If you pluck a flower bud from a marijuana plant, pop it in your mouth and swallow it, you will not get high. There is no THC in raw marijuana. THCA is the compound in raw marijuana that converts to THC when exposed to heat.
When we light a bowl on fire or heat up a vaporizer, THCA is converted to THC and we get high. Decarboxylation is the process of heating marijuana until the THCA has converted to THC (CBDA is also present in the marijuana plant and converts to CBD when heated) and is the first step when creating any infused product.
Infused products in dispensaries are made with marijuana that has already been decarboxylated. When you make your own marijuana infused edibles and topicals at home, you need to do the decarboxylation process before you infuse marijuana into butter, oil or alcohol.
If you skip the decarboxylation step, you will end up with non-psychoactive, yet powerful medicine. THCA and CBDA are strong anti-inflammatories and pain relievers. The reason some people juice raw cannabis leaves is to get the benefits of THCA. Topical skin treatments are more effective with fresh, non-decarboxylated marijuana, too.
For marijuana infused medicine with a full range of cannabinoids, including THCA and THC, follow the instructions for decarboxylation but only keep cannabis in the oven for half the time so only half of the cannabinoids convert and the other half remain THCA and CBDA.
The good news is that decarbing is easy. As a commercial producer I am able to do a potency test to make sure all of the cannabinoids have fully converted, but at home we can't check, so we go by time and temperature. The higher the temperature you set your oven at, the less time the plant needs to bake. High temps destroy cannabinoids and terpenes, so we want to keep temps low and decarb for longer periods of time for the most effective medicine.
Be aware that the decarboxylation process creates a strong odor. Open windows and turn on fans to air out the kitchen.
CBDA takes longer to convert to CBD, and larger amounts of marijuana take longer to fully decarb, so adjust the hour as needed. An eighth of high THC flower might only need 30 minutes, while high CBD strains need an hour to fully convert the cannabinoids. You know your flower is ready when it changes from green to brown and becomes toasty and dry. If there are still green flecks in the flower, put it back in the oven for another 10 minutes and check again.
We blanch vegetables to make them taste good, and we can do the same thing to cannabis. To give your cannabutter or canna oil a lighter color and more delicate flavor, blanch marijuana before decarboxylating and infusing into butter, oil or alcohol. This process removes chlorophyll without destroying the medicinal compounds in marijuana.
Just like blanching vegetables, drop marijuana flowers into boiling water for 3-4 minutes, then quickly plunge into a bowl of ice water. Let dry, then grind and decarboxylate blanched marijuana flowers like normal.I like to blanch the day before I decarb and infuse, and I lay my wet flower out to dry overnight.
Yield: Decarboxylation releases moisture and results in a 10-12% decrease in weight, so an ounce of marijuana (28 grams) dries out to 24-25 grams.
Preheat oven to 250 degrees.
Coarsely grind marijuana to break down flower buds. Place marijuana on a baking sheet or dish and wrap with foil to protect terpenes.
Bake for 30 minutes. Pull from the oven, peel back the foil and stir. Return to oven for another 30 minutes. It’s finished when the color has turned a lightly toasted brown and is bone dry. If any bits of marijuana are still green, there is still THCA in the plant matter. Return to the oven until every bit has turned brown.
Remove from oven and allow to cool before removing foil.
Spray marijuana with a light coating of Everclear to break down cellulose. This step reduces the green hue of the butter, oil or alcohol infusion.
When dry, store in an airtight jar in a cool, dry place for several months.
Make sure your baking sheet has sides and a smooth bottom. Otherwise the plant matter will get stuck in the tray or slide off the sides.
Or use a glass baking dish and aluminum foil.
The only other thing you need is a silicone spatula (or your clean fingertips) to sweep the baked marijuana out of the baking dish and into your infusion machine/jar/pot.
You can also use an oven bag instead of a pan/dish or sheet.
And that's it. Now your marijuana flower is ready to be infused into edibles or topicals.
If you have any questions, leave them in the comments.