Drugs

Decarboxylation: What It Is, & Why You Should Decarb Your Weed

Decarboxylation: What It Is, & Why You Should Decarb Your Weed

decarbing

Have you ever wondered why you need to heat cannabis to feel the psychoactive effects? In order to get high from cannabis, you need to decarboxylate it first. But, what is decarboxylation and why should you decarb your weed? We’ll walk you through everything you need to know about getting the most out of your herb. 

What is decarboxylation?

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Did you know that raw cannabis is non-psychoactive? The herb only becomes psychoactive when two things happen. First, when the bud dries and ages. Second, when the cannabis is heated. More psychoactive compounds are created by heating the plant than via ageing. In order to release the full potential of marijuana’s psychoactive effects, you must first go through a process called decarboxylation.

 

“Decarboxylation” is a long word for a simple process. To decarboxylate your herb, you just need to heat it. Applying a little heat to dried bud inspires some fascinating chemical reactions in the plant. Namely, you transform compounds called cannabinoid acids into a form that is readily usable by the body.

Cannabinoids are chemicals found in the cannabis plant that bind to cells in the body to produce effects. Sometimes decarboxylation is called “activating” or “decarbing”.

You probably have already heard that the primary psychoactive compound in cannabis is delta9-tetrahydrocannabinol (THC). THC is what gets you high when you smoke a little flower or eat an edible. But, you won’t find much THC on a live, growing marijuana plant, if any at all. What you find instead is another compound called THCA, which is short for tetrahydrocannabinolic acid.

THCA is not psychoactive. That’s right, this acid compound won’t get you high. In order to feel the mind-altering effects of cannabis, you need to transform THCA into psychoactive THC. So, you apply a little heat.

Each time you take a lighter to a joint or place your cannabis in the oven, you are acting the part of an amateur chemist. You are converting one compound into another. You’re turning an otherwise non-psychoactive plant into a psychoactive one. To get specific, you are removing a “carboxyl group” from the acid form of THC. Hence the term “De-carboxylation“. Without that carboxyl group, THC is able to freely bind to cell receptors in your brain and body.

Are there benefits to raw cannabis?

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If you want a high, you need to decarb first. However, there are some benefits to leaving your cannabis raw. Keep in mind that “raw” does not mean dried and cured. When you dry and cure your cannabis, a little decarboxylation happens as the herb ages.

Raw, uncured cannabis has a variety of health benefits. Cannabinoid acids are potent anti-inflammatories. The herb is also packed full of vitamins and nutrients found in other healthy greens.

To use the herb raw, you’ll need to use freshly picked buds or fan leaves. You can also store raw cannabis in the refrigerator for a day or two like you would any other leafy green herb. Though, be mindful of mould and wilting. Densely packed cannabis flowers can become mouldy quite quickly when they’re exposed to moisture. You really want to use them as quickly as possible. They also begin to lose potency and denature the longer they sit.

Many medical cannabis patients have success by simply drinking raw cannabis juices or smoothies. You can find more information on raw, dietary cannabis here.

If you’re hoping for some psychoactive edibles, however, it’s best to decarboxylate your cannabis before you begin the cooking process.

Why do I decarb before cooking?

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If you’re cooking with cannabis, it is highly recommended you decarboxylate before you begin making your edible. If you ingest cannabis and want the full psychoactive effect, you need to first decarboxylate before cooking with the herb. Activating your cannabis prior to cooking ensures that THC’s psychoactive potential is not wasted.

If you don’t decarb before cooking, you risk losing potency and are not making the most out of your cannabis.

Do I need to decarb CBD strains?

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The short answer? Yes. CBD is short for cannabidiol, another common cannabinoid found in the cannabis plant. Unlike THC, CBD is non-psychoactive. Just like THC, CBD is found in its acid form in raw cannabis. This raw form (CBDA) has health-promoting properties on its own. But, activating CBD makes it more readily available for the body to use.

To use the proper term, activated CBD is more bioavailable. This means that the compound can be put to use by your body right away. When left in its raw form, your body has to do some extra work to break down the molecule and it may use the acid form in a slightly different way.

The same goes for other cannabinoids as well. Their raw form is the acid from. To make them more bioavailable, you need to decarboxylate. Bioavailability is why you need to decarb your weed.

