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 30–40 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!