What is Decarboxylation and Why Does Weed Need It?

19 Jul 2021

Decarboxylation is one of those long, science-y words that sounds complicated, but really isn’t. In fact, it’s one of the key components of smoking weed! 

Have you ever wondered why weed buds are smoked, vaped, or baked instead of just being eaten ‘raw?’ Is there a reason why nobody has ever tried to add a few raw buds into their vegetable stir-fry? Why can’t we enjoy chocolate-covered weed buds as we do with almonds?

Well, the secret actually lies in that super sciency word we talked about above! 

Decarboxylation is an essential step in the process of enjoying weed and it’s something many of us do each time we smoke up without even knowing! Today, we’ll be covering the ins and outs of what is decarboxylation, why it needs to be done, and how it helps us get high! 

But first, let’s find out how THC works, in the first place.

Cannabis and THC

What Is Decarboxylation

Did you know that weed buds don’t contain any THC at all? Contrary to popular belief, cannabis plants actually only have trace amounts of psychoactive THC. So few, in fact, that you won’t even be able to get high from eating ‘raw’ buds!

Why is this the case? Well, THC is actually formed from the processing of another cannabis compound, THCA

THCA, which stands for tetrahydrocannabinolic acid, is THC’s non-psychoactive cousin. THC-acid is the acid form of THCA, and it’s found in large quantities within cannabis plants. Drying and curing cannabis buds over time will slowly convert the THCA into THC. 

Another way to convert THCA into THC is through decarboxylation.

What is Decarboxylation?

Decarboxylation is the process of removing a carboxyl group from the THC-acid chain. When exposed to heat, THCA releases carbon dioxide and converts it into THC. 

When we say heat, we mean heat from combusting or vaping cannabis. 

Decarboxylation isn’t only a process done for cannabis. Decarboxylation can occur in nature as well, as long as the compound in question contains a carboxyl group. It’s only relevant in cannabis because, without this process, there’ll be no way to get high off of weed!

Why Is Decarboxylation Important?

Decarboxylation is an essential step in enjoying cannabis. 

As we’ve mentioned before, cannabis only contains trace amounts of actual THC, the psychoactive compound that gets us high. When weed is cured and dried, some of the THCA is converted into THC, but this won’t be enough to induce any real effects.

The majority of the conversion process takes place when it’s combusted, vaped, or baked! 

Whether it’s through a joint, a bong, or an oven, weed needs some form of heat in order to get us high. This is the reason why we can’t just dip weed nugs into chocolate and call it a day. 

To infuse edibles with psychoactive effects, the starting flower itself has to be decarbed, usually in a low-temperature oven over an extended period of time. If you have a dry herb vaporizer, your already-vaped-bud (AVB) will have already been decarboxylated. 

Crucial for Consuming Cannabis

Who would’ve thought that one little carboxyl group could prove to be so much trouble? Fortunately, we were lucky enough to figure out why and how weed needed to be decarboxylated in order to enjoy it. 

If the topic of eating raw weed ever comes up during a roto talk, you can now educate your friends on the topic of decarboxylation and why it’s so important.

Happy trails!


Leave a Reply