Temperature and terpenes

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When it comes to decarboxylating, the lower the temperature you use, the longer the decarboxylation process is it’s going to take. However, this is not a bad thing! When using a lower temperature, you to lose fewer terpenes throughout the decarboxylation process.

Have you ever wondered why buds of even the same strain can have different tastes and smells? The answer is hidden in terpenes. Simply put, terpenes are the oils that give cannabis plants and flowers their unique smell such as berry, mint, citrus, and pine. There are many medicinal benefits to terpenes; some will successfully relieve your stress while others will promote focus and awareness.

Terpenes also work in tandem with THC and other cannabinoids to amplify the medical benefits of certain strains. For example, one common terpene is linalool. Linalool is the compound that gives lavender its unique scent. Strains like L.A. Confidential and Lavender tend to have high levels of linalool. Research suggests that this may amplify the sedative effects of THC.

The max temperature for terpene expression is 310 to 400°F (154 – 204.4°C). Anything above that will burn off the terpenes, altering flavor and lessening medical effects.

How to decarb before cooking

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Decarboxylation is a super simple process. Before you throw some cannabis into your pasta sauce or some “herbal seasoning” to your next pizza, make sure you follow these easy steps:

  1. Preheat the oven to 240° F. / 115° C.
  2. Break up cannabis flowers and buds into smaller pieces with your hands. We use one ounce, but you can elect to do more or less.
  3. Put the pieces in one layer on a rimmed baking sheet. Make sure the pan is the correct size so there is not empty space on the pan.
  4. Bake the cannabis for 30 to 40 minutes, stirring every 10 minutes so that it toasts evenly.
  5. When the cannabis is darker in color, a light to medium brown, and has dried out, remove the baking sheet and allow the cannabis to cool. It should be quite crumbly when handled.
  6. In a food processor, pulse the cannabis until it is coarsely ground (you don’t want a superfine powder). Store it in an airtight container and use as needed to make extractions

Watch the video

Fortunately, we’ve created this easy step-by-step video to walk you through the decarboxylation process. It really is not complicated, and taking a little time to properly activate your herb will produce amazing results. Watch the video below to see how it’s done:

 

 

Medicare Prescriptions Drop After Medical Marijuana Legalized

Big Pharma’s nightmare has come true as Americans are depending less on the pharmaceutical industry and more on medical marijuana as an alternative to prescription medication.

Marijuana is a natural plant that can’t be patented, unlike chemical-made synthetic tablets. Marijuana can be used to treat chronic pain, depression and anxiety. This may be why more are choosing to toke and smoke the herb and less are choosing to swallow pills.

Marijuana is not only a natural, safer alternative, but the prices for pharmaceutical drugs have sky rocketed. Now people are seeking an alternative to “modern medicine” in the form of cannabis.

Research shows states that legalized medical marijuana has caused a sharp decline in the purchasing of prescription meds. Using data on all prescriptions filed by Medicare D enrollees from 2010 to 2013, it was found that the use of prescription drugs was replaced with marijuana for health problems that marijuana could substitute for. For health problems where marijuana could not substitute, like blood-thinners, prescriptions didn’t drop.

“National overall reductions in Medicare program and enrollee spending which covers the cost of prescription medication.

When states implemented medical marijuana laws estimated to be $165.2 million per year in 2013.” – Researchers Ashley C. Bradford and W. David Bradford

The study’s finding’s add more arguments to the debate about whether to legalize marijuana or not for medical purposes. Already 25 states and the nation’s capital have legalized marijuana for medical purposes. That list includes Alaska, Arizona, California, Colorado, Connecticut, Delaware, Hawaii, Illinois, Maine, Maryland, Massachusetts, Michigan, Minnesota, Montana, Nevada, New Hampshire, New Jersey, New Mexico, New York, Ohio, Oregon, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, Vermont, Washington, and Washington, D.C.

Other States have legalized medical marijuana for limited use including – Alabama, Florida, Georgia, Iowa, Idaho, Kentucky, Louisiana, Mississippi, Missouri, North Carolina, Oklahoma, South Carolina, Tennessee, Texas, Utah, Virginia, Wisconsin, Wyoming.

Two states –  Florida and Missouri – are expected to vote for medical marijuana legalization in November.

