The Science Of Cannabis
The use of cannabis is most widely spread in the form of a recreational drug. However, cannabis products can also be used in home cooking. Making homemade edibles with cannabis gives the option to control how much cannabis is included. Besides its psychoactive effects, cannabis is also examined for its medicinal properties.
Cannabis plant has two main subspecies Cannabis indica and Cannabis sativa, the latter is preferred due to its higher THC content. The cannabis plant contains 426 chemical compounds, the most researched are THC and CBD which have opposing effects.
Tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) is one of the 113 cannabinoids found in cannabis, but it is the main psychoactive agent. THC binds to the cannabinoid receptors (CB) 1 and 2 located in the central nervous system and on immune cells, respectively. When administered, THC increases heart rate and causes psychological reactions.
Cannabidiol (CBD) can effectively block most of the effects of THC, and can also decrease anxiety. It has a pleasurable and more calming effect. CBD is also examined as a possible antipsychotic drug. CBD as well as THC are fat soluble and are absorbed the best with lipids.
Cooking With Cannabis
What is important when preparing food with cannabis is to decarboxylate the plant. In order to get the active substance THC the marijuana plant should be heated to activate the tetrahydrocannabinolic acid (THCA). THCA is not psychoactive, so it should be converted to THC to ensure more powerful effect.
Decarboxylation can be done with baking the plant in kitchen oven for 30 – 60 min (depending on the moisture of the plant) at 120C. Be careful not to burn the plant leaves. Mix them frequently, every 10 – 15 min. Be aware that the smell will be present everywhere.
Dissolving in fat
When mixing cannabis with butter make sure you decarboxylate. You can also grind the plant but it may cause change in color of the butter. Do not grind it into powder. It is better to grind it manually using mortar and pestle, food processor or blender until roughly grinded.
To make cannabis oil (canola, vegetable, coconut, peanut) or cannabutter, put the plant with oil/butter in a pan and cook it slowly/simmer for about 3 hours at around 80C. You can monitor the temperature suing a cooking thermometer. You can remove the plant parts from the butter by straining (use a kitchen cloth or cheese filter). Let gravity take its course, do not squeeze through. Store in a fridge for up to three months.
Use of cannabis oil/butter
This butter can be used for preparing vegetables, but also as the basis for sweets needing butter like chocolate cake, cookies or brownies. When using this butter for cooking, make sure you mix everything thoroughly. Otherwise, uneven distribution will result in some people feeling the effect while others will not. Oil can also be used as a salad dressing.
Cannabis honey can be prepared using the same process as for oil/butter. It can be used for spicing things up in teas, drizzled over sweets etc. It can be kept for 1 – 2 months in a cool dry place.
Most plants today contain 15 – 20% THC. This means that 1 g of marijuana has 200 mg of THC. For beginners a single-size portion contains 5 – 10 mg THC. In theory this means that from 1 g marijuana you can make 20 single-size portions. Due to losses during cooking, the starting amount can be doubled.
When orally digested, cannabis products have a 6 – 10% bioavailability rate. During their metabolization in the body, 9-THC can be converted to 11-hydroxy-THC which crosses the blood-brain barrier and can cause unwanted side-effects like disorientation, dizziness and hallucinations.
There is no single recipe for cooking with cannabis. You have to try and see what works best for you. Always keep food with cannabis out of the reach of children. Make sure you label everything correctly. When planning to use it on a party plan ahead as it usually takes 1 – 2 hours to feel the effects of the THC. Calculate this time in the complete experience.
You should be aware that the use of cannabis and its potential addictive effects are still investigated. Studies also suggest that the use of cannabis can increase the risk of developing a psychotic illness in a dose dependent manner. Who is at greater risk of developing such illness is still unknown.
Please be aware that the use of marijuana and cannabis-based products may be illegal in your country. Check the legal restrictions before engaging in any activities involving cannabis.
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