Chasing the Green Dragon: Making Cannabis Tincture Easy as 1-2-3
All aboard the green dragon express! It may be the Year of the Monkey according to the Chinese zodiac, but the Green Dragon just might steal the limelight. You may recognize this time-honored medical miracle by its more common name, cannabis tincture.
Once a common inhabitant of American medicine chests, cannabis tincture went into hiatus when Prohibition 2 took hold in 1937. One form of cannabis tincture making a big-time comeback is Big Pharma brainchild Sativex (nabiximols) from GW Pharmaceuticals. Sativex is essentially pure THC (tetrahydrocannabinol), as an oral mist for patients with multiple sclerosis, neuropathic pain, muscle spasticity, overactive bladder, and various other symptoms. The medicine was scientifically tested in clinical trials and approved in the U.S. and UK.
United we stand
Some scientists, however—including those who discovered THC and CBD—do not favor single-cannabinoid drugs. They point to the “entourage effect” of full-spectrum cannabis extract being medically superior to preparations like Sativex. Their position is that all the individual compounds in the plant work together in ensemble fashion to complement and enhance one another’s actions and effects.
GW Pharmaceuticals, a sister company of Bayer, currently has two other cannabis-derived tincture medications in the works, for epilepsy and cancer, that are set to make a commercial debut in late 2016. Neither of them contains the complete profile of cannabinoids found in the natural whole-plant extract.
No muss, no fuss—put down that pantyhose
Great news! You can make full-spectrum cannabis tinctures in your own kitchen with almost no work. Formerly, this job was a messy, smelly, tedious, time-consuming, and dangerous chemistry experiment involving flammable liquids and a stovetop burner (not a great combination). In 2012 it became vastly simpler with invention of an appliance called the MagicalButter machine.
The general idea behind preparing a tincture involves grinding and soaking high-quality buds in high-proof ethyl alcohol such as Everclear or Bacardi 151. The alcohol dissolves the THC and CBD (cannabidiol), leaving the plant matter behind. You then simply strain your alcohol/bud mixture to remove any debris from your final tincture.
For this alcohol extraction process, what could be easier than a self-contained, push-button device with digital programming that handles everything for you? Just put your herb and alcohol inside the countertop extractor, push a couple of buttons, and save yourself the intense labor that goes into making a tincture caveman-style. (Here’s a video of how easy it is.) It even comes with its own super tough, reusable nylon filter bag. So you can leave the cheese cloth, coffee filters, and pantyhose in the drawer.
“Decarbin’ Marvin” to the rescue
Consuming fresh, raw cannabis or its tincture can’t get you high, because the THC is locked in its “acid” form (cleverly named “THC acid”, or THCA). Fortunately, somewhere along the line a cannabis enthusiast who happened to be a scientist discovered an incredibly simple step called decarboxylation. This process uses heat to create THC from the THCA within the herb. You can decarb your sample before adding it to your MagicalButter machine by baking it for half an hour at 250°F/120°C, generating some kushin’ for the pushin’!
Hence the name
Where does the green in green dragon come from? When soaking your herbal delights, you get a little more than you bargain for: Much of the plant’s chlorophyll seeps through, along with the desired cannabinoids and terpenoids. Chlorophyll has many healthful properties, from potent antioxidant and body deodorant effects to cellular cleansing and appetite suppression. And it gives your tincture its distinctive, deep, dark green color. Often, though not always, the darker the green, the danker the dragon.
OK, it’s done. Now what?
This is the best part. You can do nearly anything with the tincture at this point, from mixing it into a milkshake to adding to any recipe you can think of—and many more recipes that you never would have dreamed of. For maximum potency it can even be reduced by evaporating most of the alcohol, creating MagicalButterOil of Cannabis.
The sublingual method of tincture administration, say, a medicine dropperful held under the tongue, will provide the quickest onset of effects (about 15-30 minutes). You can also throw it straight down the hatch and in 30-90 minutes reap your reward. But where’s the fun in that?
Why not become the Willy Wonka of Weed while remaining in your own kitchen? From gummy creations of every shape and size, along with your choice of funky flavors, you can make your confectionery dreams come true. And it doesn’t stop there: You can create make soups, salad dressings, sauces, an oral mist, cocktails, even edible healing salve. The possibilities are without limits. So be creative, be experimental, and be responsible, because your “canncoction” can be pretty potent!
For more how-to videos, tons of great recipes, and how to get your own Botanical Extractor™ and other fun MagicalButter products, check out MagicalButter.com.
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Garyn Angel is an inventor, entrepreneur, award-winning financial consultant, and CEO of MagicalButter.com, which manufactures the appliance he invented for converting cannabis to edible form. Angel is committed to cannabis law reform and was named to the CNBC NEXT List of global business leaders for his work on legal marijuana. He is also founder of the Cheers to Goodness Foundation, a charity that helps “medical refugees”—veterans and children who need cannabis therapy when traditional treatment options have failed. Angel’s charity helps families relocate to states where cannabis medicine is legally accessible.