Decarbing: The Simple Process That Unlocks Your Marijuana's Potential

Sorry, fitness tokers: "decarbing" isn't a miracle weight-loss technique. It's actually short for "decarboxylation," a process that anyone who enjoys cooking with cannabis needs to get right.

Most of us have never tried eating raw, uncured buds - but if we did, we'd likely be disappointed. Uncured cannabis, particularly the plant's trichomes, have high levels of acidic THCa - a compound which, while purportedly providing anti-inflammatory health benefits, doesn't actually get you high.

In order to become psychoactive, the THCa needs to be converted to THC, a process which begins "immediately after harvest," according to The Leaf, "via exposure to heat and sunlight."

Time, and exposure to heat, are the main factors that spur decarboxylation. Smoking and vaporizing speeds up the process, instantly converting THCa into THC and activating other cannabinoids, which are then absorbed through the lungs.

A rookie mistake among aspiring edibles creators is failing to activate the THC by first exposing the herb to heat. You can't simply throw a handful of shake into brownie batter, bake it, and expect to get high.

Happily, decarbing is simple process: before you get cooking, preheat an oven to 220 degrees (fahrenheit), spread a baking sheet with parchment paper, distribute finely-ground cannabis in a single, thin layer, and allow it bake for 30-45 minutes before using.

You can also decarb your material using slow cooker and cooking oil, but be sure to keep an eye on the temperature: decarboxylating at lower heats for a longer time is the best way to preserve terpenes, which offer a more directly psychoactive experience. If you get overzealous with the heat and time, you'll wind up with a product high in CBN, which produces a sleepier "stone" as opposed to an enervating, energizing "high."

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