In today’s episode of “How to NOT get High with Cannabis,” we’re exploring what happens when you consume cannabis raw — in other words, cannabis that has not been “decarboxylated.”
Did you know that unless cannabis is heated, it won’t produce intoxicating effects?
This is why it is often smoked and decarboxylated or “toasted” before making edibles or other ingestible products.
All major cannabinoids (including THC and CBD) start out as another cannabinoid entirely: CBGA. As the cannabis plant grows and develops, CBGA is converted into other cannabinoids like THCA and CBDA. But these acidic cannabinoids (those with an “A”) are not intoxicating because their molecular structure makes them unable to “fit” into our cannabinoid receptors.
To remove the acid part of a cannabinoid, the plant must be exposed to heat and/or light to “activate” it — this is known as decarboxylation, or the process of removing an acid or “a” molecule by releasing a carbon atom.
If you’ve ever made your own edibles, you’ve probably done this before. Typically, people “toast” their cannabis in the oven at somewhere between 220-250 degrees Fahrenheit for 30-45 minutes before combining it with butter or creating a tincture or other infused product. But if you don’t want the intoxicating effects that THC produces, you don’t have to decarboxylate it before creating your product!
These acidic cannabinoids have tons of therapeutic benefits of their own.
One of the best ways to consume these cannabinoids is to eat raw cannabis; the unheated leaves and buds can be added to smoothies, salads, and sprinkled on dishes like any other herb for nutrients without producing intoxication. It’s best to do this with fresh cannabis, so this method is best for patients who have their own at-home grows or caregivers who can provide raw cuttings.
If you do decide to infuse your cannabis with an oil for cooking, be aware that at least some of the THCA is likely to become THC when exposed to heat; if you want to avoid this, try a cold infusion. Download our ebook tutorial here for instructions!
Also note that if you do juice cannabis, be sure to keep it cold; allowing it to get warm can activate the cannabinoids.
Interested in more information about the properties of various cannabinoids? Click here to learn!