The optimal decarboxylation of THC and CBD due by heating

By Dr. Med. Franjo Grotenhermen

THC and CBD should be heated before use in order for the pharmacological effects to be fully implemented. For the optimal way of taking cannabis it is essential to take care about the ideal heating.

Cannabinoids exist in the cannabis plant mostly under the form of the so called carboxylic acids. Heating converts the two THC acids (THCA) into phenolic THC, and the CBD-carboxylic acid (CBDA) into phenolic CBD. This process, whereby a carbon dioxide molecule is cleaved from the acid is called decarboxylation. Yet, only the phenolic THC causes psychological effects and most, although not all, therapeutic effects. A few seconds at high temperatures are sufficient for this process to occur, however, at lower temperatures, the heating time required increases to minutes or hours.

Nonetheless, if THC is heated for too long, it will be further oxidised into cannabinol (CBN), which exerts only low pharmacological effects.

What are the ideal conditions for the decarboxylation of cannabinoids?

Dr. Rudolf Brenneisen, a professor at the university of Bern (Switzerland), had already stated in the 1980s that a complete decarboxylation takes place when THC is heated for 5 minutes at 190°C without any relevant amounts of CBN emerging. In 2013, Dr Brenneisen presented a study concerning the decarboxylation of THC and CBD by using vaporizers. At a temperature of 210°C, four different vaporizers were tested, resulting in the almost complete decarboxylation of both THCA as well as CBDA. Both substances had been decarboxylated by more than 98 percent within few seconds.

Further information concerning optimal conditions for decarboxylation can be found in patents of the British company GW Pharmaceuticals. These refer to lower temperatures and a longer heating time. With these proposed methods, 95 percent of the carboxylic acid cannabinoids are converted into their phenolic form, while the degradation of THC into CBN is limited to 10 percent. The decarboxylation should preferably be performed in 2 steps: in the first step, the plant material is heated to a certain temperature for a relatively short period of time in order to evaporate residual water and to allow uniform heating of the plant material. In the second step, the plant material is heated for a longer period of time.

Preferably, the first step of converting THCA into THC is to be performed over a period of 10-20 minutes at a temperature in the range of 100-110°C. In the second step, the plant material is to be heated for around 60 – 120 minutes at 100°C – 110°C. At these temperatures, many terpenes (compounds responsible for the smell and taste) and several pharmacological effects of cannabis are preserved. In case that CBDA should be converted into the neutral CBD, 120°C for 60 minutes are indicated for the second step. The heated plant material can be further processed.

What preparation and consumption forms are optimal?

It is not necessary to meet the optimum conditions in terms of temperature and time of the heating; however, there are more suitable as well as less suitable preparations. A heating of 5 to 10 minutes at 100°C, as it occurs in the preparation of cannabis tea, causes an incomplete decarboxylation of the cannabinoids and leads therefore to low yield, according to Leiden University.

At 100°C the plant material should be heated for a time period of 60 – 120 minutes. This is, for instance, the method used in the production of cannabis extract olive oil. Here, a few grams of cannabis flowers can be added to olive oil or any other kind of oil, which is then be heated in a bain-marie for one or two hours. The cannabinoids and terpenes find their way into the oil while being simultaneously decarboxylated.

Cannabis flowers and leaves can equally be decarboxylated with some grease, in an oven or pan. However, one should be careful not to reach temperatures of more than 150°C because THC vaporizes at around 155°C.

In the production of hashish oil, a concentrated cannabis extract, with for example ethanol, only low temperatures are achieved since ethanol evaporates at 80°C. However, it is possible that an incomplete decarboxylation will be achieved. In this case, it might be better to perform a decarboxylation beforehand, e.g. in the oven, prior to extraction. Yet, there is no scientific data backing this methodology.

In the production of pastries with hashish or crumbled plant material, ordinary recipes can be used. The necessary temperatures of 150 – 160°C as well as the required backing time are close to optimum.

