There are a lot of YouTube videos on using your Instant Pot pressure cooker to decarb cannabis. Because it uses pressure, the Instant Pot can reach temperatures of 245 degrees Fahrenheit before water boils. It maintains this temperature evenly during the period it is pressure cooking. Some bright cannabis fans discovered that you can pop your weed into a mason jar, screw the lid “finger-tight,” add 2 cups of water, and cook it for 40 minutes. This heating (or decarboxylation) converts the non-psychoactive THCA to the psychoactive delta 9 THC. While this process works for THC (and also for CBG) it does not produce enough heat to decarb CBD.
Toasted Blonde has one of the more entertaining videos showing how the Instant Pot decarb works for THC.
What about converting CBDA to CBD? Cannabidiol (CBD) requires either higher temperatures or longer decarb times. The makers of the Ardent Nova decarboxylator recommend running the decarb cycle twice if you are decarbing CBD hemp flower instead of THC marijuana. The same principle works for the Instant Pot. You decarb the hemp flower for 80 minutes instead of 40 minutes. (Ardent just announced a new version with different cycles for THC and CBD – and they recommend using the THC cycle if you are decarbing CBG-dominant cannabis.)
If you are using the Instant Pot to infuse CBD oil you can decarb for 40 minutes, wait for the flower to cool, add MCT oil to the mason jar, and run the Instant Pot for an additional 40 minutes. By the end of the process you will have a home-made CBD oil that will need to be filtered through a coffee filter or a commercial filter. It will probably taste more herbal and possibly more smoky than the CBD oil/tincture you buy.
Decarbing cannabis on a baking sheet in the oven can be a smelly process no matter how many smell barriers you erect. The Instant Pot method only smells a little bit. That’s another major advantage. If you have an Instant Pot then you should really try this method.
The FDA is increasingly cracking down on CBD products in the marketplace. New rules are expected later in 2020 and there has been a lot of speculation about what might be banned. The FDA is charged with (among other things) protecting the public from unsafe foods and drugs. They also have responsibility for regulating “dietary supplements.” They have been active in warning companies that make health claims when marketing CBD, and many companies use the familiar “dietary supplement” label when listing how much CBD is in their products.
Hemp flower is an agricultural product; and is obviously not a dietary supplement. It closely resembles marijuana, and a few states have even banned “smokable hemp” because it is hard to distinguish it from marijuana. It remains legal in most states, and it is one of the least expensive ways to get CBD and other cannabinoids into your system. The 2018 Farm Bill made hemp legal federally, and the FDA does not appear to have jurisdiction over the sale of agricultural products such as hemp flower.
In 2020 most hemp flower is CBD-dominant, with CBD being the primary cannabinoid present. CBG-dominant flower is newer and less is known about it and its effects. Studies thus far have found anti-cancer and anti-microbial benefits. Research is ongoing. If highly-processed CBG products become popular the FDA may step in and regulate them too. CBG flower and CBG-dominant full-spectrum hemp oil will be harder to regulate.
Full spectrum hemp oil is only one step removed from the hemp plant. Hemp oil is created when hemp is processed in such a way that the alcohol and/or oil soluable components are extracted from the plant. These are then dissolved in a neutral oil (such as MCT oil) and they resulting “hemp oil” is sold in small bottles. This oil generally contains CBD if the hemp strain is a high-CBD hemp strain. If the hemp strain is a high CBG hemp strain then the resulting hemp oil will be an oil that is high in CBG instead.
The FDA gets involved based on the labeling of products such as CBD oil. If the label includes instructions for taking the product by mouth, then the FDA likely has reason to view it as a dietary supplement, a medication, or a food product. If the label is mute on the use of the oil, then the FDA may not have any reason to regulate the sale of the product.
Those of us living in the U.S. are currently awaiting the FDA’s new regulations. While you wait, consider trying hemp flower. Most people seem to be smoking it like marijuana, but vaping is safer. (Vaping the dry herb is much safer than vaping a commercial liquid product.) You can also heat it and eat it. The cost per milligram of CBD is much lower in the raw product and you have a better chance of getting the “entourage effect.”
There is a lot of information online about how to decarb THC flower (marijuana). There is less information about decarbing CBD hemp flower. There is almost no information about decarbing CBG hemp flower. If you want to add CBG to your edibles or topicals you will need to decarb it first. This heat converts CBGA to CBG. CBGA may have its own health benefits, but like most raw cannabinoids it has not been studied a much as its activated molecule.
We do have some hints about decarb temps for CBG. A 2016 study looked at different decarb temperatures for different cannabinoids. Hidden deep within the study is a very interesting table that compares THC, CBD, and CBG when heated to different temperatures. The researchers found that 20 minutes at 130 degrees Celsius (260 degrees F) were sufficient to convert almost all of the CBGA to CBG. 40 minutes at 110 degrees C (230 degrees F) did almost as well, producing slightly less CBG from the material.
It would be reasonable to assume that 30 to 40 minutes at 240 to 260 degrees F would convert CBG hemp flower into active CBG to be used in edibles and topicals. Interestingly, this is the same temperature that some people are using when they decarb in a mason jar inside an Instant Pot or other pressure cooker.
Why would you want to decarb CBG flower? CBG has health benefits and it seems to intensify the effects of CBD when the two are taken together. Edibles are a way to take cannabinoids as medication and avoid any possible damage to the lungs. The effects also last longer when the medication is taken orally.
Beginning with the 2019 Fall harvest the online market has seen a new type of Cannabis for sale. CBG (Cannabigerol) hemp flower refers to the female flowers of hemp plants that are bred to produce primarily CBG rather than CBD. The flowers actually contain CBGA – the acid form of CBG (just as THC flowers contain mostly THCA and CBD flowers contain mostly CBDA). Heat is needed to convert these acid forms of the cannabinoids to their bioavailable forms (without the A). Most people know about marijuana flower, often called bud. CBD hemp flower is also becoming popular since the 2018 farm bill legalized it. The difference between these plants has to do with the dominant cannabinoid that they produce. Marijuana flower is highest in THC, while CBD hemp flower is highest in CBD. The new flower is highest in CBG.
CBG is sometimes referred to as the “stem cell” cannabinoid. Cannabis plants produce CBGA relatively early in their lifespan and much of it is converted to THCA and CBDA as the plant matures. Plant scientists have bred new strains of cannabis where this conversion has been blocked. Flowers from these plants are high in CBG once the plant material has been heated (decarbed).
When using cannabis medically the goal is to consume enough to get symptom relief without becoming intoxicated or impaired. THC flowers (marijuana), when consumed in enough quantity, make you high (intoxicated). CBD flowers relax you without making you high. CBG hemp flowers are drier than the more traditional CBD flowers and they produce different effects, which are difficult to describe. If THC gives you a “head high” and CBD gives you a “body buzz,” then CBG might be said to give you a “mind-body buzz”. Some users report that CBG flowers enhance the effects of CBD when both are consumed together. These CBG flowers are so new (as of this post in November 2019) that there is no real consensus as to their effects. Some early users of CBG flower report a clear-headed sense of relaxation without the sedation that accompanies some CBD flowers, but others do report sedation. As with all cannabis, the terpene profiles may also influence the effects. CBG itself is known to fight some forms of cancer, to reduce intraocular pressure, and to fight some infections.
I believe we are still in the early days of understanding these natural healing substances. Hemp that is high in other cannabinoids may be right around the corner. Innovative companies like PotLuckExpo and Kanabia are already offering hemp-based products featuring exotic natural cannabinoids such as CBG, CBN, and THC-V. I have updated the shopping section to include note of places to buy GBG Flower Online.