• Suzanna Thallman

Why Can I Eat Cannabis Edibles but Not Cannabis Flower?

Updated: Nov 20, 2019

Decarboxylating THCA to THC with an oven

Have you ever wondered why you can eat a cannabis edible, but you are unable to eat cannabis flower and get the medical relief you desire? Have you also noticed that on your lab test results, the THCA content is significantly higher compared to THC?

THCA is the precursor to THC, the cannabinoid generally responsible for the psychoactive effects associated with cannabis (the "high"). While THCA has a number of medical benefits itself, THCA is not intoxicating and must be converted to THC before effects can be felt.

The process of converting THCA to THC is called decarboxylation. Decarboxylation simply occurs with heat and time; drying and curing cannabis over time will cause a partial decarboxylation (this is why you may see a small THC content on your lab tests), and smoking and vaporizing flower will instantaneously decarb the THCA, making THC instantly available for absorption.

Cannabis being prepared for decarboxylation at 240 degrees Fahrenheit

With regards to edibles, decarboxylation will require heating the THCA at approximately 220 degrees Fahrenheit. After around 30-45 minutes the carboxylation will begin, and full decarboxylation will require more time to occur.

Many patients also choose to heat the THCA at a slightly lower temperature for a longer period of time in an attempt to preserve terpenes. Note: the integrity of both cannabinoids and terpenes are compromised at temperatures exceeding 300 degrees Fahrenheit.

Normal cannabis flower vs. cannabis flower that has been decarboxylated

Heat and time can also cause other forms of cannabinoid degradation; for example, as THC oxidizes and degrades, it will convert into CBN, a cannabinoid much more sedative and with less of a psychoactive experience.

Learn more about terpenes, the compounds responsible for giving each strain its own "personality"!

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