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  • Writer's pictureGreen Leaf Medical Marijuana Card Doctors

How to Make a Medical Cannabis Tincture at Home

Cannabis enthusiasts and medical marijuana patients alike will invariably find a range of cannabis tinctures in their local dispensary. However, you may be curious about how to make cannabis tincture at home as a fun and flexible alternative to the established products found in dispensaries.


A cannabis tincture is a concentrated liquid extract made by soaking cannabis plant material in a solvent, typically alcohol or sometimes glycerin or vegetable oil. This process pulls out the desired cannabinoids—such as THC and CBD—from the plant matter and infuses them into the solvent. The resulting liquid is the tincture.


How to Make a Cannabis Tincture Step-by-Step

Making a cannabis tincture at home to treat a qualifying medical condition is a great option for patients in states like Arizona where MMJ is legal. Follow these steps for the perfect cannabis extract:


1. Choose a Strain

Picking a strain for your homemade tinctures is simple as there isn't a wrong strain to choose! When choosing a strain, ask yourself which effects you want your tincture to offer. There are two main choices to make at this point:


CBD or THC Tincture?

The two main cannabinoids found in the cannabis plant are THC and CBD. Choosing strains high in these cannabinoids will offer you the therapeutic effects associated with each one.


THC tinctures will offer the psychoactive effects so often connected with consuming weed. CBD tinctures are another option for therapeutic effects without a head high.


Indica or Sativa?

There are two main classifications of cannabis: indica and sativa. Though the distinctions between the two aren't an exact science, they're generally considered to impart different effects.


Common wisdom associates sativa-dominant strains with uplifting and energizing effects accompanied by a subtle cerebral high. Indica strains tend to offer a body-centered high that's heavy and relaxing.


However, these guidelines don't tell the whole story. A strain's precise cannabinoid and terpene profile will impact its overall effects.


The Bottom Line: Choose a Strain You Love

You'll likely come across many different strains during your journey as an MMJ patient. Different strains offer vastly different effects. The wisest course of action is usually to choose a strain you're already familiar with and enjoy.


Tip: Remember to renew your medical marijuana card to ensure continued access to a wide range of strains at your local dispensary excise tax-free.


2. Decarboxylate Your Cannabis

When you've settled on a strain to infuse, you'll need to decarboxylate ("decarb") it. Decarbing cannabis is the process of applying a gentle source of heat to convert THCA and CBDA, the cannabinoids found in the raw cannabis plant, into the active forms of THC and CBD. You can do this easily at home using an oven or toaster:


  1. Preheat your oven to around 220ºF.

  2. Grind your cannabis. Grind at least enough to fill half an eight-ounce Mason jar (around half an ounce).

  3. Take a baking tray and cover it with parchment paper. Place the ground cannabis on the paper.

  4. Bake for 30 minutes to fully decarb your cannabis flower.

  5. Check your cannabis. It should look dry and lightly toasted.


3. Infuse Your Cannabis Flower

At this point, you must decide if you want to make oil or alcohol tinctures.


How to Make an Alcohol-Based Tincture with Grain Alcohol

  1. Add your decarboxylated cannabis to an eight-ounce Mason jar. Fill it to a quarter or half full.

  2. Choose a high-proof alcohol to cover the cannabis. Spirits like vodka can work, but many prefer neutral-tasting alcohol or food-grade ethanol.

  3. Seal the Mason jar and store it in a dark, cool closet for a minimum of three weeks. Many experts suggest shaking the jar once a day.

  4. When the tincture is ready, strain out the flower but don't press it; you will only squeeze out chlorophyll, not extra THC!


Voilá! You have your own THC or CBD tincture ready for use.


How to Make an Oil-Based Cannabis Tincture

There may be different reasons for wanting to avoid an alcohol-based tincture. Using a neutral oil is a great alternative:


  1. Measure out a portion of decarbed flower and add it to a Crock Pot or another slow cooker with a cup of olive oil, coconut oil, or medium-chain triglyceride (MCT) oil.

  2. Set the heat to "low" and allow the mixture to simmer for two to six hours. Cooking the mixture on a long, low setting tends to produce better results.

