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Conscious Cannabis

Activating Cannabinoids: How Heat Makes Cannabis Psychoactive

04 March 2019 – Posted in General Knowledge by CGRI

Written by: Christopher Pauli

Fresh may not be best when it comes to Cannabis. The two major compounds you can juice from the harvested Cannabis plant – tetrahydrocannabinolic acid (THCA) and cannabidiolic acid (CBDA) – are both non-psychoactive compounds.

While it doesn’t exactly roll off your tongue, decarboxylation is an essential process for utilizing Cannabis. When you smoke or vaporize these resins, the heat used during this process can activate or decarboxylate the cannabinoids transforming them into tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) and the non-psychoactive cannabidiol (CBD).

That’s why you feel the effect of the THC and other synergistic and psychoactive cannabinoids when applying heat to the dried plant material or concentrates like wax and shatter.

In the case of edibles, a process similar to burning the plant must take place before the cannabinoids are absorbable from a brownie or cookie. This process is commonly referred to as decarboxylation and can be done in numerous ways. One group studied the most efficient temperature and time to activate the cannabinoids CBGA, CBDA, and THCA. For THCA, they found that 110 degrees C for 30 minutes most efficiently converted the majority of the THCA molecules into THC, without degrading them to cannabinol (CBN).

If Cannabis is “cooked” in an oven or in an oil or butter for too long or at too high a temperature, it can break down the active ingredient from THCA to CBN (in the presence of oxygen). Though similar to THC in structure, the effects of CBN can be quite different. Generally, CBN is considered less psychotropic than THC but still a useful compound. In mice, one group found that CBN increased “sleeping time” slightly, which supports the current use in legal medical and recreational Cannabis markets.

In Colorado, some products have been developed with CBN, including pills and transdermal patches that are anecdotally marketed as sleep products. CBN has also been investigated for its potential as an anti-bacterial, appetite stimulant, anti-convulsant, anti-inflammatory, analgesic, bone growth stimulant, and reliever of intraocular pressure.

As cannabinoid research advances we are beginning to understand the ways that Cannabis works in the human body that allows patients, caregivers, and doctors better able to integrate Cannabis into their healthcare regimen.

This post provides only a broad overview on the subject of cannabinoids and is not intended as medical advice or to replace the advice of a licensed physician.

Fresh may not best when it comes to Cannabis. The two major compounds you can juice from the harvested Cannabis plant – tetrahydrocannabinolic acid ]]>