Spotlight on CBD Dosage: 71% of CBD Users Self-determine Dosage Without Consulting a Professional

New Leafreport survey reveals that only 29% of CBD users consulted with a professional to determine their dosage.
Written by 
Emma Francis Stone, Ph.D.
|Check IconMedically reviewed by 
Eloise Theisen, RN, MSN, AGPCNP-BC.
|Last Updated:

Introduction

Consumers around the world are enthusiastically integrating cannabidiol (CBD) into their well-being and self-care regimens. While the evidence is stacking up to support the beneficial therapeutic properties of the cannabinoid, there’s still much to learn about CBD and how to optimize its use.

One of the most critical points to consider is how to determine CBD dosage. With no standardized dosing scheme for CBD (yet), there’s ample room for interpretation. Consumer CBD dosage guidelines can vary significantly from brand to brand. There’s even significant variation between clinical studies and the doses researchers administer to patients.

In light of the lack of current consensus surrounding dosing, Leafreport decided to conduct a survey to explore how people determine CBD dosage. We conducted a survey via SurveyMonkey of individuals based in the US aged 21 to 80. Of the 1360 individuals who responded, 721 respondents are currently using CBD or had experimented with it.

We quizzed them on diverse aspects of CBD dosing, with some fascinating findings revealed below.

Insider Views on Determining CBD Dosage

According to Christine De La Rosa, CEO and national co-founder of The People’s Ecosystem, The People’s Dispensary, and Founder of CBxShield, following the directions on the label represents a good start.

“I start with the recommended dosage on the package,” she said. “It’s important because not all brands are the same. CBD is new for many people and they need to know what they are consuming–it’s not a one-size-fits-all.”

That being said, De La Rosa also cautions that the recommended dosage represents a guideline. “Dosage on a label is a suggestion but does not work for everyone. The biggest mistake the pharmaceutical industry ever made was thinking that ‘one pill fits all.’”

De La Rosa also mentioned that gradually titrating the dosage helps her to find the “sweet spot”.

“I will double the dosage and continue to do so until my body feels better. For example, I start with 10mg, double it to 20mg, then double that to 40mg — which is my personal sweet spot. When I have a flare up from my Lupus, I will add an additional 20mg that day, which works for me.”

She adds that advice from a trusted expert can be helpful in guiding the titration process–but also emphasizes that it’s essential to check in with yourself as you adjust dosage to observe how your body reacts.

“Each person must adjust based on their body’s needs. It is important to take your time learning how your body works and responds to the recommended dosage and then making a decision from there,” she recommends.

For David Anthony Schroeder, an advocate for the use of CBD for pain management, and author of the book “7 Ways to Manage Pain With CBD“, dosage guidelines on labels simply represent a generic starting point.

“There is not an average size dose, as CBD is not a one-size-fits-all”, said Schroeder. “There are a number of factors affecting the dosage amount that will affect an individual battling illness or chronic pain.” Schroeder adds that factors such as the quality and potency of the CBD, the person’s weight, the severity of their condition, their metabolism, and the concentration of the CBD in the product can all affect how the consumer experiences the recommended dose.

Schroeder adheres to two pieces of advice when it comes to determining CBD dosage.

“Start out with 5-10mg, gauge your body’s reaction, stay at that level for at least a week for your body to get used to ingesting a new supplement, and then increase from there,” he says.

He also points out that it can be helpful to adjust dosage initially based on body weight. “As with all prescribed medications, a person with more body weight will need to have more milligrams of CBD to experience its effects.”

Here are more experts we interviewed about determining the right dosage.

Key Findings

We asked the survey participants a total of 11 questions regarding their CBD usage and dosage habits. Here are some of the most striking findings:

  • 71% decided the dosage themselves, without consulting a professional;
  • 26% don’t check for CBD concentration when shopping for CBD products;
  • 22% didn’t check the dose before taking CBD;
  • 29% of CBD users consulted with a professional to determine their dosage;
  • 48% take the same dosage every time they consume CBD;
  • 31% use CBD for pain;
  • 31% use CBD every day.

These key insights point to some of the most compelling results unearthed by the survey–but more in-depth detail is revealed in the results analysis for each question below.

Results Analysis

We asked the survey participants a total of 11 questions to formulate a comprehensive understanding of their methods of determining CBD dosage, along with their use patterns.

Here is our breakdown of the data for each question.

Have You Ever Used CBD Products?

Of the 1360 respondents who responded to the survey, 721 indicated that they were familiar with CBD. Of these, a total of 448 people were still currently using CBD, and a further 273 people shared that they had taken CBD, but weren’t taking it presently. 351 users reported that they hadn’t yet taken CBD but were interested in trying it.

Those who hadn’t used CBD before were disqualified from the survey, leaving 721 participants remaining to finish the questions.

Which Type of CBD Do You Use?

CBD-infused gummies, edibles, and beverages were the most popular methods of consuming the cannabinoid, with 35% of respondents favoring this delivery format.

Oils and tinctures came in second with 26% reporting that they preferred to take CBD this way. Topicals and creams came in third at 14%, followed by CBD capsules at 12%. Vapes were the least popular delivery method, with only 10% of users inhaling CBD. A further 3% indicated that they relied upon other administration methods.

How Long Have You Been Using CBD?

Many respondents were fairly new to CBD, with 28% using the cannabinoid for 2-6 months. 20% reported that they had been taking CBD for 1-2 years. A further 20% reported that they had been using CBD for 6-12 months, while 17% had been taking it for a month or less. 15% were seasoned users, taking CBD for two or more years.

How Often Do You Use CBD?

When asked about frequency of use, 31% of respondents shared that they took CBD every day. A further 27% took CBD on a weekly basis, while 21% used it on a more casual basis, taking the cannabinoid once in a while for a special reason. 14% reported that they used CBD several times each day. 7% took CBD monthly.

