What is Decarboxylation?

This chemical reaction is the reason why you experience feelings such as euphoria, relaxation, sleepiness and more

Every time you light a joint or a bowl, you’re decarboxylating your cannabis. So what does this mean? At the very basic level, decarboxylating is essentially activating the psychoactive compounds in cannabis.

In its raw form, trichomes present in cannabis flower are packed with THCA, also known as tetrahydrocannabinolic acid. THCA has its own anti-inflammatory benefits but is non-psychoactive. When cannabis is heated, that acid chain (the “A” in THCA) is “burned off,” and the compound is converted to THC, the psychoactive compound we are familiar with.  

How does this happen?

Before a flower ever gets to a dispensary, it has already started its decarboxylation in the drying and curing process. But additional help is required. Setting fire to cannabis flower is decarboxylation but just as there are many ways to consume cannabis, there are various methods to decarboxylate it. Have you ever tried to make edibles by putting raw cannabis in a brownie mix? Most likely, it didn’t turn out so well. Decarboxylation plays a major role in making edibles or tinctures at home. You could just throw ground flower into a heated solvent such as butter or oil to get the intoxicating effects, but you risk overheating and ruining the integrity of the ingredient. Here is what I recommend for decarboxylating at home:

1. Heat your oven to the lowest temperature, around 225 degrees Fahrenheit.

2. Line a cookie sheet with parchment paper. 

3. Give the flower a fine grind, and spread it on the parchment paper.

4. Set a timer for 3040 minutes, but don’t go anywhere. The oven temperature and hot spots can vary, so check often. You want the  cannabis to be slightly brown and dry.

5. Once the flower has cooled, give it a quick pulse in a food processor, and you are ready to go!

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Carolyn Kissick • Editor + Contributor

Carolyn is a hospitality and management professional based in San Francisco, California, currently serving as an analyst and consultant around legal cannabis for Big Rock, a family office focused on hospitality and wellness. Carolyn’s experience and passion for the spirits industry, most notably agave, lends a unique perspective to the dawn of the California medicinal and recreational cannabis culture. You can keep up to date with Carolyn by following her on twitter @runcarolnrun