matters, or who just don’t like the feeling. They are also great for precise dosing, as droppers are generally marked very specifically; whereas eating an edible can be a bit of a guessing game. This precision is ideal for those interested in microdosing as well. Plus, tinctures alone also have fewer calories than other edible options, with just the oil or alcohol weighing in.

How to Use a Cannabis Tincture

Tinctures are also very versatile and can be used in several ways. We’ve talked about using them alone; sublingually or swallowed for an edible effect (which can be more psychoactive). But they also can be used to infuse foods and beverages in a quick and easy manner. They can also be applied topically by rubbing the appropriate tincture on any problematic area of skin. Try a topical tincture for your next sunburn, bruise, or to treat pain from an injury!

cannabis tinctures dropper

It’s important to start low when you’re first using tinctures so that you don’t overmedicate, which can result in a rather unpleasant experience if using a psychoactive tincture, and a waste of money either way. The first time, try just a few drops (or up to .25 mL) and see what that does. Increase the dose by the same amount daily until you reach the desired effect. Also, remember that tinctures don’t like light or heat, so be sure keep them in a cool dark place. Enjoy!

Find high-quality cannabis tinctures at your nearest Washington dispensary. Clear Choice has two dispensaries serving the Bremerton and Tacoma areas. You can browse our online dispensary menu to see what we have available or stop by for friendly service!

Microdosing Cannabis: How a Small Amount of Weed Can Go a Long Way

A growing number of individuals are embracing the common saying that “less is more” when it comes to their cannabis consumption. People who are seeking the positive effects of cannabis such as enhanced creativity, reduced anxiety, and mood-regulation, while also hoping to avoid the adverse side effects like paranoia or “couch lock” are finding that using low to moderate doses of cannabis to be the way to go.

Benefits of Microdosing Cannabis

Finding the most effective dose (lowest dose, greatest effect), will ensure that you’ll not only get the most bang for your buck when buying bud, but you'll also be doing the best for your health. Microdosing cannabis will also help you keep your tolerance low while maximizing the therapeutic effects of cannabis (without ingesting more than what is needed to reach this state).  Who doesn’t like saving hard-earned money (and getting more for less)?

If you were to ask Grandma (presuming she's a teetotaler) why she doesn’t like you smoking weed, she'll like harken back to typical "stoner" stereotypes. "Boy, you know the wacky tobacky makes people lazy!" While this stereotype may hold true for some hardcore chronic cannabis users, it's just the opposite for "microdosers." People who microdose report doing so because it helps regulate mood and provides a boost of energy and creativity.  These effects are also dependent upon the strain and the differences in how marijuana affects the individual user.

How to Microdose Cannabis

Meet Dr. Dustin Sulak. Sulak is a physician located in Maine who has many years of experience with medicinal cannabis treatment. In a Rolling Stone article, he explained: “I discovered that most people have a certain threshold of cannabis.  Below [the threshold] they'll experience a gradual increase in health benefits, and above it, they'll start building tolerance, experiencing diminishing benefits and more side effects, like short term memory loss and clumsiness." Finding that threshold is the most important step to micro-dosing.

But, what is the right amount of cannabis for microdosing? There is no exact answer to this question since. As previously mentioned, everyone is different when it comes to how they react to cannabis. Every person's physiology is unique, so what works for others, may work differently for you.

"What I found works the best is to give someone a starting point and then give them a methodology, a program for titrating from that starting point to determine what works best for them based on their individual goals," says Sulak.

Dr. Sulak says that he typically starts patients on a 1:1 ratio (of THC to CBD), because he finds that to be the most effective for most patients. However, he notes, "If that person had a history years ago, say of having a paranoid reaction to cannabis, then I would go much higher on the CBD and lower on the THC, maybe a 4:1 or even an 8:1."

Dr. Sulak also recommends taking an "herbal holiday" from cannabis -- a 2 to 3-day break from consuming -- every few months. And then ingesting equal parts THC and CBD, preferably in a tincture or oil as it is easier to get precise measurements.

Before consuming, Dr. Sulak says to ask yourself three questions (answering on a scale of one to 10):

  1. How easy is it to breathe?
  2. How comfortable and calm does your body feel?
  3. How easy is it for you to smile authentically, to feel content and grateful?

After ingesting wait 45 minutes and ask yourselves the same questions again. Gradually increase your dosage (by a milligram or two) based on your desired feeling and record that measurement.  After enough repetition, you’ll find your sweet spot.

Know Thy Self

You may have had "the experience" as a twenty-something-year-old -- going out to a bar with a group of friends, then after one or two drinks in, you’re feeling social and have a warm buzz going.  Wanting to keep this feel-good train moving you take down a few shots over the next hour. Then, bam! It hits you all at once.

Now you’re possibly feeling nauseous, aggressive, and definitely more than a bit loopy.  As you become a more experienced consumer of alcohol you learn your limits and figure out when it’s time to cut yourself off or have a glass of water.

You can apply the same logic to cannabis.  Low doses can provide the desired effects while high doses can leave you feeling foggy and paranoid. Find the dose that works for you and ingest smarter, not excessively.

For more information about dosing, check out this guide how long do edibles last.