Along with other psychoactive cannabinoids, THC is ahydrophobic oil, meaning it is insoluble in water but soluble in lipids (oil/fat) and alcohol.
Explore this issueDecember/January 2016
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It’s necessary to use either oil or fat to extract THC from cannabis in order to have the cooked product be psychoactive.
That’s because cannabis’ most abundant cannabinoid, tetrahydrocannabinolic acid (THCA), is not very psychoactive. Thus, during preparation, the cannabis or its extract must be heated sufficiently or dehydrated to cause decarboxylation because it is only when the carboxyl group is removed that THC becomes psychoactive.
In the cooking of edible psychoactive products, some research indicates that heating cannabis to a temperature of 251 degrees Fahrenheit for 27 minutes to be the optimum method to optimize THC:THCA ratios.
Hot on the market is CO2 oil, a concentrate made possible by expensive botanical extractors that use pressure and CO2 to separate plant material. This method, called supercritical fluid extraction, is one of the most effective ways of reducing cannabis to its essential compounds.
Under the umbrella of cannabis concentrates falls any product procured through an extraction process. Solvents such as butane, CO2, or ethanol strip compounds from the cannabis plant, leaving behind a product with cannabinoids packed in every drop. Some types of extracts test as high as 80 percent in THC, while others are rich in non-psychoactive compounds like CBD and deliver an altogether “high-less” experience.
Hashish, a.k.a. hash, is a cannabis product composed of compressed or purified preparations of stalked resin glands, called trichomes. Hashish contains the same active ingredients as marijuana, including THC and other cannabinoids, but often in higher concentrations than the unsifted buds or leaves from which marijuana is made. —L.L.L.