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.
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.
We also have information on how to decarb CBD hemp flower.
The stereotype is that marijuana makes you stupid. This certainly seems to happen in the short run. Marijuana has been shown to negatively impact cognitive processes in adolescents. Short-term memory suffers in adults too; as pot smokers forget things – why they just entered that room, for example. In medical cannabis this is considered “the negative side-effect of impairment.” When dosing medical cannabis the goal is usually to dose low enough that impairment is minimized. Research has shown that in some cases cannabis is neurprotective. It may prevent damage to brain cells. Can medical marijuana help improve cognitive functioning?
A 2016 study led by Staci Gruber, Ph.D. suggests that medical marijuana may actually improve executive functioning in adults. Dr. Gruber works at the McLean Hospital Imaging Center in Belmont, Massachusetts and is on the faculty of the Harvard Medical School. She and her colleagues followed 24 certified medical-marijuana patients over a three-month dosing period. Their cognitive skills were measured with a battery of tests that included the Stroop Color Word Test and Trail Making Test.
Subjects in the research improved in their speed of performance on these two tests and their accuracy remained constant. The authors acknowledge that there is a possibility that this improvement in speed is due to “practice effects.” We tend to do better on a test when we have taken the test before. The authors cited past studies that people taking these particular tests don’t usually improve, even with weekly “practice.”
The authors note that the medical marijuana patients participating in the study also reported improvements in many of their symptoms.
You can read the full study here:
Splendor in the Grass? A Pilot Study Assessing the Impact of Medical Marijuana on Executive Function
If you are interested in edibles there is one really easy way to get started. The easiest edibles are “firecrackers.” These consist of graham crackers, peanut butter and cannabis. Chocolate graham crackers work well, and I’ve also seen recipes that use Nutella instead of peanut butter. If you are using decarbed hemp cannabis (cannabis with <.3% THC) you can probably start with a level teaspoon of decarbed “trim” or “shake” plant material. You can also use ground flower, but start with a little less. If you are using high THC cannabis (marijuana) you should definitely start with less, and eat only a small portion of the resulting product – waiting at least an hour to gauge the effects. (I haven’t personally tried this with high THC cannabis.)
Cover one side of the graham cracker with smooth peanut butter. Sprinkle the cannabis onto the peanut butter and close the graham cracker carefully. As long as you decarbed the cannabis first, you are ready to eat!
A firecracker made with chocolate graham crackers and peanut butter.
If the cannabis is not decarbed then you need to heat the firecracker in an oven or toaster oven for around 20 minutes. Wrap the little sandwiches in aluminum foil and place in a pre-heated oven. The temperature should be at least 300 degrees but not over 350.
Edibles can take between 1 and 2 hours to reach full effects and the effects last longer than inhaled cannabis. With CBD you won’t feel much, but possibly a deep feeling of relaxation, sometimes referred to as a “body high.” You may need to experiment with how much plant material to use. Even decarbed hemp flower contains some THC along with the CBD. It’s possible to become impaired (high) eating firecrackers made with hemp if you use too much.
You can even use ABV (already been vaped) plant material in a firecracker – but you will need to use more of it. When you vaped your cannabis you heated it, but you probably didn’t evaporate all of the CBD or THC. Using this ABV material in an edible allows you to get the rest.
Wonder what would happen if you eat hemp flower or marijuana bud? Probably not what you think. The THC and CBD in cannabis emerge only after it is heated. Raw, unheated cannabis contains mostly CBDA and THCA. They are in an “acid form” and not available as THC or CBD to the body. (You won’t get high or get some of the benefits of CBD.) Scientists are discovering that the cannabinoids THCA and CBDA do have some benefits of their own. CBDA is a COX-2 inhibitor, suggesting that it might be helpful for arthritis and pain.
Photo by Pixabay on Pexels.com
Decarboxylation can a stinky process. You may want to use a shallow pan covered with foil, or a decarb box – a silicon box that seals in the smell. (An oven thermometer is included for calibrating your oven.)
- Preheat oven. Wait until oven is fully preheated before proceeding.
- Break up flowers and buds into smaller pieces with your hands. There is no need to grind first.
- Place the material in a pan or the decarb box.
- Bake on the center rack
- When time is up, remove the material from oven. Let cool completely, or chill in freezer 10-15 minutes.
