How to make your own Green Dragon Cannabis Tincture

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 activecannabis-tincture2ingredients 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.

Is it Safe to Travel with CBD?

Two grandmothers were arrested recently for carrying CBD oil in their luggage.  Drug possession charges were dropped in both cases, but only after the women were charged and taken to jail.  The 2018 Farm Bill was supposed to make hemp-derived products legal throughout the United States, but some states and localities are still treating CBD as a
controlled substance.  What should you do if you are traveling?  Here are some things to try:

Airport traveler

Photo by bruce mars on

  • Take pills instead of CBD oil if you are flying.  Many CBD “liqui-gels” look just like vitamin E supplements.  Divide doses of medications and supplements into small bags or those AM/PM containers. It is unlikely that anyone will test everything in your luggage.  If you don’t take vitamins consider taking some just for the trip so that the CBD doesn’t stand out.
  • Consider gummies.  These also blend in nicely with vitamin gummies or they can be tucked into a small plastic bag in your luggage.   Since they are not liquid they don’t attract attention like a bottle of oil. Suck on the gummy before chewing it in order to get some sublingual absorption.
  • Look for small containers labeled “hemp oil” if you have some confidence that they contain CBD,   CBDistillery oils, for example, are labeled “Hemp Supplement” and “full spectrum hemp extract” even though “CBD” is in the brand. Avoid traveling with homemade oils and handwritten labels.
  • Consider taking a break from CBD.  Sometimes this is a good way to discover whether it is really helping as much as you think.  There are no withdrawal symptoms. CBD is not addictive.

Do you have tips to share?  Do you disagree with me?  Please comment below to share your ideas.

Dosing CBD

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.

CBD OilsStart 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.

How to make CBD Oil for Morning and Evening

(This is a continuation of previous posts on How to make CBD Oil and How to make Broad Spectrum CBD Oil.)

If you are making your own CBD oil you can tailor your blends of terpenes to include terpenes that are activating for morning use and terpenes that are sedating for evening use.  I’m not suggesting adding anything that does not naturally occur in cannabis. Some people sell CBD for evening use that is blended with melatonin.  I think that’s stupid. Melatonin is cheap (in the U.S.) and there’s no need to start adding it to CBD.  It’s also not a good idea to take melatonin except right before bedtime.  Taken at the wrong time of day it can actually give you jet lag.shutterstock_547722112

Adding naturally relaxing/sedating terpenes such as myrcene and nerolidol is different. It is a way to mimic some of the chemical makeup of a sedating cannabis strain in a THC-free CBD oil.  In my most recent batch of CBD oil I made three slightly different blends.  I used the basic technique in How to make Broad Spectrum CBD Oil, including blending in some Kanabia Golden Harvest oil in order to get an entourage effect from added CBD-V, CBG, and THC-V.  (This is the only oil with such high levels of these cannabinoids and code cannap15 still gets you 15% off.)  I made the oil stronger by using more CBD isolate than in my last batch; and less MCT oil.  The contents of the final result is below.  The bold ingredients are the ones that distinguish activating from sedating:

AM-Activating: 29mg CBD/ml.
Hemp-derived terpene blend, harlequin terpene blend, Durban Poison terpene blend
D-limonene, b-carophyllene, linalool
CBD-V, CBG, THC-V (from Kanabia oil)

Neutral: 29mg CBD/ml.
Hemp-derived terpene blend, harlequin terpene blend
D-limonene, b-carophyllene, linalool
CBD-V, CBG, THC-V (from Kanabia oil)

PM-Sedating 29mg CBD/ml.
Hemp-derived terpene blend, harlequin terpene blend, myrcene, nerolidol
D-limonene, b-carophyllene, linalool
CBD-V, CBG, THC-V (from Kanabia oil)

As you can see the only differences are the addition of Durban Poison terpenes in the morning and the addition of the sedating terpenes myrcene and nerolidol in the evening. The result is three slightly different CBD oils. I definitely notice the extra sedation in the evening.  I sometimes get “couch-lock” where I end up dozing in my recliner rather than asleep in the bed.

I’m not sure yet about the activating blend.  It doesn’t make me sleepy, but I’m generally drinking a cup of coffee in the morning too. Leafly describes Durban Poison as:

This pure sativa originates from the South African port city of Durban. It has gained popularity worldwide for its sweet smell and energetic, uplifting effects. Durban Poison is the perfect strain to help you stay productive through a busy day, when exploring the outdoors, or to lend a spark of creativity.

Another option for an activating blend would be to add individual terpenes that are thought to be activating. You can buy combinations of food-grade terpenes that are sold as either sedating of activating as well.

Have you made different blends of CBD oil?  What is your formula?  Please comment below.