On one hand legalization would save an estimated $470 million in Medicare part D spending if widely available. On the other hand, Big Pharma would lose customers, and as said by George Carlin, they want customers — not cures.

Various drugs have adverse side effects, and some even include suicidal thoughts and death. Not one known death can be attributed to marijuana, and opioid dependency is being decreased by Marijuana.

But could there be benefits to using marijuana? It’s already been revealed that the age old myth that marijuana kills brain cells is indeed false.

The myth was due to experiments where scientist took chimpanzees, strapped them with a gas mask and pumped them full of smoke. The study forgot to take into account that they didn’t allow the chimpanzees to breathe. Which holding your breathe for too long can kill brain cells on it’s own, by not breathing and taking in no oxygen and just smoke this would definitely kill brain cells — but marijuana isn’t to blame.

In fact, according to researchers Marijuana might do the opposite and grow brain cells. Marijuana compounds may also protect the brain from developing the Alzheimer’s disease according to researchers at the Salk Institute in San Diego. THC and other chemical compounds found in Marijuana remove amyloid beta proteins from the brain — which are toxins found in Alzheimer’s patients. The THC compounds also reduced cellular inflammation. What other health benefits lie ahead for cannabis users? Only time and more medical research will tell. But to reap its benefits we need to legalize marijuana as it’s still considered a schedule 1 drug by the federal government.

Psychedelic Honey Exists, But Only This Bee Produces It

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Psychedelic Honey Exists, But Only This Bee Produces It…

Deep in the caves of the Himalaya Mountains, a special species of bee exists which produces hallucinogenic honey.

When people seek solitude, simplicity and ‘enlightenment’ they often venture to a cave – metaphorically or literally – to shun the influence of the world and go within.

The mountains in Nepal are a popular destination to those who desire to glean wisdom from humble silence. In the same area, however, there is another teacher who, locals say, can be quite powerful…

Credit: traveladdicts.com

Deep in the caves of the Himalaya Mountains, a bee that produces what locals call “mad honey” exists, reports Curious Meerkat. Mad, or red honey, is produced by Apis dorsata laboriosa, or the Himalayan Cliff Bee. The bee is the largest in the world and makes an incredibly unusual honey which is said to have hallucinogenic effects.

Because the Apis dorsata make honey out of Rhododendron flowers, a beautiful – but toxic – flowerwhich which is poisonous to humans and contains grayanotoxins, the honey made from the nectar isquite a trip.

Credit: Raphael Treza

In small quantities, it relaxing and is purported to have numerous health benefits. It is described as rather pleasant, if not intoxicating. In larger doses, true mad honey, Rhododendron poisoning (or honey intoxication) can take place. This causes vomiting, muscle weakness and heart irregularities.

Though it is harmful in high doses, locals will go to remarkable lengths to get their hands on the rare honey. The brief documentary above goes into more depth to describe the honey and the intriguing reasons it is sought after.

14 Years After Decriminalizing All Drugs, Here’s What Portugal Looks Like

In 2001, the Portuguese government did something that the United States would find entirely alien. After many years of waging a fierce war on drugs, it decided to flip its strategy entirely: It decriminalized them all.

If someone is found in the possession of less than a 10-day supply of anything from marijuana to heroin, he or she is sent to a three-person Commission for the Dissuasion of Drug Addiction, typically made up of a lawyer, a doctor and a social worker. The commission recommends treatment or a minor fine; otherwise, the person is sent off without any penalty. A vast majority of the time, there is no penalty.

Fourteen years after decriminalization, Portugal has not been run into the ground by a nation of drug addicts. In fact, by many measures, it’s doing far better than it was before.

The background: In 1974, the dictatorship that had isolated Portugal from the rest of the world for nearly half a century came to an end. The Carnation Revolution was a bloodless military-led coup that sparked a tumultuous transition from authoritarianism to democracy and a society-wide struggle to define a new Portuguese nation.

The newfound freedom led to a raucous attitude of experimentalism toward politics and economy and, as it turned out, hard drugs.

