Using cannabis as an edible begins with understanding the basic science of decarboxylation, and why it is a crucial process in making potent meals. To get the full medicinal value out of your cannabis, you need to “decarb” it before you cook with it. Learning how to properly decarboxylate cannabis from the get-go will save you a lot of time, money and product in the end.
THCA is non-psychoactive (meaning it does not produce mind and body altering effects). If you want to achieve the full psychoactive effects of your meals, decarboxylating the plant material to convert the THCA to THC (main psychoactive cannabinoid) prior to infusion is essential.
Cannabinoids, specifically THC and CBD, exist in acidic and activated forms. In the plant, these cannabinoids exist almost entirely in the acidic form and are known as THCA and CBDA. When heated, these acidic forms undergo a chemical reaction called decarboxylation that results in THCA converting to THC and CBDA converting to CBD. Complete activation occurs when heated to 220° F for 90 minutes.
Forewarning: There will be a very strong odor of cannabis during this process.
The Decarboxylation Process
- Preheat oven to 225° F / 110° C.
- Line an oven-safe dish (or a rimmed baking sheet) with parchment paper.
- Breaking up cannabis buds into smaller pieces by hand, place the material in the dish close together but not stacked on one another (the less unused space the better).
- When oven is pre-heated, bake for about 20 minutes to remove the moisture (depending on the freshness of the material). Watch for the plant color to get darker (a light to medium brown shade). When it is time to remove from the oven, the material should be crumbly looking.
- Set plant material aside and wait until it is cool enough to handle. Turn oven up to 240° F / 115° C and wait for it to preheat again.
- When the cannabis is cooled, lightly crumble by hand and distribute evenly over the bottom of the dish.
- Cover dish with aluminum foil, crimping the edges tight to seal and return to the oven. Continue baking for another 45-60 minutes for higher THC and 60-90 minutes for higher CBD.
- Remove from oven and allow to cool fully before removing the foil. Depending on the material you use, it may be fine enough and require no further processing. If not, you can place the material in a food processor or blender, pulsing the cannabis until it is coarsely ground. Be careful not to over grind the material, as you do not want a super fine powder.
Place in an airtight container (glass preferred) and store in a cool, dry place.