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If you're new to cooking with cannabis you're probably wondering this: Does cannabis need to be decarboxylated?

Have you ever watched a movie where someone swallows a whole stack of raw cannabis to avoid being caught with it? You may expect the person to be gasping for air with their eyes popping out of their head, right?

If the movie was true-to-life, the aftermath would not be not what you expect. Here's the spoiler: the person will get just a little bit high at best. If you don't believe this, stay tuned and we'll explain why this is the case.

The Answer

The answer lies in a process known as decarboxylation. This process is necessary to feel psychoactive effects when you consume cannabis.

Raw cannabis flowers don't contain much THC. Instead, they have THCA. Compared to THC, THCA molecules has an additional carboxyl group. As long as that carboxyl group is there, you won't get high. The decarboxylation process removes the extra carboxyl group, adding the fun to your marijuana experience.


In legal cannabis markets, weed products are distributed by marijuana dispensaries. Weed products sold at dispensaries have detailed labeling requirements.  Manufacturers must reveal the cannabinoid content of their products.

Some marijuana products contain a lot of THCA. These products are rich in cannabinoids that haven’t gone through the decarboxylation process.

THCA has no psychoactive effect. To get that, it has to go through a conversion process where it is turned into THC using decarboxylation.

Although these products won't get you high, THCA is known for its many benefits when it is consumed. Two of the benefits are neurological and anti-inflammatory qualities.


To make decarboxylation happen, you need time and heat. Over time, drying cannabis will partially decarboxylate. For that reason, when examined, most cannabis flowers show a small amount of THC as well as THCA.

Vaporizing and smoking instantly decarboxylate the cannabinoids as they come in contact with high extremes of temperature. In this case, decarboxylation happens while you consume the cannabis.


Cannabinoids are easily decarboxylated while smoking or vaping. Edibles, though, need to be decarboxylated before they are consumed. That way, you can get high when you digest the edibles.

When you make edibles, cannabinoids are heated in oil at low temperatures over time. In this case, the cannabinoids will be decarboxylated. Then, you can infuse the oil in edibles or cannabis products consumed.


Cannabis users can decarboxylate flower, trim, leaves, and stems in the oven. Simply set the oven temperature between 245ºF to 250ºF. Place the raw cannabis inside an ovenproof dish and cover with two layers of tin foil. Heat for 20-40 minutes until cannabis is dry and brittle. 

Some people think that cannabis can be decarboxylated using a slow cooker. Although this is true, full decarboxylation won't happen while you make your canna-butter. To get the best cannabutter, decarboxylate your weed in the oven before you add oil.

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There's never been a better time to start your cannabis career and learn to cook with cannabis like a pro! Jobs are booming as legalization efforts increase worldwide. To find out more about cooking with cannabis, enroll in Cannabis Training University.

Karen Getchell, expert cannabis writer
Karen Getchell

Karen gained expertise in developing training programs and technical documentation as a Senior Editor at Cisco Systems. She began her journey in cannabis as a patient, searching for a way to heal herself. When she perfected a method for making cannabis oil, other patients began to seek her out. An early adopter of CBD medicine, she started her CBD-infused-products business in 2014. Over the last two decades, Karen has taught hundreds of patients and caregivers how to select strains, infuse oils, and extract cannabinoids.

When she isn’t teaching cannabis cooking classes, Karen works as a cannabis business consultant, writes for online cannabis publications like Cannabis Training University, Leafly, and Weedmaps, and runs a CBD-infused-product business.

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