If you have a headache, you can look at a bottle of Advil and read that a couple of tablets should handle it. But if you want to treat pain with medical marijuana, how much of that do you need?
Right now, cannabis dosing is a continuous process of trial and error for patients, but California startup Mode hopes to change that with a smart device designed to eliminate some of the guesswork.
Cannabis Dosing: It's Complicated
For pharma companies, determining the ideal dose for a medication is usually a straightforward process involving clinical trials and careful calculations. That process falls short, however, when it comes to cannabis dosing.
For one thing, while every pill in every bottle of Advil is going to contain the same amount of the pain reliever ibuprofen, marijuana is incredibly variable, with hundreds of strains containing countless different combinations of compounds.
The effects of medical marijuana are hard to predict, as two people can react very differently to the same strain.
"This is not just another vape device you’re hitting and blowing out clouds all day."
As if that's not complicated enough, a strain that helps a person at one dose might cause unwanted side effects at another — hitting a vape pen for too long or holding a breath too long can be the difference between pain relief and paranoia.
Cannabis dosing is easier today than it was just a few decades ago, thanks to legalization efforts.
Medical marijuana users often know what strain they're buying (something rarely possible on the black market), and they can often see right on the package the compounds and quantities that are in their weed.
Now, Mode has created a device to help people take the precise dose they need, every time, without fail.
Mode works like most vaping devices — you insert a 510 cartridge (the most common type), Mode heats up its contents, and you inhale the vapors.
With Mode, however, you can use a touch slider to set a dosage amount between 1 and 5 milligrams and a companion app to set the amount of time you want to hold a hit.
The device stops heating and vibrates when you should quit inhaling, and then vibrates again when you should exhale. Sensors and an algorithm help it determine the timing of these vibrations.
Initially, figuring out an effective dose and how long you should hold it will still be a process of trial and error. However, once you dial it in, the device can ensure you get that same dose every time you use medical marijuana.
"This is not just another vape device you're hitting and blowing out clouds all day," Mode co-founder Izzy Kirsch said during a virtual demonstration at the 2021 Consumer Electronics Show. "You can get a milligram pill, so to speak, and go on with your day."
To help with cannabis dosing, the app can also keep track of what strain a person vaped, when, and in what quantities. The user can enter details on the effect of that dosage, and the app can then make product and dosage recommendations based on that data.
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Other Dosing Devices
Mode is currently available for preorder for $100, and the startup expects to begin shipping the device to customers in summer 2021. Other devices designed to help with cannabis dosing are already on the market, though.
Pharma-tech company Syqe has released a device in Israel that uses special cartridges preloaded with precise amounts of cannabis flowers to regulate the amount of marijuana a person inhales.
California-based startup dosist, meanwhile, is selling a line of vape pens and cartridges in the U.S. that follow the Mode model of vibrating when a person reaches a certain dosage amount (2.5 milligrams).
The fact that Mode works with any standard 510 cartridge means medical marijuana users have far more strain options than with either Syqe or dosist's offerings, though, so once it's released, the smart device could prove to be a more popular solution to the cannabis dosing problem than its predecessors.
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