Understanding Marijuana Decarboxylation
I have consumed a lot of edibles and consumables over the years. Like most Oregonians, I was consuming edibles well before there were stores. I vividly remember the first time I saw marijuana butter. My best friend worked at a video rental store (how dated is that!) and his boss gifted him some butter for Christmas. The butter looked yellow with marijuana sparsely mixed throughout. We made brownies with it, ate as much as we could, with no results except stomach aches.
Since that time I have made my own edibles from scratch, and purchased many from dispensaries. Some edibles hit their mark, while others don’t provide anymore euphoria than a regular non-infused snack. While there could be a number of reasons for this, one likely contributing factor is whether or not the cannabis that was infused into the butter, oil, or whatever went into the edible wasn’t properly decarboxylated.
Decarboxylation is a very scientific process. I am by no means a scientist, but I know someone who is an official marijuana scientist. I met Sirius J from High Times at this year’s Hempstalk event in Portland. He is a leading scientific mind in the marijuana world, and below is what he had to say about decarboxylation:
Take a look at the mechanism and the variables behind decarboxylation, to make sure you get higher the next time you make edibles. THC, and all cannabinoids, starts out with an acid group that prevents it from directly affecting the mind if consumed raw. This carboxy group evaporates off when heated, so cannabis mostly gets consumed cooked, smoked or vaporized. Juicing raw cannabis has its medicinal benefits, but if you want to get high you’ll need to cook it, and you’ll need to do it right so you don’t waste it.
I have made my fair share of marijuana butter over the years, and have made it with and without decarbing the marijuana that went into it. Just because someone doesn’t decarb doesn’t mean that the entire process is a waste. If you use potent marijuana and make the butter or oil properly in every other way other than decarbing, chances are it will still pack a punch, albeit not as much as if the cannabis had been decarbed.
The most common way of decarbing cannabis is by putting it in the oven. I usually use trim when I’m decarbing, and I chop it up pretty thoroughly. There’s a lot of debate out there as to what is the best temperature and duration to decarb marijuana in an oven. There was a scientific study conducted to find the perfect temperature and duration for decarbing, the results of which were released in 2011, which found the following:
Under the experimental conditions, the highest yield to Delta 9-THC was obtained at 110 °C and 110 min.
110 degrees Celsius converts to 230 Fahrenheit. I have heard of people doing a slightly higher temperature for a shorter duration, but for those that want an objective starting point, chop up your cannabis, put it on a baking tray, and bake it accordingly. After 110 minutes your cannabis should be ready to make into butter, oil or whatever else you have a solid recipe for.
image via TheChillBud.com