How Much Do You Take Each Time?

There was significant variation when it came to dosage. 26% of respondents took 5-10 mg. A surprising 22% revealed that they didn’t know how much they took, because they didn’t check the dose.

Approximately 17% of respondents took 10-20 mg, while 13% took less than 5 mg. 11% of the respondents took 20-40 mg, and a further 4% took 40-70 milligrams. 3% took 70-100 mg, and 4% took a hefty dose of more than 100 mg each time.

The responses to this question yielded particularly interesting insights. 42% of the respondents admitted to determining dosage themselves, based on trial and error. 21% followed the dosage guidelines supplied on the product.

18% shared that they consulted with the doctor to determine their dosage, while a further 11% discussed dosage with their budtender or another cannabis industry professional. 8% checked an Internet article or used a dosage calculator.

A majority of 57% indicated that they were happy with the dose and still used it. 17% reported that they weren’t happy and had increased the dosage over time to enhance the therapeutic effects. 16% admitted that they were still looking to achieve the right dosage to meet their needs, and 10% said that they had decreased the dosage because the effects were too strong.

Do You Change Your Dosage Depending on Time of Day?

48% of the respondents shared that they took the same dosage of CBD, irrespective of the time of day. 32% were flexible and reported taking more CBD if they needed. 20% varied their dosage based on their specific needs at morning or night.

When Identifying Products to Buy, How Much CBD Do You Look For?

Many respondents didn’t appear to be looking for products with super high concentrations of CBD.

32% indicated that they sought out products containing 500mg-1000mg of CBD. Approximately 28% looked for products with less than 500 mg. 26% admitted that they didn’t check for CBD concentration. 9% looked for more concentrated products containing 1001-2500mg, and a further 5% sought potent CBD products with more than 2500 mg.

What Are You Taking CBD For?

The majority of respondents (31%) were taking CBD to treat pain. Anxiety and stress came in at a close second, with 26.5% using CBD to treat these conditions. A third (18%) were using CBD to help with sleep and insomnia, while just under a quarter (12.5%) took CBD to help with depression. 10% used CBD to help maintain general health and wellbeing, while the remaining 2% of respondents used CBD to treat other unspecified conditions.

In many cases, CBD was being used to treat multiple conditions such as depression and insomnia simultaneously.

Overall, How Helpful was CBD in Your Treatment?

Finally, the survey participants were asked to rank how helpful they perceived CBD to be in treating their condition. A ranking of 5 indicated that it was very helpful, while at the other end of the spectrum, a ranking of 1 indicated that it wasn’t helpful at all.

The majority of survey participants found CBD helpful to some degree. 34% found CBD to be very helpful, ranking it a 5. 32% found it helpful, ranking it a 4; while 23% were indifferent about its effects and ranked it a 3. 8% found it unhelpful and ranked it a 2, and 4% found it very unhelpful and ranked it a 1.

Methodology

Leafreport launched the survey on SurveyMonkey, with the questions targeting US-based respondents. To ensure that this criteria was met, we set restrictions on the survey so only participants located in the United States could respond.

We also set a qualifying question at the beginning of the survey. In this case, the qualifying question was “Have You Ever Used CBD Products?” Those who answered “no” and those who had not tried CBD but were curious, were automatically disqualified. A total of 721 individuals then remained to complete the survey from an initial pool of 1360 respondents.

Of the (total number of) respondents:

  • All were from the United States;
  • All were aged from 21-80 (with 40% aged 45-60, 29% aged 30-44, 18% aged 18-29, and 13% aged 60+);
  • 52% were female and 48% were male.

It’s vital to point out that this survey relied on self-reporting, so there may be some limitations. As all responses are subjective, issues such as exaggeration, or forgetfulness, may influence the veracity of responses.

The results of this survey are intended to offer a gauge of how individuals determine and adjust their CBD dosage but do not necessarily reflect Leafreport opinions.

Final Thoughts

For many people, CBD represents a therapeutic treatment laden with promise. However, as a new medicine, there’s still so much to learn about it–including how to determine optimal dosage.

The findings of this survey revealed that some CBD users aren’t checking labels, following dosage guidelines, or verifying the CBD concentration in products. While this may not be a problem if consumers are savvy and educated, it could be problematic–or even harmful–if they are simply ‘guesstimating’ their dose.

CBD can elicit biphasic effects at different doses. A low dose, for example, can ease anxiety, but a higher dose may actually elevate anxiety. As De La Rosa and Schroeder pointed out, guidelines on labels can vary dramatically between products, as can CBD concentrations. A one-size-fits-all approach to dosing that comes from the back of a box isn’t necessarily a strategy that will deliver the desired therapeutic results.

Leafreport dosing guides and general CBD guides can be invaluable resources for those who are unsure of where to start when it comes to dosage. In addition to that, the old adage of “start low, go slow” represents sound advice.

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Dr. Emma F. Stone is passionate about plant medicine and the potential it holds in transforming the current medical paradigm. She has written extensively for Leafly, Weedmaps, Flowertown, Psychedelic Science Review, and contributed to industry reports and fact sheets detailing cannabis medicine, dosage, and delivery methods for diverse conditions. She’s currently working on a book exploring plant medicine and its uses.
Eloise Theisen
Eloise Theisen
RN, MSN, AGPCNP-BC
Eloise Theisen is a board certified Adult Geriatric Nurse Practitioner who specializes in cannabis therapy. For over 20 years, Eloise has worked primarily with cancer, dementia and chronic pain patients. In the last 6 years, Eloise has focused her efforts on cannabinoid therapies. Eloise has worked with over 6500 patients to help them effectively treat age-related and chronic illness with cannabis.

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