young-billy

Shakespeare’s brush with weed

What is that Bard talking about in this marijuana sonnet? Well in this fair sonnet, to put it too simply, Will is telling his Love that he just can’t seem to move on to new literary explorations, can’t change his style, and why.  His love compels him to write only of love…

SONNET 76 by William Shakespeare

Why is my verse so barren of new pride?
So far from variation or quick change?
Why with the time do I not glance aside
To new-found methods and to compounds strange?
Why write I still all one, ever the same,
And keep invention in a noted weed,
That every word doth almost tell my name,
Showing their birth and where they did proceed?
O, know, sweet love, I always write of you,
And you and love are still my argument;
So all my best is dressing old words new,
Spending again what is already spent:
For as the sun is daily new and old,
So is my love still telling what is told.

What is that Bard talking about in this marijuana sonnet? Well in this fair sonnet, to put it too simply, Will is telling his Love that he just can’t seem to move on to new literary explorations, can’t change his style, and why.  His love compels him to write only of love…

All right, another sweet sonnet, but “compounds strange” and “invention in a noted weed”? Shakespeare buffs and weed historians have wondered if these could be references to  Shakespearean drug use. And  in the service of creative writing at that!

In 2001,the South African Journal of Science, a serious Journal published by the Academy of Science of South Africa, was given the opportunity to do chemical analysis on some 17th century clay pipe stems from the town of Stratford-on-Avon, Shakespeare’s hometown. The analysis found traces of cocaine, in addition to resins of myristic acid, a hallucinogen derived from plants such as nutmeg and cannabis, as well as tobacco and camphor. Of course, there is no actual evidence that the pipes belonged to William himself, but  they do indicate the common use of marijuana and cocaine in his time and place. Hemp had been a major crop in England from 400 C.E., and served for textiles, Ship-sails, rope and other products. But this was evidence that the Englishman had also been smoking Cannabis!

Upon publishing, the study aroused ire and debate in the already stormy world of Shakespearean scholarship. Some scholars struck back hard at the study, interpreting it as another attack on Shakespeare’s reputation, suggesting that his genius was a result and product of his drug use. Others noted the long mystic and literary tradition of substances in English literature, notably Byron, and of course, the drug-fueled and inspired American Beat writers.

All things considered, there have been many, many Humans who have indulged and explored using Weed and other Drugs, but how many Bards are there? Perhaps Will Shakespeare loved to fire up a pipe, to help his mind roam and wander, invite the muse in, but his genius was his alone, not an inheritance he received from a substance.

Marijuana can be a gift and inspiration, a key to inner worlds of the mind and spirit, but ultimately, the creative works of a person are the fruit of  his or her study, desire, and hard work.

by Suzanna Mountain

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Honey dripping from a wooden honey dipper isolated on white back

Hash Oil: Fun, Explosions and Legality

Hash oil is a viscous and resinous cannabinoid extract also known as shatter, honey oil, sativa BHO (butane hash oil) and crumble.  It is very high in THC and the most potent of all cannabis extracts.  It’s comprised of highly psychedelic essential oils and other intoxicating compounds.

The most common method of production is a form of solvent extraction using butane.  Butane is a highly volatile solvent with a boiling point of −1 °C.  Cannabis matter is placed in a tube and butane is passed through it.  In the best case scenario, the butane passes through the tube and the psychoactive crystals and resins are dissolved into the butane which is carried into a glass container.  Most of the butane boils off in the process, but a small amount of butane is left in the resin and must be purged.  Butane is very toxic when smoked.  The quality of the purge will affect the hash oil characteristics, making it crumbly or waxy.  It is imperative that the solvent used is extremely pure, as any additives could make the hash oil toxic.

