In order for the marijuana to be efficient, the THCA in the plant needs to be converted into its active form (THC) through a process called decarboxylation. The THCA is usually decarboxylated through heating and drying the plant. This will occur instantly with smoking and over time with normal stove or oven temperatures when cooking. But, if cannabis is left unheated, the less active acid form will persist. This is particularly true for recently harvested, fresh marijuana. Over the course of a few months, the marijuana will gradually decarboxylate when kept dry and at room temperature.
If you’re planning to prepare marijuana for ingestion without cooking it in the stove or oven, you’ll probably want to preheat the plant beforehand to activate the THC. Lab studies have shown that THCA can be 100% decarboxylated by heating it to 390*F (200*C) for five short minutes. However, this extends beyond the standard vaporization temperature of THC (350*F pr 180*C), and the sample should be protected from evaporation through absorbing it in oil or sealing it in foil (or another airtight container). In practice, lower temperatures are preferable in order to avoid vaporization and to preserve the marijuana’s flavor (which can become burnt and unsavory when overheated). To do this effectively, it’s better to heat the sample at 212*F (100*C) for at least 90 minutes. You can do that with a dry oven or by sealing the sample in an airtight (and heat-resistant) container and placing it in boiling water. The Maximizer, a decarboxylation device, had once been commercially available, but was eliminated from vendors by anti-paraphernalia laws in the early 1980s.
Reducing the ”Weedy” Flavor of Marijuana
Some recipes simply don’t go well with marijuana’s strong flavor—a consequence of its water-soluble compounds. Even so, these can be extracted to leave the leaf with a much less intense flavor.
Use the entire leaf and place the marijuana in a bowl, making sure not to pack it in too tightly. Add lukewarm water and allow the marijuana to soak for about 30 minutes. Chlorophyll and other pigments will dissolve and the water will start to change colors. Drain all the water and then you’ll have marijuana that’s ready to be used as is, or it can be dried and powdered.
After you’ve poured off of the water and removed the marijuana, you’ll likely notice tan-colored residue at the bottom of the bowl. This potent substance is comprised by glands that have fallen off the leaf and can be dried for use. This is similar to the “water screening” process we went over earlier.
Dry Preparation (Leaf or Bud Flour)
This is the most prevalent method for most of the recipes found in this chapter. Unless otherwise states, the recipe will use marijuana “flour” that’s been dried and ground as follows. You can utilize this process with many different forms of marijuana including buds, trim, and leaf. Whether or not the marijuana went through the water process described above, it still needs to be very dry.
Marijuana is ground with the use of a blender. First the marijuana is dried until it is crisp and brittle and crumbles in your fingers. You can do this with a microwave oven or a food dehydrator. Ovens that have a 100-degree (38*C) setting can also do the trick. When dry, place the marijuana in a blender on the highest speed. If you’re only processing a small amount, a coffee grinder might actually be more convenient. Grind the marijuana until it’s powdery, but don’t open the top right away because the dust is full of THC-glands that must settle first. This takes around five minutes.
After it’s been ground, the marijuana is sifted through a strainer to remove unstopped leaf veins. This should be completed in a room with little or no air circulation with a high-walled bowl (not a plate) so that the extremely light THC glands don’t drift off into the atmosphere. After it’s been ground and sifted, the marijuana is primed for cooking.
Alcohol, Glycerin, or Oil Extract Preparation
The most popular way to cook with marijuana is by dissolving the THC in drinkable alcohol, butter, or oil. You can do this after soaking the marijuana in water. The color of the alcohol, butter, or oil will not become quite as deep and the flavor won’t get quite as intense.
Alcohol mixes are really easy to make. Simply add the grass to any 80-proof or stronger alcohol. The idea is that strong alcohol will dissolve more THC. Although no scientific studies have been conducted to prove this, we suspect that 80-proof (40%) alcohol is plenty strong to dissolve all of the THC. Most of the THC will dissolve within a couple of hours and, after about two days, the process is complete. Mixing and/or shaking the alcohol moves this process along even quicker.
NEVER USE RUBBING ALCOHOL OR DENATURED ALCOHOL. They are poisonous when taken internally and can definitely hurt you in a number of ways. Stick with stuff you find in the liquor store. The authors of this publication also recommend 101-proof peppermint Schnapps. This high-proof alcohol will readily dissolve the cannabinoids in the oil on the buds. Soaking an ounce of high-quality bud in a pint of 101-proof peppermint Schnapps will provide you with an intensely strong elixir. You can dilute the taste of alcohol by placing a small amount in a nice herbal tea. The peppermint flavor of the Schnapps almost completely covers up any unpleasant flavors of the plant.
As is common, the resulting tonic will be more powerful if the weed has been preheated enough for the THCA to undergo decarboxylation. This can add a slightly burned taste to the marijuana prompting some people to choose fresh, green, non-decarboxylated buds. They also might just prefer the milder, less psychoactive effect of the marijuana with a higher concentration of THCA than THC. It’s well within reason to think that some people derive unique medical benefits from THCA.
Ensure that you measure the amount of marijuana added to the mixture so that the dose per unit of alcohol can be calculated. For example, a fifth of alcohol is equivalent to 26 ounces. An ounce of marijuana is equivalent to 28 grams. Slightly less than one ounce of marijuana soaked in one fifth of alcohol would yield 26 one-gram-per-ounce servings. Doubling the quantity of marijuana would make a one-gram dose containable by a one-half ounce of liquor.
Entire leaves can be added to the alcohol and are as effective as ground marijuana despite the difficulty in stuffing their bulky frames into a narrow-necked bottle. Of course, you can always pour the alcohol into a wide-necked jar for processing. This allows for more leaf to be processes as well. After processing is completed, the leaf can be removed from the alcohol quite easily. Make sure to press the alcohol from the leaf before you get rid of it. (Note: if the leaf is placed in a narrow-necked bottle, it does not have to be removed and can simply be tossed out with the empty bottle).
Some people would rather add ground marijuana to the alcohol. It’s easier to handle, less messy, and far less bulky so that a larger concentration is feasible. Removing the remains requires that you pour the mixture out through a coffee filter. You can also add the whole leaves to alcohol and run them through a blender before filtering.