For medical and recreational cannabis consumers, edibles continue to be a go-to method for ingesting weed. Edibles are convenient, discreet, and typically offer a longer, more intense effect than simply smoking up. Then again, crafting your own edibles takes time and skill. So, many people wonder whether there’s a shortcut: can’t you just eat raw weed?
The short answer is yes. You can totally pop a fresh bud into your mouth and chow down. But if you want to eat raw weed because you want to get high, you’re likely to walk away disappointed.
Fortunately, there are plenty of other benefits, besides getting stoned, to eating fresh herb. And those benefits hinge on the unique way your digestive system processes cannabis. So let’s dispel some myths and drop some knowledge. This is really what happens when you eat raw weed.
Will You Get High When You Eat Raw Weed?
For most folks, the appealing thing about cannabis edibles is that they provide a smoke-free way to get high. But your local dispensary isn’t selling you flower to eat. It’s selling you flower to smoke. The edibles they sell you to eat are instead a preparation of cannabis that has activated the plant’s cannabinoids.
That preparation process involves a chemical reaction called “decarboxylation”. Essentially, decarbing converts the otherwise “inert” cannabinoids from their inactive state to their active form. So THCA, the inactive form of the psychoactive cannabinoid in weed, gets converted to THC, which will get you high. The same goes for CBD. At first, it’s CBDA. Then, the decarbing process turns it into active CBD.
Decarbing requires heat, which is why you put fire to your fresh flower when you smoke it. But the human digestive system doesn’t provide enough heat to decarboxylate the cannabis you eat, which is why edibles chefs have to do it beforehand.
The bottom line is this. When you eat raw weed, which hasn’t been decarbed, you’re consuming cannabinoids in a form your body can’t do anything with. So no, you won’t get high.
There’s some evidence that the drying and curing process converts some of the THCA to THC. But you’d have to eat roughly eight times more raw weed to get the same effect. And no one in their right mind is going to do that to get stoned!
Here’s What Really Happens When You Eat Raw Weed
If you’ve ever tried edibles before, you probably know that the effect lasts longer and can be way more intense than just smoking flower. But it also takes longer to kick in. But why is that?
The longer, more potent effect of eating decarbed cannabis is a result of they way your digestive system handles the cannabinoids.
When you smoke weed, the THC and other important cannabinoids enter your bloodstream almost immediately through the lungs. But when those cannabinoids end up in your stomach, there’s a bit of a delay. Edibles users know that the effects can take anywhere from 45 minutes to 2 hours to kick in.
So what’s going on during that time? First, the THC gets separated from the other ingredients in the edible by your stomach. Next, the THC is absorbed through the lining of your small intestine, but not into your bloodstream. The next step is actually the liver, where your metabolism breaks it down and feeds it into your blood. Interestingly, this pathway is very similar to the way alcohol makes us drunk.
But the liver does something unique to the THC it receives. The liver actually converts the decarbed THC into an even more potent version, 11-OH-THC.
According to a study in the Therapeutic Advancements in Psychopharmacology, 11-OH-THC is hyper-potent. And it effects the brain in stronger ways than ordinary THC. There’s also more of it. More power in a larger quantity means extremely intense psychoactive results. No wonder edibles can be so strong!
If You Eat Raw Weed, You’re Eating a Nutritional Powerhouse
But what about eating your weed raw? We already covered why it won’t get you high. But are there any good reasons that make biting into a raw bud worth it?
Many medical marijuana practitioners and patients swear by the nutritional and therapeutic benefits of eating your weed raw. Unfortunately, we only have their stories, and not any peer-reviewed research, to verify their claims.
Still, proponents of eating raw cannabis point to the many nutritional benefits packed into the plant. According to their logic, eating raw cannabis flower has all the nutrition of hemp, plus some.
One cannabis researcher, Dr. William Courtney, who informally studied the effects of consuming raw cannabis, says it provides the same therapeutic effects as smoking the plant. Courtney told Fox News that eating raw weed provides the “whole profile of the plant.” Heating or burning the plant, he said, could inhibit that medicinal potential.
Want To Eat Raw Weed? Juicing Is Your Best Bet
It’s important to point out that eating raw weed has some downsides. Many folks report getting serious stomach aches or feeling nauseous after chomping down on some leafy green.
There could be two reasons for this. In the first place, the plant material of raw cannabis is just hard for your body to digest. That’s why edibles don’t just feed you decarbed cannabis, but instead use an alcohol or fat to bond to the cannabinoids and remove the plant material.
A second reason for stomach aches could be the pesticides and fungicides commercial growers use on their crops to keep pests away. Eating pesticide is definitely going to make you feel ill.
That’s why juicing raw cannabis has become so popular. Juicing cannabis allows consumers to obtain the health benefits of THC without the psychoactive effects.