Weed Decarboxylation: An Important Step in Processing Cannabis for Consumption

Dried cannabis flowers on a scale

One of the most important parts of processing the cannabis plant for consumption as an edible is the weed decarboxylation procedure. During decarb, the psychoactive compounds in cannabis and hemp plants are activated to mimic the same process that occurs during smoking. Whether it’s a consumable, tincture, or topical, cannabis decarboxylation must occur relatively early in production. 

If you’re wondering what happens during the process and why it’s so important, read on here to learn from the experts!

What Exactly is Weed Decarboxylation?

When we refer to decarboxylation or decarbing, what we’re actually talking about is heating cannabis and hemp plants to activate the cannabinoids throughout the buds, leaves, and trim. The most important part of the plant to decarb is the flower because that’s where we find the most trichomes, where the cannabinoid acids are stored.

Through cannabis decarboxylation, the cannabinoid acid’s molecular structure loses one of its carboxyl groups while retaining a single hydrogen atom. With this shift in molecular structure, the mass of the compound decreases by 12%, turning into active THC.

Why Do We Decarb?

Edible cookies stacked next to cannabis bud

When you don’t add heat during the consumption of cannabis, the psychoactive effects are not active. In order to ensure that cannabis has the effect you want, you must decarb to activate the THC and CBD before the product is ready for use. Weed decarboxylation also allows the cannabinoids to pass through the blood-brain barrier and activate the appropriate receptors in your body, like CB1. This process isn’t necessary for smokeables, but it’s especially critical if you plan on cooking or baking with cannabis.

Without decarb, your edibles and topicals won’t be able to affect pain, inflammation, anxiety, appetite, mood, or sleep.

The Basics of the Weed Decarboxylation Process

During processing, a manufacturer will apply heat to the cannabis plant at varying rates due to the type of cannabinoid or terpene that’s present. Decarboxylation occurs at different rates and temperatures for each compound. Here is a breakdown of some of the most common weed decarboxylation temperature recommendations:

For Terpenes

  • Limonene: 150ºF
  • Alpha-Pinene: 312ºF
  • Myrcene: 330ºF

For Cannabinoids

  • CBN: 365ºF
  • THC: 314ºF
  • CBD: 428ºF

Choosing the right temperature and timeline is critical because over-baking your cannabis will destroy the active ingredients and make it taste really bad.

Finding Quality Products

It can be tough finding quality cannabis products that are properly decarboxylated. Many manufacturers will share a little about their processing methods through their websites. If you’re worried about the effectiveness of a certain product, and you’re sure it’s not a tolerance issue, you may want to check up on their decarb methods online.

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