A higher focus
OLO’s Focus sublingual strips versus Level’s Stimulate tablinguals. Which sharpens the mind’s eye best?
As a cannabis enthusiast, one thing I love about the stuff is how varied it is. Perky sativas get me going for exercise and creative brainstorming. Heavy indicas are awesome for savoring every last bite of a homemade meal and then drifting off to sweet sleep. I’m into flower, vape, edibles, tinctures and lubes.
And while I save most of that stuff for evenings and weekends, when I heard about cannabis products designed to enhance focus, my interest was piqued in part because I work at home and can get distracted by dishes, or my dog, but mainly because focus is, generally speaking, a good thing that everyone could use a little more of now and then.
My budtender recommended two products: OLO’s Focus ($45 for 12 strips), which comes in 5 milligram sublingual strips, and Level’s Stimulate ($50 for 15 tablinguals), which comes in the form of sublingual tabs containing 1 milligram of THC, 1 milligram of THCV and 1 milligram of CBG. The terpene profiles of both products are proprietary, but presumably both blends are crafted to enhance concentration.
I should preface this by stating that my THC tolerance level is rather low. It’s gotten, ahem, higher over time, but bear in mind that I’m a frequent, not heavy, user and that my cannabinoid receptors might be on the sensitive side.
I tried the OLO product first. The taste was minty and pleasant, and the strip dissolved quickly. Within 15 minutes, I was feeling it. Yes, my focus was amplified, but a bit unpleasantly so. As in, I was intensely annoyed while I was clicking away at my keyboard and my dog barked. I also developed a tight feeling in my skull—not a headache, exactly, but disagreeable nonetheless. Still, I worked pretty furiously for a short time and my appetite was initially suppressed.
I wasn’t attempting chores or online shopping, but work that required actual concentration. At the peak of the product’s potency, that proved too taxing. After puzzling for way too long over a single sentence, I realized that my brain was swimmy (i.e. I was high), and started to sense the THC-induced rumble in the tummy. So I switched gears to lunch—which I found extremely interesting and quite easy to focus on.
After eating, I tried working again. While certain aspects of focus still seemed a bit elusive, I noticed more creativity and parallel thinking—both handy at times. From start to finish, the OLO product lasted about three hours, and I got a bit less work done than I normally would have in that time.
For the sake of science, I tried half of an OLO strip on a different day and felt many more benefits: a focused feeling minus the tension of the full dose—altered and creative, but not at all swimmy in the brain.
On another workday, I gave Level’s Stimulate product a go. I was particularly curious about this one because it contains THC, THCV and CBG. THCV is known to modulate some of the negative effects of THC such as paranoia, and also to suppress appetite (which can get distracting when you’re trying to concentrate on work and snacks are all you can think about). And CBG is a non-psychoactive cannabinoid thought to have a number of therapeutic uses.
The label recommends starting with one tablingual, which felt barely psychoactive and provided a subtle lift to my energy—like caffeine without the jitters. My focus seemed moderately honed. The next time, I tried two tablinguals and the focusing benefits were amplified—but I still didn’t feel high, at least not in the typical way. And since I’m thorough, I tried three tablinguals, which amounts to 6 milligrams of combined THC and THCV (plus 3 milligrams of CBG) that I thought would get me at least moderately high. But again, I felt less high, and more focused than when using a single strip of the OLO product. I was able to research, synthesize information and write clearly using Level’s Stimulate product. My brain functions felt competent, though not particularly creative.
OLO Focus pros: The full 5 milligram might be your best bet if you have high tolerance to THC, or need to “concentrate” on yard work or folding laundry or doing your taxes, but not if you have low to average tolerance and need to turn out actual work, like for your job. Half an OLO strip yields decent concentration and creative impetus without fuzziness.
OLO Focus cons: Regular dosage is too intense for work.
Level Stimulate pros: Subtle lift to energy and concentration, good for focusing on details and resisting the urge to check social media.
Level Stimulate cons: Expensive, doesn’t seem to provide a boost to creativity.