The Magical Butter people recommend the following temperatures:
Once you have decarbed you will notice that the material smells different. It is now activated and you can bake it into brownies, extract it into tincture, infuse it into butter or coconut oil. CBD and THC are absorbed slowly, so be sure not to make the rookie mistake of “trying just a little more” when you don’t feel something right away. You may have to wait as long as an hour or two for the effects to kick in. The effects may last longer too.
CBG hemp flower requires different temperatures. Read more here.
Before prohibition cannabis was available at drug stores in the form of a cannabis tincture. These tinctures contained alcohol infused with cannabis. Neither CBD nor THC are water soluble, so either alcohol or oil are needed as a solvent for the activeingredients in cannabis. Today the word tincture is sometimes used to refer to CBD oil as well as to alcohol-based tinctures. The principle is the same. Cannabis is first heated to “decarb” or decarboxylate the plant matter. This is the process that converts the inactive THCA to the intoxicant THC. It also converts CBDA to CBD. After this decarb process the plant material is soaked in grain alcohol and one of several techniques is used to speed up the process of infusing the chemicals from cannabis into the alcohol.
I’ll list three methods that can be used at home. These techniques can be used with CBD hemp flower or with marijuana bud. Before you start you should decarb most or all of the plant material (unless you want to include some THCA and/or CBDA in the tincture). Decarboxilation is a process of heating cannabis to convert THCA to THC and CBDA to CBD. If you are smoking or vaping you are decarbing the material as you smoke or vape.
The slow method:
- Mix your flower or extract in a mason jar with high-proof alcohol (such as Everclear)
- Close the jar and let it sit for a few weeks, shaking it once a day
- After a few weeks, filter it with a coffee filter
The shake method:
- Grind your herb finely, either before or after decarb. Mix in a mason jar with high-proof alcohol (such as Everclear)
- Shake for 3 minutes
- Strain the mixture and store
The high tech method:
- Use your Magical Butter machine or an Infuzium 420. These machines make infused oils and butter, but they simplify the process for tinctures as well. I chose the Infuzium 420 because it has good reviews, it’s cheaper, and it allows me to make smaller batches if I wish.
- Just dump in the alcohol and the herb (grinding not necessary) and push the button for tinctures. The machine heats the mixture safely and stirs it for you. Strain the end product with the strainer included with the machine. Straining again through a coffee filter removes even more of the fine solids.
If you are using hemp flower to make a CBD tincture you should consider including some raw (not decarbed) plant material in addition to the decarbed material. CBDA is a COX2 inhibitor and may inhibit some tumor growth. Similarly, THCA is being studied for a number of health benefits, including treating some seizures.
Whichever method you choose you will end up with a tincture that may burn if you put it under your tongue. If it does, then take it with a sip of water and swish it around in your mouth for a minute or so before swallowing. Adding a drop of peppermint extract and a splash of stevia will make it easier to tolerate too. Putting it in the freezer for 24 hours and then straining it through a coffee filter will remove some of the bitterness too.
You can roughly calculate the dose if you have good lab results on your cannabis. You will likely capture 75% or so of the CBD or THC, so include this in your calculations.
References: Leafly guide to tinctures.
How much CBD or hemp oil should you take? Nobody really knows. There are standard doses for people using the prescription form of CBD called Epidiolex to treat seizures, and these doses are very high. Most people taking CBD for anxiety and chronic pain take much lower doses. The video below by the “CBD Professor” is pretty good at laying this out. At least he doesn’t pretend to know what dose you should take.
He refers to an article by Christine Ruggeri, CHHC on the Dr. Axe site that is worth reading too. It does suggest a range of doses, but emphasized that dosing really is an individual process.
In nature CBD does not exist in isolation. It is found in cannabis, in both hemp and marijuana. There is evidence that it works better when accompanied by other constituents of cannabis, such as THC, other cannabinoids, and terpenes.
Start by buying CBD from a reputable source that provides certificates of analysis (COAs). Read the dosing suggestions on the label and follow the principle of “start low and go slow.” Many experts suggest starting at the lowest dose suggested on the label and very gradually increasing if you don’t get the desired effect in a couple of weeks. Consider trying an even lower dose after a while. There are anecdotal reports of “reverse tolerance” where people can sometimes decrease the dose after they have been taking it for a while. Compare CBD isolate products with full spectrum and broad spectrum products. When you find something that works, stick with it.