There aren’t many options if you want to enjoy some weed discreetly.
The aroma of burning flower is a dead giveaway, even you use a one-hitter. Vaping leaves an odor, too, as does dabbing. You can drop some tincture under your tongue, but that looks a little odd when you do it in public.
Edibles can work — at least until a co-worker or relative asks you for some.
The best option? Canna caps, which are easy-to-swallow weed capsules. No one will know that the capsules contain cannabis instead of allergy or prescription medications, and a little while later you’ll have a nice buzz going.
THC capsules are available in many dispensaries these days, but they’re quite expensive.
The cost-conscious alternative is to make your own cannabis capsules.
How Do Canna Caps Work?
These capsules work almost exactly like an edible but without the added calories.
They’re packed with some form of decarbed marijuana; sometimes flower, sometimes kief, sometimes cannabis oil or concentrate. The weed is often mixed with coconut oil, which makes the THC in the herb easier for the digestive system to absorb. The capsules are made from an easily-digestible material as well, usually vegetable starch or gelatin.
Once you swallow a canna cap, the same thing happens as when you eat a cannabis-infused edible. It lands in the stomach where it’s digested, and the THC is “freed” from the weed. From there, the cannabinoid is sent to the liver to be metabolized and turned into a compound very similar to THC, 11-hydroxy-THC — which is more potent than THC and lasts longer.
11-hydroxy-THC then moves through the bloodstream and up to the brain, where it can provide the psychoactive effects and medical benefits you expect. So canna caps work well. They just don’t work quickly.
When you smoke or vape weed, you start to feel the effects within minutes because the THC is absorbed by the lungs and hits the bloodstream quickly. But just as with edibles, there’s a time lag while cannabis capsules are digested, and the THC is metabolized. It can be 30 minutes, 60 minutes, or even longer before the effects are felt.
Canna caps pack a punch when they finally do hit you, though. 11-hydroxy-THC is two or three times more potent than THC, and its high may not wear off for six hours, occasionally even longer than that. And obviously, taking these capsules is as discreet as could be imagined.
We’re guessing that we’ve piqued your interest, and we haven’t even mentioned the best part.
It’s easy to make cannabis capsules at home.
How to Make Canna Caps
As we’ve mentioned, cannabis capsules can be simply be filled with dry flower, but they won’t be as effective as coconut oil that’s been infused with weed. That’s the approach we’ll take here.
It’s also important to realize that dosing is an inexact science. This recipe will produce capsules that are approximately 5 milligrams apiece, but the exact dosage will depend on the potency of your weed and how much oil you put into each capsule.
Just as with edibles, trial and error is the only way to find the dose that works for you, and it’s best to start low and increase slowly. To “cheat” on the process, you can either have your capsules tested at a lab to determine the dosage you’re starting at or purchase an inexpensive home potency tester.
Step 1: Assemble Your Equipment and Ingredients
To make canna caps, you’ll need:
- 7 grams of bud (you can also use trimmings or kief, but the capsules’ potency will vary accordingly)
- ½ cup of virgin coconut oil (MCT coconut oil is best, extra virgin olive oil will also work)
- Size “0” gelatin capsules (available at most drug stores, health food stores, and online)
- Baking sheet and bowl
- Aluminum foil
- Slow cooker (you can use a pot, but the infusion won’t be as potent)
- Syringe (medicine dropper style without a needle, also available at drug stores and online)
Step 2: Decarb Your Weed
The raw flower contains the precursor cannabinoid acid THCA, which has to be converted into psychoactive THC before ingesting it. If you want medical benefits without getting high, THCA may provide them. You can skip this step if desired.
- Break or grind the weed into small pieces, each about the size of a grain of rice.
- Crumple a piece of aluminum foil and spread it out on the baking sheet.
- Place the weed on the foil in a single layer, and cover with another piece of foil.
- Bake at 225° for 30-45 minutes until the flower is golden brown. Cool.
Step 3: Make Your Cannabis Oil
If you’re using a pot instead of a slow cooker, cut the cooking time by one-third.
- Grind the decarbed weed into a fine powder.
- Set the slow cooker to “low.” When it’s heated, add the coconut oil.
- Add the ground herb to the oil, making sure it’s mixed well.
- Cook for 2-3 hours with low heat, stirring twice an hour. Cool partially; the oil must still be warm when filling capsules, or it will solidify.
- Strain the infused oil through cheesecloth into the bowl. After straining, squeeze the cheesecloth over the bowl to collect any remaining oil.
Step 4: Make Your Capsules
Some people use commercially-available capsule-filling machines, which make this task much easier and less time-consuming. If you’re going to regularly be making canna caps, it’s a great investment that should cost less than 20 bucks. Just be sure that the machine accommodates the size of your capsules.
- Fill the syringe with oil.
- Fill each capsule until it’s about 80% full.
- Repeat until you’ve filled all of the capsules or used all of the oil.
- Refrigerate the capsules until use. They can come out of the fridge for a while before you use them, as long as you keep them in a dark location.
The oil may change its color inside the refrigerated capsules; that’s normal. It’s only caused by the oil solidifying. This recipe should make about 40-50 capsules.
Canna Caps — How to Make Your Own Cannabis Capsules: FAQ
Q: You can make these capsules with weed concentrate, right?
A: Yes, you can use shatter, hash, BSO, or other concentrates. They just have to be decarbed (if necessary) and heated with the coconut oil for half an hour or so, and the oil can then be used to fill your capsules. Just remember that they’ll be much more potent, so be very careful with dosing.
Q: Are these canna caps vegan?
A: No, gelatin capsules are generally made with animal gelatin. However, you can buy capsules that have been made with vegetable starch instead of gelatin and make your vegan caps.
Lemberger, L., Martz, R., Rodda, B., Forney, R., & Rowe, H. (1973). Comparative pharmacology of Δ 9-tetrahydrocannabinol and its metabolite, 11-OH-Δ 9-tetrahydrocannabinol. The Journal of clinical investigation, 52(10), 2411-2417 .
Barrus, D. G., Capogrossi, K. L., Cates, S. C., Gourdet, C. K., Peiper, N. C., Novak, S. P., … & Wiley, J. L. (2016). Tasty THC: promises and challenges of cannabis edibles. Methods report (RTI Press), 2016 .