If you love edibles, you may have been wondering:
“Can you get high from eating raw weed? If not, are there any benefits to it at all?”
The debate over eating raw weed has been going on for years.
In short, yes you can get high from eating raw weed!
But, it is probably the absolute worst way to ingest cannabis if your goal is to get high. You are going to have to use way more weed to experience the same high as opposed to smoking or cooking edibles. You would probably need around an eighth of high-quality weed to feel much of an effect.
Can eating raw cannabis get you high?
To understand why eating raw weed does not get us high, we must first come to terms with what seems an impossible truth: living cannabis plants do not contain the psychoactive compound tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) that pot is famous for.
Living cannabis plants and freshly picked buds are, however, abundant with tetrahydrocannabinolic acid (THCA), which is the non-psychoactive (but possibly therapeutic) cannabinoid which becomes THC when heated via smoking, vaping, or cooking.
When a harvested crop is stored properly, some of the THCA slowly converts into THC, which is why so many growers subject their plants to a curation process rather than selling fresh buds to dispensaries immediately. This process of “activating THC” is known as decarboxylation, and it is essential if you are consuming marijuana to experience its unique properties.
Another reason eating raw weed will not get you high is that THC has to enter your bloodstream to reach its receptors. Marijuana is not easy for our bodies to process, and when we eat raw flower much of the trace amount of THC that enters our stomach is expelled through our digestive system, never to reach the bloodstream.
Benefits of eating raw cannabis
Although you would not get high from eating raw weed, you still may get other health benefits from eating it. A growing number of people claim that eating raw cannabis can be a great way to access the therapeutic and health benefits of cannabinoids without experiencing any of the psychoactive effects.
Research shows that THCA has several benefits that warrant further study. In 2013, researchers determined that cannabinoids including THCA might slow the growth and spread of some cancer cells. Another study in 2012 found that both THC and THCA can act as neuroprotectants that promote brain health. And, research in 2011 found THCA has anti-inflammatory properties.
Fresh cannabis is also rich in terpenes, minor cannabinoids, flavonoids, vitamins, minerals, and antioxidants including omega-3 and omega-6 fatty acids. Raw cannabis is also high in fiber, protein, and amino acids.
Protecting brain cells
One study in the British Journal of Pharmacology demonstrated that THCA might have a protective effect on brain cells.
These findings may be important for experts in neuroinflammatory diseases and neurodegenerative conditions such as Huntington’s disease. THCA may be an interesting therapeutic option in these cases.
Inhibiting tumor necrosis
Another study, this time in the journal International Immunopharmacology, also tested the effects of unheated cannabis extract.
The researchers note that THCA was able to inhibit the tumor necrosis factor-alpha levels in immune cells. Furthermore, this inhibition lasted for a long time.
Providing anti-nausea effects
Researchers are also interested in the possible anti-nausea effect of THCA.
In another study in the British Journal of Pharmacology, researchers explored the anti-nausea effect of THCA in rats. The researchers demonstrated that it was effective in reducing nausea and vomiting.
They suggest that THCA may be a more potent alternative to THC in the treatment of nausea and vomiting. Further studies are necessary to find out whether or not these effects also occur in humans.
Researchers have also demonstrated the anti-nausea and anti-vomiting effects of low doses of cannabidiolic acid. Also, cannabidiolic acid made the antinausea drug ondansetron more effective. Further studies in humans are needed to confirm these results.
Terpenes in raw cannabis
Terpenes are not only responsible for the delicious flavor of certain strains, but they also modulate the cannabis high through the “entourage effect”. Different terpenes interface with different cannabinoids to augment their effects.
Terpenes also produce effects entirely on their own. For example, limonene and myrcene induce a relaxing response that can enhance the feeling of well-being.
Because terpenes are volatile and degrade at high temperatures, you are not able to enjoy nearly as many when you smoke. However, raw cannabis flowers are chock-full of these fascinating molecules. Consuming cannabis raw keeps terpenes in their natural state.
Flavonoids in raw cannabis
Flavonoids usually fly under the radar when it comes to weed-related discussions. Cannabis smokers are often more preoccupied with cannabinoid and terpene profiles. The flavonoids, however, are a significant factor. These diverse phytochemicals are found in a range of superfoods, from kale and broccoli to berries and tea.
Flavonoids play an important role in cannabis plants. These pigments color plant tissue to attract pollinating species, and also to protect plants from UV rays and pathogens. Specific flavonoids found in cannabis include:
- Cannflavin A
- Cannflavin B
These often-overlooked phytochemicals offer an impressive array of potential health benefits, such as:
- Antioxidants effects
- Supports the heart
- Can help clean arteries
This impressive chemical profile shows cannabis is as healthy as any other vegetable, making it a perfect addition to any salad, smoothie, or juice.
Ways to consume raw cannabis
There are a few ways to ingest raw weed. Some are more palatable than others. It is best to try each method to find your preference.
For many people interested in the health benefits of raw cannabis, juicing is the best option. This approach allows you to get all the cannabinoids and other vitamins and minerals contained in the plant without having to process the fibrous plant matter, which can be difficult to digest.
Many people say it also tastes much better, especially when you mix your cannabis juice with other juice. Additionally, if you mix your cannabis juice with other healthy, vitamin-rich fruits or vegetables, you can give yourself a super-charged health drink.
To juice raw cannabis, you will need a juicer and raw, un-decarboxylated weed. Fortunately, you can juice every part of the cannabis plant, buds, leaves, and all. Roughly chop your plant matter and add it in batches to the juicer. From there, add whatever other fruits, vegetables, and leafy greens you would enjoy.
Smoothies provide a tasty and easy way to load up on phytonutrients. Add raw cannabis flower and leaves to your smoothies for a dose of cannabinoid acids and terpenes. Throw in some tropical fruits, berries, and ice for great taste and freshness.
Of course, the other way to consume weed is by eating the leaves and flower as is. This is the least desirable method as the plant materials are fibrous and the leaves can taste bitter. If you decide to go this route, chop up the leaves and flower finely and add them to a salad.
Potential downsides of raw cannabis
Of course, eating almost any food raw comes with an element of risk. When it comes to cannabis, chowing down on raw leaves can expose diners to potentially harmful bacteria—both salmonella and E. coli have been found on cannabis samples.
Some growers also use chemical pesticides on their crops to keep pests at bay. Although effective, these substances can leave a residue behind on the flower and leaves that tastes awful and hurts our bodies.
To make sure you stay safe when consuming raw cannabis, only consume cannabis you know has not been treated with these chemicals. In turn, make sure it has not been grown with the help of potentially harmful products like manure.