Cannabis Cooking Basics with Laurie Wolf: How to activate your marijuana

activate your marijuana
Photo: Bruce Wolf

Fun fact: eating raw cannabis plants won’t get you stoned. You need to heat up the active molecules in pot to make it work. It’s a process called ‘decarboxylation.’ Time for some Weed Chemistry 101.

Decarboxylation, or ‘decarbing’ for short, converts the plant’s main active ingredient tetrahydrocannabinol-acid (THCA) into the euphoria-causing “THC”. It also turns pot’s second most common ingredient cannabidiol-acid (CBDA) into “CBD”, which is largely responsible for cannabis’ health benefits. Because we have special nerve cell receptors in our body that respond to THC and CBD, consuming or smoking cannabis triggers various changes in our body. Getting high is just one effect. Some people also get relief from joint pain, insomnia, migraines, neuropathy, and loss of appetite.

You can decarboxylate buds by simply heating them — for example, by smoking them in a joint. But if you’re adding cannabis to a recipe, you’ll want to take the time to decarb it before you cook. That way, you’ll get the most potency — psychoactive and otherwise — from your cannabis. This also removes moisture from the plant, decreasing the chances of bacterial growth. Here’s how to decarb: