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.
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.
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).
I 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?
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 CBDlabresult.net 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.