The Amazon CBD Hemp Oil Paradox

You can buy CBD on Amazon.  You just can’t sell CBD on Amazon. When you search for CBD on Amazon you get results. None of the results list CBD in their ingredients. You will usually see “hemp extract” or “full spectrum hemp extract.” Sometimes you see “hemp oil.” Stay far away from “hemp seed oil.” Hemp seeds contain almost no cannabinoids. (The exception is that hemp seed oil is sometimes used as a carrier oil, possibly along with the more common MCT oil).

Inside The UPS Worldport Facility Ahead Of Earnings FiguresI know of a few legitimate brands selling CBD-rich full spectrum hemp oil on Amazon.  I will not reveal the names because I don’t want to contribute in any small way to their getting banned.  There are also other brands that have been tested by a third-party and found to contain no CBD.  What’s a buyer to do?

Amazon’s seller policy states:

  • Drug listings must not be for controlled substances or products containing controlled substances, such as:
    • Products containing cannabidiol (CBD), a Schedule I Controlled Substance, including but not limited to:
    • Rich Hemp Oil containing cannabidiol (CBD)
  • Products that have been identified as containing CBD by LegitScript
  • Hemp products containing Resin or tetrahydrocannabinol (THC)
  • Hemp (or any cannabis Sativa spp. strain) seeds capable of germination
  • Anything listed in Schedules I, II, III, IV or V of the Controlled Substances Act

As CBD moves off Schedule I it may be accepted by Amazon.  For now products containing CBD must be listed as “hemp oil,” which is an accurate description of what is contained in these oils/tinctures.

One company that I have bought from before recently began offering a few of their products on Amazon. In their email announcing this they said:

“they made us retouch the word CBD off and replace with “Hemp Oil”, but you will receive your normal CBD with 300, 900, 1800mg of actual CBD content.”

Does it really contain CBD?

One site claims to have tested some brands from Amazon and found no CBD in 6 out of 7 hemp oil products tested  The site appears to show thumbnails of COAs (certificates of analysis) from an independent lab.  Unfortunately the COA pictures are heavily cropped.  Interestingly, the only other article on their site is a positive review of a CBD oil that you can buy (from them?).  I’d trust the site more if it had more content.  The domain was registered 12/29/2018 and the post about Amazon CBD testing was dated the following day. They waited a month to write a positive review of the other site that sells CBD.

Since there are lots of places to buy CBD it is probably better to avoid Amazon unless you have other independent details about the brand. If you are not sure contact the company and ask them what is in the product they sell on Amazon.  You won’t find COAs on Amazon since they don’t allow CBD to be sold there.  Look for vetted sites that include independent certificates of analysis.  Look online for sales and coupon codes. When you find a good brand, stick with them.



New Study on CBD, Anxiety, and Pain implicates Serotonin and other Mechanisms as well as the Endocannabinoid System

A 2019 study has found that CBD’s effect may not be restricted to it’s effect on the endocannabinoid system. CBD also acts on receptors that bind the neurotransmitter serotonin (5-HT1A) that is involved in anxiety and on receptors that bind vanilloid (TRPV1) that is involved in pain.  The researchers found dose ranges that prevented anxiety-like behaviors and pain behaviors in rats.  The study is complex, but they reported that a range of  5-10 mg/kg had some effect on pain and anxiety.  This is described as a low dose, but it amounts to 340-680mg for a 150 lb human,  much higher than the dose that most people take of hemp-based CBD.  You would need to drink a bottle of CBD oil every 1-3 days to get the effect that they found in this study. Smoking or vaping 1-2 grams of high CBD hemp flower per day would also approach this range.

shutterstock_732789853It had previously been proposed that CBD’s effect on anxiety, pain, and depression are because it affects the endocannabinoid system.  CBD partially binds to the CB1 receptor in a manner that slightly interferes with THC’s ability to bind with the receptor.  It also acts on anandamide – an endocannabinoid produced by the body.  CBD keeps the anandamide from being destroyed – keeping it around longer.

Dr. Gabriella Gobbi’s team at McGill University believe that CBD may become an evidence-based application of cannabis in medicine, offering a safe alternative to THC and opioids for chronic pain, such as back pain, sciatica, diabetic, cancer and post-trauma pain.

What does this mean in practical terms?  It may mean that people taking CBD isolate for pain and anxiety should consider a higher dose if what they are taking doesn’t work. Previous studies have found that CBD is effective at a broader range of doses if it is taken along with other cannabinoids, so full spectrum hemp oil may work at lower doses.


Drug Testing and CBD

Some people medicating with CBD are subject to workplace drug testing.  The intent of such testing is to assure that people don’t work while under the influence of intoxicating drugs.  This works well for drugs that are water soluble.  Drugs like cocaine and heroin wash out of your system within 2-4 days.  LabCorp reports that THC is detectable for 2-7 days after a single use and 1-2 months after chronic use. 1.  This puts people who use medical cannabis (hemp or marijuana) at a disadvantage.