In extreme temperatures of 500°C to 900°C, as commonly occurring when smoking a cannabis cigarette, or when vaporizing cannabinoids at 210°C, a few seconds are enough in order to convert THCA in THC or, in other words, to ‘activate’ it.

Grow Training with Jorge Cervantes

  • Latest Canadian cannabis recalls include melting vape pens, moldy bud
    by Solomon Israel on January 21, 2021 at 6:39 pm

    Canadian cannabis products recalled in January include defective all-in-one vape pens from Hexo Corp. as well as moldy marijuana from Saskatchewan processor AgroGreens Natural Products and mislabeled bud from Manitoba’s Delta 9 Bio-Tech. Hexo’s recall, announced Jan. 12 by the Ontario Cannabis Store (OCS) online retailer, impacted three types of disposable vape pens. Hexo told Latest Canadian cannabis recalls include melting vape pens, moldy bud is a post from: Marijuana Business Daily: Financial, Legal & Cannabusiness news for cannabis entrepreneurs

  • Cannabis MSO Verano announces $100M subscription receipt financing
    by Solomon Israel on January 21, 2021 at 6:35 pm

    Multistate cannabis operator Verano Holdings raised $100 million in subscription receipt financing in connection with a reverse-takeover deal that will see the company go public on the Canadian Securities Exchange. The Chicago-based firm, which currently operates in 12 U.S. states, made the announcement Thursday. The deal is expected to close in February. Verano previously said Cannabis MSO Verano announces $100M subscription receipt financing is a post from: Marijuana Business Daily: Financial, Legal & Cannabusiness news for cannabis entrepreneurs

  • Keegan Peterson, founder/CEO of marijuana tech firm Wurk, dies at 33
    by Bart Schaneman on January 21, 2021 at 5:56 pm

    Marijuana industry executive Keegan Peterson, who founded Denver HR tech company Wurk, has died at 33. Keegan Peterson, founder/CEO of marijuana tech firm Wurk, dies at 33 is a post from: Marijuana Business Daily: Financial, Legal & Cannabusiness news for cannabis entrepreneurs

  • Czech medical cannabis sales surge, but market remains small
    by Alfredo Pascual on January 21, 2021 at 4:12 pm

    The Czech market for medical cannabis flower quadrupled last year compared to 2019, according to data published by the State Agency for Medical Cannabis. However, the market remains very small. In 2020, roughly 68 kilograms (150 pounds) of medical cannabis flower was sold to patients in Czech pharmacies, compared with 17 kilograms the year before, Czech medical cannabis sales surge, but market remains small is a post from: Marijuana Business Daily: Financial, Legal & Cannabusiness news for cannabis entrepreneurs

  • These four states could legalize medical marijuana through legislation in 2021
    by Jeff Smith on January 21, 2021 at 11:30 am

    Four red states – Alabama, Kansas, Kentucky and South Carolina – could legalize medical marijuana through their legislatures this year, and, if successful, they could generate hundreds of millions of dollars in business opportunities across the supply chain over time. Legalization seems more likely in the southeastern states after Mississippi voters approved a citizen-driven medical These four states could legalize medical marijuana through legislation in 2021 is a post from: Marijuana Business Daily: Financial, Legal & Cannabusiness news for cannabis entrepreneurs

  • Cannabis firm CannTrust reaches agreement to settle shareholder claims
    by Solomon Israel on January 20, 2021 at 11:36 pm

    Embattled Canadian cannabis producer CannTrust Holdings on Wednesday announced a restructuring support agreement that will pave the way for the company to settle shareholder lawsuits as it restructures. Under the agreement, shareholders’ litigation against CannTrust in both Canada and the United States “will be settled as part of a broader restructuring of the company” under Cannabis firm CannTrust reaches agreement to settle shareholder claims is a post from: Marijuana Business Daily: Financial, Legal & Cannabusiness news for cannabis entrepreneurs

Translate »

Subscribe To Our Newsletter

Join our mailing list to receive the latest news and updates from our team.

You have Successfully Subscribed!