Decarboxylation Explained: Why It’s So Important for Your Cannabis

Republished with permission from Hempster an Evio Community Partner

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To feel the effects of cannabis, it first needs to be heated. Of course, you might be wondering why that is, along with what decarboxylation is and why it is important. To get a better understanding, we need to learn a bit more about the cannabis plant. Two things need to happen prior to the cannabis becoming psychoactive.

The bud needs to be dried and aged, and heat needs to be applied to the cannabis. Heating is more effective than aging, as it will help to activate the plant’s compounds.

What Does Decarboxylation Mean?

While the word has a clear scientific ring to it, you will find that the explanation for the term is quite simple. In fact, even the process is simple. All you need to do if you hope to decarboxylate your marijuana is heat it. When you apply the heat to the plant matter, it causes the chemicals inside to react.

The heat will alter the cannabinoid acids in the marijuana into compounds that are usable and that will cause the psychogenic effects that you desire. Those compounds bind with the body through our endocannabinoid receptors. Several other terms are used for this process including activating and decarbing.

The drying process remains important. When the plant is in its raw form, it does not contain active compounds like THC, the main psychoactive compound. Instead, it contains compounds like THCA, which is non-psychoactive. To get the active compounds, drying and heating, as mentioned, are the steps you need to take. This is why you will not receive the effects of the cannabis when consuming it raw.

Simply put, without decarboxylation, you will not obtain the therapeutic compounds and you won’t get a THC high. When buying flower from a licensed producer in Canada, it will always be dried appropriately for your use.

Do You Always Want to Decarboxylate?

One of the questions that you will sometimes here is whether you always need to decarb the cannabis. When you have raw, uncured cannabis that has not been dried and cured, it can still provide some impressive health benefits. The non-active compounds in cannabis have therapeutic benefits without considerable psychoactive effects.

Like many of your familiar greens, fresh cannabis is full of health-boosting vitamins and minerals as well as anti-inflammatory benefits. Accordingly, many people use fresh cannabis in juices and smoothies in addition to your favourite fruits and veggies.

Those who are considering making edibles will want to decarboxylate before they begin the cooking process. This way, they will still get the full potency of the cannabis.

How to Decarboxylate Cannabis in 3 Easy Steps

If you are smoking or vaping your cannabis, decarboxylation is inherently happening during the act of lighting or heating the marijuana. If you are buying ready made oil or capsules, it will of course already come decarbed and activated.

When cooking oils, tinctures, butters or other edible infusions, the process of decarboxylation starts at about 220-240 degrees Fahrenheit with about half an hour to 45 minutes of exposure to that heat. Some might want to use lower temperatures and wait for a longer period. Once this is done, it can be used in edibles with no problem.

Follow these steps

  1. Preheat oven to 220-240° F.

  2. Break up cannabis buds into smaller pieces and place the material on a baking sheet lined with parchment paper.

  3. Bake for roughly 40 minutes. Watch for the plant color to get darker (a light to medium brown shade). When it is time to remove from the oven, the material should be crumbly looking.


Now that your cannabis is ‘decarbed’ you can make any cannabis extract to start cooking!