FILE – In this April 25 1974 file picture, people cheer soldiers in a tank driving through downtown Lisbon during a military coup.
Source: Associated Press

Portugal’s dictatorship had insulated it from the drug culture that had swept much of the Western world earlier in the 20th century, but the coup changed everything. After the revolution, Portugal gave up its colonies, and colonists and soldiers returned to the country with a variety of drugs. Borders opened up and travel and exchange were made far easier. Located on the westernmost tip of the continent, the country was a natural gateway for trafficking across the continent. Drug use became part of the culture of liberation, and the use of hard narcotics became popular. Eventually, it got out of hand, and drug use became a crisis.

At first, the government responded to it as the United States is all too familiar with: a conservative cultural backlash that vilified drug use and a harsh, punitive set of policies led by the criminal justice system. Throughout the 1980s, Portugal tried this approach, but to no avail: By 1999, nearly 1% of the population was addicted to heroin, and drug-related AIDS deaths in the country were the highest in the European Union, according to the New Yorker.

But by 2001, the country decided to decriminalize possession and use of drugs, and the results have been remarkable.

What’s gotten better? In terms of usage rate and health, the data show that Portugal has by no means plunged into a drug crisis.

As this chart from Transform Drug Policy Foundation shows, the proportion of the population that reports having used drugs at some point saw an initial increase after decriminalization, but then a decline:

Source: Transform Drug Policy Foundation

(Lifetime prevalence means the percentage of people who report having used a drug at some point in their life, past-year prevalence indicates having used within the last year, and past-month prevalence means those who’ve used within the last month. Generally speaking, the shorter the time frame, the more reliable the measure.)

Drug use has declined overall among the 15- to 24-year-old population, those most at risk of initiating drug use, according to Transform.

There has also been a decline in the percentage of the population who have ever used a drug and then continue to do so:

Source: Transform

Drug-induced deaths have decreased steeply, as this Transform chart shows:

Source: Transform

HIV infection rates among injecting drug users have been reduced at a steady pace, and has become a more manageable problem in the context of other countries with high rates, as can be seen in this chart from a 2014report by the European Monitoring Center for Drugs and Drug Addiction Policy:

Source: European Drug Report 2014: Trends and developments/EMCDDA

And a widely cited study published in 2010 in the British Journal of Criminology found that after decriminalization, Portugal saw a decrease in imprisonment on drug-related charges alongside a surge in visits to health clinics that deal with addiction and disease.

Not a cure but certainly not a disaster: Many advocates for decriminalizing or legalizing illicit drugs around the world have gloried in Portugal’s success. They point to its effectiveness as an unambiguous sign that decriminalization works.

But some social scientists have cautioned against attributing all the numbers to decriminalization itself, as there are other factors at play in the national decrease in overdoses, disease and usage.

At the turn of the millennium, Portugal shifted drug control from the Justice Department to the Ministry of Health and instituted a robust public health model for treating hard drug addiction. It also expanded the welfare system in the form of a guaranteed minimum income. Changes in the material and health resources for at-risk populations for the past decade are a major factor in evaluating the evolution of Portugal’s drug situation.

Alex Stevens, a professor of criminal justice at the University of Kent and co-author of the aforementioned criminology article, thinks the global community should be measured in its takeaways from Portugal.

“The main lesson to learn decriminalizing drugs doesn’t necessarily lead to disaster, and it does free up resources for more effective responses to drug-related problems,”  Stevens told Mic.

The road ahead: As Portugal faces a precarious financial situation, there are risks that the country could divest from its health services that are so vital in keeping the addicted community as healthy as possible and more likely to re-enter sobriety.

That would be a shame for a country that has illustrated so effectively that treating drug addiction as a moral problem — rather than a health problem — is a dead end.

In a 2011 New Yorker article discussing how Portugal has fared since decriminalizing, the author spoke with a doctor who discussed the vans that patrol cities with chemical alternatives to the hard drugs that addicts are trying to wean themselves off of. The doctor reflected on the spectacle of people lining up at the van, still slaves of addiction, but defended the act: “Perhaps it is a national failing, but I prefer moderate hope and some likelihood of success to the dream of perfection and the promise of failure.”

Silk Road 3 Is Already Up, But It’s Not the Future of Darknet Drugs

Silk Road 3 Is Already Up, But It's Not the Future of Darknet DrugsEXPAND

There are three things you can count on in life: Death, taxes, and people buying drugs on the internet. Yesterday, the FBI seized black market website Silk Road 2.0 and charged the alleged admin Blake Benthall in federal court, trumpeting its bust with a sassy takedown notice.

