Cooking marijuana (cannabis) flowers into a fat, such as butter, is an ancient tradition. Marijuana edibles are traditionally made with this canna-butter. The only problem is: butter is not great for our bodies. In addition, cannabis flowers turn butter green, and make it taste “like weed”. I make all of my edibles with ice-water hash and organic oils, ie coconut or olive. Hash is the part we want from the cannabis flower, without the green flavor.
Ice-water hash (aka bubble hash or resin) works well in edibles because it is simply washed and concentrated marijuana, just the resin gland heads. These gland heads are the part of marijuana that gets us high. Hash is resin gland heads (trichomes), this is where the cannabinoids and terpenoids can be found in high levels. Terpenoids are the group of molecules responsible for marijuana’s alluring smells. These terpenoids also modulate the high dramatically. The cannabinoids have many medicinal properties. One special group of cannabinoids, the THC group, has psychoactive properties aka good times. Point is: Hash is just rinsed and concentrated marijuana.
Hash eating has been likened to hallucinogens, more than smoking marijuana. A famous story called the Hasheesh Eater was published by Putnam’s Magazine, September 1856. It has a somewhat silly take on hash, and can be read here: http://www.lycaeum.org/~sputnik/Ludlow/THE/index.html BUT the best part is:
“Of course I saw nothing as yet; for, be it known, that the effect of the hasheesh is not immediate; half an hour or even an hour must elapse before the mind can fully feel its influence. I told them so, and I went on talking in my ordinary style until they thought that I had been jesting with them, and had taken nothing. But forty minutes had not passed before I began to feel the usual symptoms, the sudden nervous thrill, followed by the whirl and prodigious apparent enlargement of the brain. My head expanded wider and wider, revolving with inconceivable rapidity, and enlarging in space with every revolution. It filled the room — the house — the city; it became a world, peopled with the shapes of men and monsters. I spun away into its great vortex, and wandered about its expanses as about a universe. I lost all perception of time and space, and knew no distinction between the realities around me, and the phantasmata which sprung in endless succession from my brain.”
As opposed to smoking marijuana, which is harsh on the throat and lungs, eating it is relatively gentle on the body. Some parents are choosing medical marijuana edibles to help their autistic children (uf4a the unconventional foundation for autism http://www.uf4a.org). Other parents are helping their children cope with severe OCD (http://abcnews.go.com/2020/video/medical-marijuana-kids-11241700) by using marijuana edibles. Elderly patients and the seriously ill are also primarily treating themselves with edible medical marijuana. Personally, I eat half of a hash capsule in the evening. I use a couple tricks to make the hash infuse into the oil as completely as possible. That’s Part 2: Just do it
Ingesting marijuana and hash, aka eating it, brings very different affects compared to smoking. Veteran smokers are often floored by a standard strength edible. Why is this? What about tolerance? Why do high tolerance smokers get so high from standard edibles?
The simple answer is that smoking Cannabis creates delta-9-THC, and eating it makes 11-hydroxy-THC, which is 10x more psychoactive than delta-9-THC.
When you smoke marijuana or hash the delta-9-THC goes into your blood, and then straight to your brain, where THC binds to receptors in your brain. This is why we feel high immediately after smoking.
Edibles are different. When you eat an edible it goes into your stomach, where it gets digested and enters your GI tract. The delta-9-THC in the edible enters your blood stream after about 30 minutes. Once the delta-9-THC enters your blood stream from your GI tract it goes to your liver. Your liver does something amazing. It converts delta-9-THC into 11-hydroxy-THC, which is TEN TIMES MORE PSYCHOACTIVE. This 11-hydroxy-THC then goes to our brains and binds to our cannabinoid receptors. Then seasoned smokers feel like we are almost tripping on Cannabis edibles.
The affects of edibles take longer to come on due to how it enters our blood and moves to our brains. These affects also last longer, and can be more powerful due to 11-hydroxy-THC. The contents of your stomach, body size, metabolism, and other biochemical factors will make the affects of edibles slightly different for everyone.
THC is the famous molecule group in marijuana, it gets us high, and THC receives most of the attention. CBD is the other dominant molecule group in marijuana. CBD has been catching up to THC in the medical marijuana field because it mellows the psychoactive affects of THC. The naturally occurring forms of THC and CBD in Cannabis (marijuana) plants are THC-A and CBD-A, and these molecules are not psychoactive. This means raw marijuana won’t get you high. Although eating raw Cannabis has many health benefits. That’s Part 3: Why Eat Cannabis
To get high from Cannabis we first use heat to break the “-A” off of the “THC-A” and “CBD-A”. For smoking marijuana, this happens as you burn, the heat of the fire breaks the “-A” off and we get high from THC and CBD. The process of removing the “-A” group is known as decarboxylation. The “-A” is a carboxyl group (COOH). Enough nerd talk. In simple terms, you have to activate the THC before you eat it.
