When you’re preparing a beautiful piece of meat, you usually cut off excess fat and toss it.
When you’re peeling potatoes, you take the peels and throw them away.
When you mow the lawn, you either dump the clippings or compost them. (You may compost your potato peels, too.)
When you’re trimming your cannabis plants while they grow, or getting your harvest ready for drying and curing?
Not so fast.
Sure, you can take the excess leaves and plant material and compost them, or simply toss them into the trash. But you might be wasting some of that healthy and psychoactive cannabis goodness you’ve been cultivating for months.
Weed trim isn’t going to deliver a mind-blowing high or relieve the chronic pain you treat with medical marijuana. But to quote old-time comics, “it ain’t chopped liver,” either.
Let’s talk more about weed trim.
What Exactly Is Weed Trim?
There’s often confusion between two types of “leftovers” from the weed plant: trim and shake.
The word “trim” is normally used to describe the excess plant parts removed from cannabis plants after they’ve been harvested. For the most part, that means the large fan leaves that are the universal symbol for marijuana but don’t contain high levels of cannabinoids or terpenes.
It could also describe the stems and seeds removed from a bud before it’s prepared for use or sale, but those are generally not dignified with a term like “trim.” They’re just thrown away because they’re essentially useless.
Trim is removed for several reasons after a growth. One is that it makes the nugs look more attractive to buyers. The other is that since it isn’t going to be smoked by the end-user, there’s no reason to keep it around.
Conscientious growers also remove fan leaves while the plants are growing as well, in order to improve their yields. Those leaves can also be referred to as “trim.”
The mistake some people make involves the trichomes and small pieces of dried flower and sugar leaves that fall to the bottom of a baggie or stash jar when dried weed is handled. Those people may call stuff trim — but it’s not. It’s called shake, and it’s usually much more potent than trim.
Trim and shake can be used in many of the same ways, although shake will produce more potent results. Shake can be vaped or smoked as well; in fact, most of the pre-rolls sold in dispensaries are made with a shake. It won’t be as satisfying as a top-shelf flower, but it can do the job.
You probably don’t want to smoke trim, though. There simply isn’t enough THC in it to provide a good high, and the smoke it produces is usually quite harsh. It can even cause sore throats and headaches.
But you shouldn’t want to throw it out, either. There’s a lot you can do with weed trim.
5 Things to Do With Leftover Weed Trim
1. Use It to Make Edibles
If you know anything about edibles, of course, you know that you can’t just chop up leftover weed leaves and sprinkle them into brownie or cookie batter.
You first have to decarb (decarboxylate) the trim to activate its THC and other cannabinoids, by baking it in an oven at low heat for 30-40 minutes. After that, you can use the decarbed trim to make cannabutter or canna-oil to be used in your recipes.
The simplest way to make cannabutter is to simmer butter and your trim for 2-3 hours and strain out the plant matter. Canna oil is almost as easy; you simmer the trim and coconut or olive oil in a double boiler for 2-3 hours, and strain.
Since trim isn’t as potent as flower, you may need to use a greater amount of decarbed trim to make butter or oil if you want to create edibles with the same potency. But as with any cannabis-infused food or beverage, trial and error are essential to finding the right balance of ingredients to use.
Also remember that edibles can take an hour or even longer to kick in, and the high will last longer than it does from smoking weed.
2. Use it as a Kitchen Ingredient
Trim has more uses in the kitchen than just for making sweet, psychoactive treats.
These approaches aren’t likely to get you high, but they might make you feel good — or simply provide the health benefits of the weed’s THC and CBD.
- Infuse your morning tea or milk with your trim; it will become activated if you simmer it with water or milk for half an hour. One important warning, though: your body won’t absorb the cannabinoids unless you use full-fat milk or add a little fat (coconut oil is a good choice) to your tea.
- Use the trim as a food seasoning, just like you’d use any other herb. It’s great as an addition to sauces, soups, salad dressings, curries, or other preparations that contains at least a little fat.
- Make a salad with the larger fan leaves or use them instead of spinach or other green veggies in cooking (don’t decarb them, though). Cannabis leaves are loaded with antioxidants, vitamins, and minerals, and will provide numerous health benefits. They’re ideal for making green smoothies, too.
3. Make Weed Tincture
Liquid cannabis is the most discreet way to get the benefits of THC and other cannabinoids. You simply put a few drops under your tongue where it’s quickly absorbed.
Making a tincture is simple. Just soak decarbed ground weed in high-proof alcohol like Everclear for 24 hours, and then strain. You may have to use 2-3 the amount of trim as the amount of flower you’d typically use, but it’s a great way to utilize that trim you have leftover.
4. Make Topical Products
Simmering trim and coconut oil for 45 minutes can create a weed oil that may help relieve topical pain, and you can add other ingredients like essential oils or beeswax to change the oil’s texture and properties. Again, you’ll need more trim than a flower to make an effective product.
5. Make Hash
We’ve saved the best for last — but it does require a little work. Hash is made from the trichomes that are found on cannabis leaves, so they have to be manually removed from your trim.
The simplest approach is to make a dry sift hash, which only requires a series of fine sieves or mesh screens. Rub a piece of plastic (like a credit card) against the trim, so the trichomes fall through the screens to be collected below. The mesh gets smaller and smaller as the resin glands fall through each screen, so you end up with a potent hash at the bottom.
Scrape it all together and you can either sprinkle it into smokeable flower or roll it in joints to power them up another notch. The hash can also be compressed to make rosin for dabbing or vaping.
What to Do With Weed Trim: FAQ
Q: Does trim have to be dried and cured before you use it?
A: Yes, because that’s what locks in its potency and flavor. The good news is that it’s much easier to dry trim than it is to dry weed; simply spread it out on plastic or newspaper and it will be ready for curing in a couple of days.
Q: Is some trim more potent?
A: It’s all dependent on how many trichomes the plant parts contain. If you’ve removed sugar leaves (the small ones that grow around the buds) for any reason, they’ll be almost as potent as the flower. Fan leaves will have far fewer trichomes, but if you want to spend a little time with a magnifying glass you can look for the ones that have the greatest number of those resin glands; they’ll be the ones that will contain the most potency.
Wang, M., Wang, Y. H., Avula, B., Radwan, M. M., Wanas, A. S., van Antwerp, J., … & Khan, I. A. (2016). Decarboxylation study of acidic cannabinoids: a novel approach using ultra-high-performance supercritical fluid chromatography/photodiode array-mass spectrometry. Cannabis and cannabinoid research, 1(1), 262-271.