What is decarboxylation of cannabis?

Decarboxylation, or “decarbing,” is the process of altering the chemical structure of raw cannabinoids (the acid form) to a neutral cannabinoid form. So, what does this actually mean?

We all know that cannabis contains tetrahydrocannabinol (THC), known as the cannabinoid that gets you “high.” However, this is not entirely true.

One thing that many people don’t realize about THC is that it doesn’t really exist in the flower when you cut it from the cannabis plant. Instead, it is tetrahydrocannabinolic acid (THCA) that’s in the flower. Referred to as the acid form of THC or THC acid, THCA converts to THC through a process called decarboxylation.

THCA needs to be heated up to convert to THC. UV can also convert THCA to THC, but this is less common. If you consume cannabis via lighting a joint, you are burning it, and that turns your THCA into THC. However, that’s a crude way to do it, the conversion is weak, and much of the THCA goes up in smoke. Most decarboxylation for cannabis products tends to use standard heating equipment, like temperature-controlled hotplates and ovens, but there are vaporizers that will not combust your product and keep the temperature lower as well.

Many don’t realize that CBD works in the same way as THC does when it comes to decarboxylation. CBD starts life as CBDA and only converts to CBD after decarboxylation.

The main difference between acid cannabinoids and their neutral forms is an extra COOH group, also known as the carboxyl group, a molecular group consisting of one carbon, two oxygens, and one hydrogen. Decarboxylation occurs when the carboxyl group is shed via high temperature. You can see the carboxyl group in the red square of THCA in the first image, but that carboxyl group leaves (as CO2) to form THC in the second image.

Decarboxylation Temperatures

Recently, there has been more published research looking into optimal decarboxylation temperatures. As we mentioned, smoking can actually cause some of your cannabinoids to be destroyed because it is too hot. One study specifically focuses on CBDA to CBD decarboxylation, while the other tests for multiple different cannabinoids.

These studies found that THCA will decarb faster than CBDA, but they are still fairly close. At 110 degrees Celsius (230 Fahrenheit), THCA tends to fully decarboxylate after about 25 minutes, while CBDA takes slightly longer, around 40 minutes. But you don’t have to worry about THC degrading at that temperature after only 15 extra minutes.

Why does decarboxylation matter?

For those who are looking to get high, the reason for decarbing might be obvious. THCA is actually non-intoxicating and will not get you high, so you need to convert it to THC for the classic effects associated with smoking cannabis.

For other medicinal purposes, you may actually want to keep the acid form. THCA, while it doesn’t get you high, has promise to help with weight loss and insulin sensitivity, while CBDA might be a better anti-convulsive agent and produce better anti-anxiety effects than CBD. CBDA probably even acts more effectively towards serotonin receptors involved in mood and anxiety than CBD. However, CBD and THC have their own therapeutic value as well. Depending on your needs, different combinations might work better or worse for you.

Are All CBD Products Decarbed?

Unless specified as raw or stated as acid forms, all CBD products have been decarboxylated. All the products for sale at TruPotency.com are appropriately labeled. So, make sure always to read labels and check the product information on the website. When a product shows that it has high CBD level and low or no CBDA, then it has been decarbed. Each product goes through rigorous testing to make sure all company claims are valid.