Smoking or dabbing weed requires some work — at least if your goal is maximum enjoyment.
You have to know how to grind or prepare the flower, and how to use the equipment properly. Even if you’re just packing a bowl, the little details can make a big difference.
Vaping is easier if you’re using a vape pen and cartridge, but it won’t be as satisfying as when you’re using a more complicated vaporizer.
There’s not much work involved in consuming an edible. If you’ve done much research, though, you certainly know that making your edibles can take hours.
Not everyone has that sort of time to devote to weed. Can’t you just eat it?
Sure, and some people do. They just won’t get high. And neither will you if you simply swallow some flower.
Let’s find out why.
Cannabis and Cannabinoids
We’ll start with the obvious. THC is primarily responsible for the psychoactive effects of cannabis. Weed’s other cannabinoids, terpenes, and phytochemicals work together with THC in an “entourage effect” that boosts potency. But without THC, you don’t get high.
Here’s what many people realize, however: there’s no THC in marijuana.
Most of the cannabinoids in weed exist in a “precursor” stage. In other words, they’re substances that don’t have all of the properties of cannabinoids until they’re activated.
That’s why we say there’s no THC in marijuana. The plant contains a non-psychoactive acid known as THCA, the precursor to THC which is only converted to psychoactive THC when it’s exposed to temperatures well over 170ºF. (Sunlight can eventually turn some THCA into THC, but that takes a very long time.)
It’s easy to understand why most people don’t even think about the THC vs. THCA issue. When you smoke or vape weed (or dab concentrates), heat is used to generate smoke or vapor. That heat automatically changes THCA into THC, and you’re able to get high.
Otherwise, cannabis must be exposed to heat before its THC is activated. And if you’ve ever heard that weed has to be “decarbed” before you can use it to make edibles, that’s what’s going on.
Decarb is short for “decarboxylate,” which describes the physical change that turns THCA molecules into THC. Decarbing is commonly accomplished by putting herb into an oven for 30-45 minutes at a temperature around 200°F — enough heat to get the job done without doing any damage to the weed.
Still with us? We hope so because we’ve just explained why you won’t get high if you simply eat raw weed: it doesn’t contain psychoactive THC until it’s been properly decarbed.
Decarbing marijuana and then eating it would let you get stoned, but that full process could take an hour or so. The weed would also taste pretty awful unless it’s turned into an edible.
Of course, not everyone consumes weed to get wasted.
Reasons Why Some People Eat Raw Weed
The potential medical benefits of cannabis have been well-established. That’s why more than two-thirds of U.S. states have already legalized medical marijuana.
Most of those benefits are provided by THC and another cannabinoid, CBD.
You already know that THC isn’t present in raw weed; it has to be activated by heat. The same is true for CBD; CBDA is the cannabinoid acid found in raw cannabis, and it only turns into CBD when it’s heated.
So here’s what you might think: to benefit from medical marijuana you have to smoke it, vape it, or consume it after it’s been decarbed. That’s the only way to get THC and CBD into your body.
That’s true if you want weed’s full medicinal benefits. It turns out, though, that THCA and CBDA provide health benefits as well.
And that’s why some people eat raw weed.
The Health and Wellness Benefits Related to Raw Weed
There’s much more research on medical marijuana than raw cannabis. However, several studies have found that eating raw weed is also apparently good for your health.
Health Benefits of THCA and CBDA
THCA and CBDA appear to provide some of the same medicinal benefits as THC and CBD — although not necessarily at the same levels.
Many common diseases and illnesses can be caused by inflammation in the body, including heart disease, arthritis, diabetes, and cancer. THC and CBD have been shown to fight that inflammation.
However, a detailed study of cannabinoids and cannabinoid acids found that THC isn’t alone. THCA and CBDA also provide measurable anti-inflammatory effects.
In addition, research has shown that THCA can effectively fight inflammatory liver diseases in animals.
There’s growing evidence that the THC in medical marijuana can be an effective weapon against neurodegenerative diseases like Alzheimer’s disease and Huntington’s disease, as well as a potential treatment for traumatic brain injury and cognitive decline.
Recently, animal studies conducted in Austria and Spain have indicated that THCA may provide the same type of neuroprotective effects, promoting brain health while preventing death or damage to brain cells.
Another Spanish study published just a couple of years ago found that THCA worked to reduce body weight and fat mass in obese mice, in addition to lowering their insulin resistance and glucose intolerance. That doesn’t mean that THCA would do the same in humans, of course, but the results are promising.
Nausea and Vomiting
A recent animal study, this one with rats, showed that the use of THCA and CBDA was even more effective at preventing nausea and vomiting than THC and CBD, which are commonly used to help chemotherapy patients deal with the side effects of their treatment.
Other Health Effects of Raw Marijuana
Putting aside the potential medical benefits of the cannabinoid acids in marijuana, there are other arguments for consuming raw weed:
- Vitamins and Minerals: Cannabis isn’t just psychoactive — it’s a plant. And it contains a wealth of micronutrients, including vitamins C and K, iron, calcium, and folate.
- Terpenes: These compounds are well-known for their effects on weed’s flavor, appearance, and potency. But some terpenes common to the cannabis plant, like anthocyanins, also provide immune system support and contribute to heart health.
- Fiber: Cannabis is very high in dietary fiber, essential for proper digestion and gastrointestinal health.
Make no mistake; many green plants are tastier than raw cannabis. But eating weed won’t do you any harm, and it provides many health and wellness benefits — even if it doesn’t get you high.
Can You Eat Weed: FAQ
Q: Is there any way to eat raw weed other than just making a salad out of it?
A: Pouring salad dressing over raw weed would certainly make the taste more palatable than munching on the flower or leaves. But to release all of the healthy compounds in raw marijuana, it’s best to grind it finely and sprinkle it over food or mix it into a smoothie.
Q: Can you get nutritional supplements containing THCA and CBDA?
A: Not in America. The FDA prohibits calling anything that contains any part of the weed plant a “supplement.” However, they have left the door open slightly, saying “ingredients derived from cannabis that do not contain CBD or THC might be able to be used in foods or dietary supplements.” The argument could be made that CBDA and THCA would fall under that umbrella exception, although no one’s made it yet.
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