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Alana Rossi
August 19, 2023

Decarboxylation refers to the chemical reaction of removing a carboxyl group and releasing carbon dioxide to activate the psychoactive compounds like THC and CBD so they cause cannabis' signature euphoric and therapeutic effects when consumed. In their natural raw herbal form, the precursor acids of psychoactive cannabinoids such as THCA and CBDA exhibit negligible physiological effects. Heating cannabis sufficiently transforms these compounds through decarboxylation into the more well known THC and CBD, making them fully effective when entering the bloodstream and binding to endocannabinoid receptors throughout the body and brain.

Simply smoking or vaporizing cannabis in the process of consumption already provides the heat naturally needed to decarb plant material. However, cannabis destined for edible recipes or topical products must first go through an intentional decarboxylation step before infusion to activate its psychoactive ingredients. The most common decarboxylation method for at-home use is traditional dry baking of ground cannabis flower or concentrate spread thinly at temperatures between 220-250°F for 30-60 minutes which serves to gently activate compounds while avoiding degradation.

Higher heats and longer decarb times can still damage terpenes and begin converting cannabinoids into less desirable byproducts. Finding that perfect golden decarboxylation sweet spot truly maximizes cannabinoid conversion into their active forms without sacrificing other delicate compounds. When unsure if your edible cannabis material has been fully decarboxylated before ingestion, wait at least one hour before considering consuming more as a precaution, since any pronounced effects sneaking up on you later clearly indicates successful decarboxylation has indeed taken place.

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