Whether you’re baking marijuana brownies or cooking a cannabis-infused meal, you won’t get the traditional effects unless you decarboxylate your plant material first.
The scientific word “decarboxylation” may make the process seem long and complicated, but it’s actually the easiest and first step in making edibles. Let’s take a look at why decarbing is necessary.
What is Decarboxylation?
Decarboxylation or decarbing is a heating process used to activate cannabis. Decarbing is necessary because raw cannabis can’t get you high unless it is sufficiently heated up.
The reason it can’t get you high is because the cannabinoids are in an inactive form.
Instead of THC and CBD, raw marijuana flowers contain THCA and CBDA. The “A” stands for acid and it means that a carboxylic acid is attached to the compound. This carboxy group must be removed in order to convert these compounds into their active forms.
THCA has some benefits, such as anti-inflammatory effects, but it does not have psychoactive effects and it can’t get you high. So if you’re trying to make edibles that will get you high, you’ll need to decarboxylate your marijuana first.
How Does It Work?
In simple terms, decarboxylation is heating marijuana up in order to convert THCA to THC. This process happens when smoking or vaporizing marijuana because these methods expose the marijuana to heat.
But doesn’t cooking heat up marijuana, too? It turns out marijuana needs to reach a temperature above 220°F in order to decarboxylate, and the inside of any food you’re cooking won’t get that hot.
So unless you’re burning your brownies to a crisp, throwing raw marijuana into the batter just won’t cut it. The edges of the batter may decarb properly, but the center of the food won’t get hot enough to decarboxylate the marijuana. This is why a separate step is necessary.
How To Decarboxylate: Step by Step
The quickest and easiest way to decarb cannabis is to spread out the pieces on a baking sheet and place it in the oven.
The decarbing process usually takes about 20-30 minutes when baked at 250°F.
1 oz. ground cannabis (bud, flower or trim)
Parchment paper (optional)
Step 1: Grind cannabis thoroughly.
Step 2: Preheat oven to 250°F.
Step 3: Line baking sheet with parchment paper (optional).
Step 4: Spread out cannabis in a thin, even layer on baking sheet.
Step 5: Place baking sheet in oven for 20-30 minutes.
Step 6: Remove from oven and let cool.
- You can use more or less than an ounce of cannabis when decarbing, as long as it fits on your baking sheet without spilling or piling up.
- If your cannabis contains more CBD than THC, bake at 275°F for 45 minutes instead.
- When properly decarbed, cannabis should be light to medium brown in color.
- If you don’t have a baking sheet handy, you can wrap the cannabis in aluminum foil and place it in the oven directly.
- Make sure your cannabis is ground into small pieces and spread out evenly or else some pieces may decarb more than others.
- You can tell when the cannabis is almost finished decarbing once your oven starts to emit a scent.
- If you live in an apartment, you can turn on the exhaust fan and put a towel underneath the door to minimize the smell.