This is a blow to the cocaine information superhighway crowd, sure, but don’t expect digital dealers to go cold turkey anytime soon. Within a few hours, “Silk Road 3 Reloaded” (http://qxvfcavhse45ckpw.onion/login.php) went live, though as the Daily Dot points out, it’s actually an existing drug bazaar rebranded to capitalize on the post-raid hype. But even if 3.0 turns into 4.0 turns into 5.0, Silk Road and its ilk aren’t the future of deep web contraband. More likely, the latest bust will only buoy a new wave of decentralized markets.

I talked to Carlos Lopez (a pseudonym, naturally), a prominent darknet vendor, about what the future of darknet drug deals looks like after the raid. “For any site nowadays longevity is vital, and for me as a vendor thinking long-term, and for me to take it seriously, it would need to be decentralized,” he told me over encrypted email.

Peer-to-peer markets will not have a “Dread Pirate Roberts” at the helm. Without a figurehead/operator to arrest and a main datacenter, it would be far more difficult for law enforcement to seize a decentralized dark market. Using this model, people could create any number of different markets, and law enforcement would have to cast a far wider net to arrest vendors and buyers instead of going after admin. (And that will probably happen, but it will declaw any drug bust PR.)

“The revolution that DPR (alleged Ross Albricht) started is continuing unabated, even though the mantel will probably be taken up by another entity,” said Lopez.

There is already one decentralized market gaining support after this raid, called OpenBazaar. It’s not meant to be a hub of drug sales; it’s meant to be an eBay rival. OpenBazaar wants to work for all peer-to-peer commerce, and while markets like Silk Road and Evolution focused on illegal product sales, OpenBazaar does not. That doesn’t mean that people can’t use it to sell drugs, though. They very much could. And when they do, it’ll be harder for law enforcement to arrest a figurehead, because there won’t be one.

OpenBazaar isn’t ready for secure transactions yet, and it’s still in beta. But it has a savvy team of volunteer developers prepping it, including Google software engineer Dionysis Zindros. It could represent an interesting development for peer-to-peer transactions of all types, but since the darknet’s drug community is currently without a secure home, it could also turn into a safer option for former Silk Road vendors and buyers.

And they need one. The FBI is correct when it says the Silk Road is a road to prison. Selling drugs is illegal, even if you know how to use Tor, and law enforcement is more aggressive than ever at picking these markets off.

Along with Silk Road 2, Europol says upwards of 50 markets, including Cloud 9 and Hydra, were seized this week as part of a joint operation between the FBI, Europol, and Interpol known as “Onymous.” This raid included the forum of a defunct market called Cannabis Road, emphasizing that law enforcement are interested in scouring through comments to find participants, not just in the operators. They mean business.

There are still enough options functioning that vendors and buyers can just hopscotch to the next one when these seizures happen. Markets like Evolution and Agora evaded seizure (unless, of course, they’re honeypots). But this constellation of raids is not the last we’ll see.

“Fuck It, I Quit”: Cannabis Club-Owning Reporter Quits On Air

If you’re going to leave your TV gig for a life toiling at marijuana legalization, do it with some panache. At the end of a segment on a cannabis club last night, Alaskan news reporter Charlo Greene revealed herself as the club’s owner and availed herself of any journalistic conflict of interest with four words: “Fuck it, I quit.”

The KTVA reporter’s monologue, captured in the video above, is delivered with supreme confidence:

Now, everything you’ve heard is why I, the actual owner of the Alaska Cannabis Club, will be dedicating all of my energy toward fighting for freedom and fairness, which begins with legalizing marijuana here in Alaska. And as for this job—well, not that I have a choice—but fuck it, I quit.

Greene told Alaska Dispatch she left KTVA in such a dramatic fashion to call attention to weed legalization. KTVA news director Bert Rudman posted an apology statement on the network’s Facebook page:

We sincerely apologize for the inappropriate language used by a KTVA reporter during her live presentation on the air tonight. The employee has been terminated.

The Alaska Cannabis Club, according to Alaska Dispatch, “connects medical marijuana cardholders with other cardholders who are growing cannabis.” In November, ballot Measure 2 will ask Alaskan voters to decide whether to legalize adult use and sale of cannabis in the state.

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