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Cannabis Decarboxylation

Check out the video below on cannabis decarboxylation and why it's so important for edibles!


Video Transcript:

Hello everyone, I’m Brandon Allen with Trichome Institute, and in this video I’m going to talk about decarboxylation and how important this process is for edibles and other orally consumed cannabis products.  

For this discussion we’re going to primarily focus on THC and CBD.

Now, when we think about the most common cannabinoids like THC and CBD, these cannabinoids don’t actually occur in the plant at significant levels.  Instead, the compounds THCA and CBDA are what the raw plant primarily consists of. 

The A at the end, stands for Acid, and the best way to think of cannabinoids like THCA and CBDA, would be in their raw state.  

When these cannabinoids are exposed to heat or are oxidized over a period of time, they go through a process called Decarboxylation.

Without getting super technical, this process essentially changes the shape of the cannabinoids, and removes the carboxyl group, or what makes their name have an “acid” at the end, and transforms them into their neutral form.

Now, although the majority of CBD or THC in raw cannabis flower is going to be in their ACID form, decarboxylation can happen at room temperature over longer periods of time as well.  

This is why when you look at a cannabis lab test, you will see both THCA and THC, or CBDA and CBD, and then total THC or CBD.

Whenever you’re determining the sum of THCA and THC as an example, you can’t just add them together. If you have 100 mg of pure THCA, and then decarboxylate it, you’ll be left with approximately 87 mg of THC, because the carboxyl group falls off, essentially  making the cannabinoid lose molecular weight.  This happens with all acid cannabinoids, but the amount of weight they lose, will vary from cannabinoid to cannabinoid.

Decarboxylation is really important when we’re consuming cannabinoids because the neutral forms of THC and CBD are much more potent than their acid forms.  This doesn’t mean there isn’t a time and place for THCA and CBDA, but I assure you, 10 mg of THCA isn’t going to be anywhere near as potent as 10MG of THC.

When it comes to cannabis edibles, tinctures, pills, capsules, or anything else that you swallow, decarboxylation is crucial, especially for THC. 

Without decarboxylating THCA before ingesting it, you will never feel “high”.  In order for your liver to create 11-hydroxy-THC,  it needs THC, not THCA.  If you were to simply ingest THCA, there may be medicinal benefits if you have the right dose, but it’s not going to make you feel high.

Although THCA and CBDA can decarboxylate at room temperature over a longer period of time, heat is ultimately what’s needed to transform these cannabinoids into their neutral forms.

In 2016 researchers experimented with isolated cannabinoids to determine the best temperature and time for decarboxylation.  They determined that under vacuum, without any light exposure to prevent oxidation or degradation, that the best temperature and time for THCA was 230*F for 40 minutes, and for CBDA, 266*F for 40 minutes

This is something that everyone needs to keep in mind when making edibles at home with either hemp or marijuana flower.  In order to get the most out of your dominant cannabinoid, you need to make sure you’re working with the proper temperatures so you’re getting the most potent neutral cannabinoids as possible.

Hope y’all enjoyed this video on decarboxylation!  If you’d like to learn more about the ins and outs of cannabis, be sure to visit trichomeinstitute.com and check out our online courses that will help you Weed Better!