A negative initial test for THC. Note the faint pink band.

Urine drug testing is usually a two step process. The first step is an inexpensive immunoassay test. Immunoassays measure the formation of antibody-antigen complexes.  They can produce false positives.  If you test positive for THC you will usually then be given a more-expensive gas chromatography test that can tell more precisely what is in your urine.

People taking CBD isolate should not test positive on any urine drug screen.  If your job has a strict policy and tests frequently then you should probably only take CBD isolate. Multiple studies have found that CBD isolate works, but that the dose needs to be very precise.  CBD that is accompanied by other substances naturally found in cannabis works over a much wider dose range.

The image to the right shows the results of a $1.00 home urine drug test (Easy@home brand from Amazon) that uses the same technology as the initial tests used in many workplaces.  If no bar at all shows up next to the “T” then it is considered a positive test.  Any bar at all is supposed to represent a negative test. The example shown is the result when I was using CBD isolate supplemented by a small amount of CBD hemp flower twice a week. It’s technically negative, but the lower band is awfully weak. That’s probably because hemp flower contains THC-A that converts to THC when smoked or vaped. This is in addition to the small amount of THC that is usually in flower.If it is essential that you pass urine drug tests then you should probably avoid hemp flower.


It’s comforting to know that I currently test “negative” for THC, but I’m not confident that every lab technician would read this as a negative result (even though they should). To the left is an example of the instructions for a different brand of test that uses the same technology.

Should you test at home?  You shouldn’t need to if your job doesn’t test, or if you only use CBD isolate products.  If your job tests, and you use full spectrum hemp products, (even hemp oil from places like Amazon that don’t explicitly list CBD as an ingredient) you should consider testing yourself from time-to-time.


How to Make Broad Spectrum CBD Oil (not as cheap)

In my last post I shared an easy way to make CBD isolate oil. This is CBD oil with no ingredients except CBD and oil.  There is evidence that CBD may work better when other natural compounds (cannabinoids and terpenes) are also present (the “entourage effect“). Full-spectrum hemp oil contains mostly CBD but also smaller amounts of these cannabinoids and terpenes.  The amount of delta 9 THC is required by law to be very low (less than 0.3% in the U.S. and less than 0.2% in the E.U.).  Cannabinoids are fat-soluable, however, so they tend to build up in the body over time. It can take up to a month to flush THC from the bloodstream.  Some people taking higher doses of full-spectrum hemp oil have reported failing workplace drug tests.

Broad-spectrum hemp oil is CBD isolate with terpenes and/or other cannabinoids added back in.  There’s no THC so you are very unlikely to fail a drug test. Here’s how to make your own.

Basic Instructions – for making Broad Spectrum CBD Oil

Follow the directions from the post “Make your own CBD Oil (cheap)” but buy an extra

Terpenes and cannabinoids to add to CBD oil

Some of the ingredients you might add to CBD oil

60ml (2 oz) empty bottle (for a total of 4 instead of 3).  You will still be making 6 ounces (180ml) of CBD isolate oil in this first step.

In addition to this you will need:

  • A small bottle of food-grade terpenes from a high CBD cannabis strain.  I’ve found both ACDC and harlequin terpenes on Amazon. These come in tiny bottles and you only need a few drops for each 2oz bottle.
  • A bottle of a broad spectrum CBD oil such as “Kanabia” Golden Harvest (use code cannap15 for 15% off).  This oil has relatively high levels of CBD-V, CBG, and THC-V along with CBD.  You will be diluting this so that the total of these three cannabinoids are not as strong in your final oil.
  • A bottle of beta-caryophyllene (optional).  This terpene is also a cannabinoid that binds to the CB2 receptor. It smells and tastes like purple gum drops.
CBD, CBD-v, CBF, and THC-V

Kanabia CBD+ Oil

Add the contents of the bottle of Kanabia oil to the CBD isolate oil that you made in the mason jar. (If you already divided the oil among different small bottles you can either divide the Kanabia oil evenly among the small bottles or re-combine the contents into a mason jar.)

Add 16-20 drops of terpenes to the mason jar. (Add more later if you choose.  Read the instructions.)

Add 20 or more drops of beta-caryophyllene to the mason jar (optional).

Stir or shake well and then divide evenly into the 4 empty bottles using the small funnel.  (The small bottles won’t be quite full because the Kanabia oil bottle was only 50ml.) Approximate dosing remains the same, except you now have a broad spectrum oil that includes CBD along with smaller quantities of CBD-V, CBG, and THC-V, terpenes, and possibly extra amounts of the super-terpene beta-caryophyllene.

[Edit – April 24, 2019: Part 3 of this series is live: How to make CBD Oil for Morning and Evening.]