Some people swear by it. Here’s why.
Photographer: Trevor Hagan/Bloomberg via Getty Images
Marijuana’s heady effects—the consciousness alteration that we know and love—require that the THC be activated by decarboxylation. (Before THC is activated, it is technically THCA, that is, THC acid.) While some tiny amount of decarboxylation can occur naturally, normally it’s not enough to get you high. You’d have to eat a shit-ton of raw weed to feel it. But that doesn’t mean eating raw weed is a waste of time.
While the cannabinoids won’t get you stoned in their raw form, they can still be absorbed and utilized. That’s why things like marijuana juicing and cannabis smoothies—which contain leaves and, sometimes, even flowers of the plant—are becoming increasingly popular among health advocates.
Raw weed means the freshly harvested flowers and leaves of marijuana plants before they are dried and cured. While it’s also possible to eat dried marijuana, some minor decarboxylation usually occurs in drying, so there’s a slightly greater possibility of getting high. (If your aim is just to get high by eating raw weed, though, you can do so much more efficiently by decarbing the weed first; it’s easy.)
Since raw weed isn’t psychoactive, and therefore isn’t really a recreational substance, it is consumed for its health benefits. Cannabinoid experts like Dr. William Courtney believe juicing raw cannabis should be a part of everyone’s diet. Marijuana, these advocates believe, should be treated more like a vegetable than a medicine or a drug.
Raw weed, when eaten, can be hard for your body to absorb and process, just like plenty of other green leafy plants. That’s why some people may get an upset stomach after eating it. If your stomach is sensitive to such things, it’s just something you should be aware of.
Cannabis has more than 400 different chemical compounds in it, and it just so happens that includes many beneficial vitamins, essential oils and cannabinoids (the latter in their acid form, as in THCA, CBDA, etc.). Those cannabinoid acids are very important for basic cell function.
Heating or smoking marijuana turns those acids into their decarboxylated forms, known as “decarbing.” While active THC and CBD have plenty of benefits, one drawback is that you can’t really megadose on activated THC without seriously impacting your consciousness and functionality.
That’s not a limiting factor with raw THCA—so you can do markedly bigger amounts for cannabinoid supplementation.
“If you do heat it, then your dose is around 10 mg,” Courtney explained. “And if you don’t heat it, if it’s raw, then your dose is around 1,000-2000 mg.” Your body is able to process those amounts of THCA and CBDA, problem free. It converts those acids into the nutrients it needs.
Including a bit of fat with the meal or smoothie helps with cannabinoid absorption.
As great as the cannabinoid acids are, they aren’t the only reason to eat raw weed.
If you put raw marijuana into a blender for a smoothie rather than just juicing it, you get the added benefit of dietary fiber. Like all green leafy plants, cannabis has lots of the fiber you need for a healthy diet.
The fiber in marijuana helps you maintain proper digestion. It also helps keep your gut happy by maintaining a healthy microbial community in your digestive tract.
It makes total sense that cannabis contains a variety of vitamins and minerals like other green leafy plants. We’re talking about nutritional building blocks including folate, iron, calcium, vitamin C, and vitamin K.
Raw weed also contains lots of healthy antioxidants, including the cannabinoids themselves. Both CBD and THC have been shown to have antioxidant properties. This means they help protect the body from stress damage. Antioxidants also help fight the effects of aging.
Cannabis that has purple, blue, or deep red coloration in the leaves and flowers has lots of healthy flavonoid compounds called anthocyanins. These same compounds give the color to other foods like blackberries, eggplants, red raspberries, and plums. Anthocyanins, like cannabinoids, have antioxidant properties. They also help protect against hormone-related diseases, regulate immune response, and may even help vision.
Those wonderful-smelling terpenes associated with marijuana are also at their strongest in raw weed. These aroma molecules are thought to have sleep-inducing and calm-inducing properties, and work with the cannabinoid acids in a synergistic fashion. Many medical marijuana patients with painful conditions like fibromyalgia and arthritis even report that using raw cannabis through juicing or smoothies helps with pain management.