The general rule for decarboxylating THC-A into THC is 90 minutes at 212F (100 C) degrees. That’s the temperature of boiling water. The idea is you double boil your marijuana/hash in fat for 90 minutes, strain, and use that butter or oil to cook, or even better eat without further cooking.
This is a Double Boiler (bain marie):
This Chart shows the increase in THC levels (from decarboxylation of THC-A), over time at several temperatures. This increase in THC via decarboxylation is then followed by a decrease due to degradation of THC into CBN. Notice that common baking temperatures (350F) aren’t even on this chart as that is way too hot for THC.
This would be a more informative chart if the time frame was extended to 24+ hours. I use low heat for a long time, usually 24 hours at 180F (93C) degrees. We’ll get to my methods soon. Part 2: Just do it
The next diagram shows what’s happening on the molecular level during decarboxylation for the organic chemistry students.
The reasons I prefer to use hash for edibles are many. Ice-water extracted hash (bubble hash) has been rinsed clean. The process of separating the trichome heads from trim in ice-water, and catching them in silk screen bags, washes away: dirt, dust, mold, mildew, and pollen. These contaminants are found on nearly 85% of medical Cannabis, although only 3% is deemed unsuitable for consumption.
Exposure to high levels of microorganisms such as molds and bacteria are known to cause health problems and can be particularly dangerous to patients that have existing medical problems. The Steep Hill Microbiological Screening Program ensures the safety of medical cannabis by identifying the type and level of microorganisms present in the medicine. Molds are ubiquitous and small amounts are found in almost every sample. However patients with existing health problems should not be exposed to medicines that contain large amounts. Medicines that contain bacteria should be destroyed.
Examples of molds and bacteria that can found in medical cannabis: Aspergillus, Pennicillium, Cladosporium, Alternaria, yeasts, and Escherichia Coli.
The general rule for cooking with medical marijuana: 1 Ounce Trim = ¼ Ounce Flowers = 4g Hash
I’ll use this colorful macro image to demonstrate my last point about edible preparation. Notice the trichomes (mushroom shape) and the cystolith hairs (looks like spurs). These spurs are made of calcium carbonate, and act in defense of the plant. But patients with compromised GI tracts can’t handle these “sharp” plant spurs. The hash making process removes most of these spurs from the medicine as well. We collect only the capitate stalked glandular trichome heads.
Dry Preparation refers to the process of making “Cannabis flour”. This is simply dried and ground marijuana flowers. The ground up bud is used to replace part of the dry ingredients (flour) in everyday baked goods. Generally 10% of the flour is replaced with canna-flour. Do not go over 20% for any sort of edible that needs to rise, that’s where the gluten from flour is needed the most. I do not suggest this method of ingesting Cannabis as it tastes bad and is the least potent.
1) Remove all stems & seeds from the buds.
2) Grind Flowers: I prepare small batches of canna-flour using a coffee grinder, although high quality blenders will work well, and so will sharp food processors.
3) Sift: to remove any chunks. Re-grind the chunks. The buds have to be very dry or this will not work.
4) Store Air Tight: the cannabinoids will degrade overtime, and this will be accelerated if exposed to oxygen, moisture, and light.
5) Vacuum Sealing Jars: I use a vacuum sealer with the jars designed to seal. If you do not have vacuum sealer access use the smallest jar possible and pack the canna-flour in tight to remove any air.
An infusion is the outcome of steeping plants with desired chemical compounds and/or flavors in water or oil.
An extract is a substance made by extracting a part of a raw material, often by using a solvent such as ethanol or water. Extracts may be sold as tinctures or in powder form
These are somewhat the same term when it comes to tinctures. The cannabinoids (the name given to compounds in marijuana alone, over 90 discovered!) are oil soluble, which also means they are alcohol soluble. We can start with slow infusions (tinctures) as they are ancient and practical.
The common infusion products are butters, ghee, oils, alcohols, and glycerin. This is different from smoke-able extractions, like products made using acetone and butane. Buds, or hash, are soaked in any of these infusion products, and heated to decarboxylate the THC/CBD. Then the oils ect are strained and consumed, delivering the THC/CBD; as well as the other oil soluble cannabinoids and terpenoids. The terpenes, commonly known as “essential oils”, are the compounds responsible for scent.