  3. Strain the mixture into a jar and store it in a cool, dry place.


How to Consume Cannabis Tincture

Cannabis tincture is typically consumed in two ways: sublingually or as part of a cannabis edible. The way you consume a tincture will significantly change the onset time and how long the effects last. Be aware of this when dosing.


Consuming Cannabis Tincture Sublingually 

Tincture is best administered using a dropper. Squeeze a few drops onto the soft tissue under your tongue and hold the drops there for 30-60 seconds. This allows the tincture to absorb directly into the bloodstream, ensuring a quick onset time and potent results. You can then swallow the rest of the tincture.


Sublingual ingestion can be a diet-friendly way to consume tinctures. Although weed doesn’t have many calories, consuming it as part of a brownie or cookie can have an undesired impact on your waistline! 


Consuming Cannabis Tincture in an Edible

Adding some cannabis tincture to baked goods like cookies or brownies is a delicious way to consume it. Ingesting a tincture means it will be digested and processed in the stomach and liver rather than traveling straight into the bloodstream. This has two main implications:


  • The liver turns THC into a stronger form (page 2 of the linked PDF). This means the effects of infused edibles are generally stronger than those of tinctures consumed sublingually.

  • Tinctures in an edible go through the full digestion process, leading to a much longer onset time.


Tip: You can also use your tincture to make cannabis sugar. The infused sugar can then be used as a base for a range of delicious cannabis-based foods and drinks.


Be Aware of Different Onset Times

The onset time of a cannabis tincture differs depending on the consumption method. While sublingual absorption takes around 15-30 minutes to kick in, feeling the effects of tincture consumed in an edible can take up to two hours.


How to Dose Cannabis Tincture

Working out your ideal dose will be a question of trial and error. Err on the side of caution until you know how potent your tincture is. This is especially true if you’re new to MMJ or if you’re used to smoking or vaping cannabis.


How Much Is the “Correct” Dose?

The correct dose of tincture will be different for every consumer. Start with a small amount and wait to see the results. Remember that the onset time is significantly slower when ingesting cannabis products. 


Research also suggests that lower doses of cannabis may be more effective than higher doses for relieving pain. Don’t expect immediate results and be patient until you know for sure how potent your tincture is. 


How to Store Cannabis Tincture

A tincture should last for months if you store it properly. Keep the tincture in a glass container and store it in a cool, dark place. You could even keep it in your refrigerator. 


Benefits of Cannabis Tincture

Cannabis tincture is a popular choice among MMJ patients as it offers several benefits over other consumption methods:


  • Potent and Concentrated: Tinctures offer a concentrated source of cannabinoids.

  • Versatile Dosing: Tinctures can be easily ingested sublingually for faster absorption, or added to food or drinks for a delayed effect.

  • Long Shelf Life: When stored properly, tinctures have a longer shelf life compared to some other cannabis products.

  • Discretion: Tinctures are typically odorless and discreet, making them easier to consume in public settings where allowed.

  • Dosage Control: Tinctures offer more precise dosing compared to edibles, but it's important to start with a low dose and increase gradually due to their potency.


FAQs

The following are a couple of frequently asked questions about cannabis tinctures:


How Long Do Cannabis Tincture Effects Last?

Cannabis tincture effects tend to last anywhere from two to four hours. This could vary depending on the dose.


What Do I Do If I Don't Feel Effects from a Cannabis Tincture?

Even if you don't feel the effects of a potent tincture, it's best to wait at least 90 minutes before upping your dose. This is because it can sometimes take longer to kick in. Ingesting more cannabis than expected is rarely dangerous, but overconsumption can be unpleasant.


Be particularly wary of overconsumption with your own cannabis tinctures as dosing may not be as precise as when using a professionally-made product.


Experiment with Cannabis Tinctures for a Customized Experience

Making cannabis tinctures at home allows you to get creative and create a personalized product using your favorite strains. It can be a cost-effective and rewarding process for MMJ patients.


Dosing homemade tinctures can be more challenging than carefully labeled, commercially made tinctures. For that reason, always “start low and go slow” for the best results.


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