Here is a picture of many Cannabis tinctures from 90 so years ago, pre-prohibition.
Cannabis tinctures were common in America pre-1930s. Cannabis was then criminalized by the Federal Government, for horribly misguided and racist reasons, proving to be a costly and failed “war on drugs”. Medical marijuana is directly in conflict with federal government laws and position to this day, even though the federal government owns the patent on Cannabis as antioxidants and neuroprotectants.
“Abstract Cannabinoids have been found to have antioxidant properties, unrelated to NMDA receptor antagonism. This new found property makes cannabinoids useful in the treatment and prophylaxis of wide variety of oxidation associated diseases, such as ischemic, age-related, inflammatory and autoimmune diseases. The cannabinoids are found to have particular application as neuroprotectants, for example in limiting neurological damage following ischemic insults, such as stroke and trauma, or in the treatment of neurodegenerative diseases, such as Alzheimer’s disease, Parkinson’s disease and HIV dementia. Nonpsychoactive cannabinoids, such as cannabidoil, are particularly advantageous to use because they avoid toxicity that is encountered with psychoactive cannabinoids at high doses useful in the method of the present invention.”
According the the US Fed’s take on cannabinoids, they seem to be our wonder drugs. Able to prevent cancer and degenerative brain disease, are you kidding me!? Prophylaxis and Treatment in one package!? In the medical field cannabis tinctures have been documented as effective for thousands of years. This may be the best way to consume your cannabinoids because you get to take advantage of the sublingual membranes.
This next site is all about how and why sublingual membranes are the superior way to absorb medicine. I will let you read more there if you want all the details.
“Both the buccal and sublingual membranes offer advantages over other routes of administration. For example, drugs administered through the buccal and sublingual routes have a rapid onset of action, reach high levels in the blood, avoid the first-pass effect of hepatic metabolism, and avoid exposure of the drug to fluids of the gastrointestinal tract. Additional advantages include easy access to the membrane sites so that the drug can be applied, localized, and removed easily. Further, there is good potential for prolonged delivery through the buccal membrane. M. Rathbone & J. Hadgraft, 74 Int’l J. of Pharmaceutics 9 (1991).
The sublingual mucosa includes the membrane of the ventral surface of the tongue and the floor of the mouth whereas the buccal mucosa constitutes the lining of the cheek. The sublingual mucosa is relatively permeable, thus giving rapid absorption and acceptable bioavailabilities of many drugs. Further, the sublingual mucosa is convenient, accessible, and generally well accepted.” http://curezone.com/forums/fm.asp?i=986942
Glycerin: Glycerin is a neutral, sweet-tasting, colorless, thick liquid which freezes to a gummy paste and which has a high boiling point. Glycerin can be dissolved into water or alcohol, but not oils. And is a byproduct of soap-making
Glycerin is also highly “hygroscopic” which means that it absorbs water from the air. This means glycerin tinctures must be kept air free until use, and are best used in entirety upon opening. Many dispensary glycerin products come in single dose sizes.
Glycerin must be diluted with water or it may cause blistering.
Vegetable glycerin has nearly no impact on blood sugar or insulin and is very low in calories (4.3 per gram)
Organic Grape Alcohol: Food Grade and High Proof
This is the best alcohol I’ve ever found in California hands down. Other options include any booze over 150 proof ie moonshine, 151, or everclear. But these are not as pure as organic grape (or grain) alcohol.
“Grape sugars are unique, and because of their unique actions, grape alcohol does a superior job of extracting medicinal plant constituents. In addition, organic grape alcohol is hypo-allergenic and guaranteed 100% free of genetic modification.”
Making tincture is ancient and practical. What is important to remember when making tinctures is dosages and pre-decarboxylation.
Pre-Decarboxylate the trim/buds/hash to be used for tincture by baking at 212 Degrees for 90 Minutes.
1 Ounce Trim = ¼ Ounce Flowers = 4g Hash
Put Cannabis & alcohol in a glass jar.
2 oz. shake & 1 pint alcohol
Put the glass jar in a brown paper bag, then into the freezer. Shake it!
Three to Four Days
Strain with Cheesecloth
Into Glass Jars and the Dark
5-15 Drops per Dose
Same proportions as freezer method
Fill jar with Cannabis and alcohol.
Shake & store in the dark up to 6 months.
Strain & Bottle
Note: If using hash do not strain.
Next up we get serious about making edibles. Rize UP!