So, as we said, the best case scenario is potent psychedelic hash oil from high grade marijuana.  The worst case scenario is that you blow up your house.  Remember, we are talking about amateurs doing chemistry experiments in their basements with a little weed and some highly volatile materials.  As the butane fuel is pumped through the marijuana containing tube, butane vapors can fill the room.  Those butane vapors can easily ignite, engulfing entire homes in rolling balls of flame, injuring many.   Home hash oil extraction has illegal in California and other states might soon follow suit.  Most explosion incidents have taken place in states where marijuana is legal, calling on lawmakers to address hash oil extraction specifically.

Even though it is dangerous, making home hash oil production illegal is in violation of certain legalization laws.  A constitutional amendment made in 2012 which makes cannabis legal to grow and process actually protects Colorado residents rights to make butane hash oil.  As more and more people are sent to the hospital, lawmakers are looking for creative solutions to the problem.  It should be noted that there are safer ways to produce hash oil, and some Colorado residents are insisting on their right to safe production.

The year 2013 saw 12 butane explosions in Colorado, and in 2014 the number of explosions increased to 32.  In short, something must be done to ensure that hash oil is being produced in the safest way possible.

By Suzanna Mountain

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joint

Breathe Easy Marijuana Smokers, Your Lungs are Doing Just Fine!

Long term study finds that Cannabis smokers who smoke one joint a day for twenty years showed absolutely no decrease in lung function!  Hooray!  For health conscious puffers who worried about whether smoking marijuana was analogous to tobacco smoking in terms of the effect it has on lung function, the time has come to rejoice.  It can be difficult to wrap your head around, but smoking certain herbs in moderation, including mullein and marijuana, can actually have a positive and  cleansing effect on the pulmonary system.

The journal Annals of the American Thoracic Society published a study compiled by researchers at Emory University which sought to find out if moderate marijuana smokers suffered from a decrease in lung function over a long period of time.  The study focused on adults between the ages of 18 and 59.  Cannabis smokers who inhaled more than one joint a day reported a slight increase in frequency of bronchitis like symptoms, but even they did not exhibit adverse effects on pulmonary function.  Additional research shows that those who frequently consume marijuana through vaporizers do not experience frequent symptoms of bronchitis.

A similar study was published in the Journal of the American Medical Association.  While their study was less lengthy, seven years in total, they came to the same conclusion; moderate weed smoking doesn’t cause emphysema, it doesn’t cause cancer, it doesn’t even cause a little wheezing.

An additional study published in Annals of the American Thoracic Society in 2013 found that low to moderate marijuana smoking posed little to no risk of pulmonary or any upper airway cancers.  It is not even comparable to tobacco use which proves time and time again to be harmful to the lungs and, some would argue, the entire body.  Donald P. Tashkin, MD, a professor at the Pulmonary Function Laboratory  at the University of California authored the paper.  He claims that the study is the most comprehensive and authoritative study ever done on habitual marijuana use and lung function.  He claims that, at worst, excessive marijuana smoking can lead to bronchitis.  It is notable that marijuana does not increase the risk for any other lung disorders.

“Cannabis smoking is not equivalent to tobacco smoking in terms of respiratory risk.  Cannabis smoking does not seem to increase risk of chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) or airway cancers. In fact, there is even a suggestion that at low doses cannabis may be protective for both conditions. This conclusion will affect the way health professionals interact with patients, parents with teenagers, and policy makers with their constituents. Efforts to develop cleaner cannabinoid delivery systems can and should continue, but at least for now, [those] who smoke small amounts of cannabis for medical or recreational purposes can breathe a little bit easier.”  said Dr. Mark Ware in his commentary on the study.

by Suzanna Mountain

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2chainz

Worst Marijuana Interview of the Year on HLN

Disgruntled talking head and anti marijuana spokeswoman, Nancy Grace, takes on rap star and legalization activist, 2 Chainz.  Watching these two illogical incomprehensible Georgian natives try to navigate a conversation on marijuana on national television was like trying to effectively mediate between two toddlers arguing over who is better, Elsa or Anna.  Neither of them were quite able to articulate there point.  But you could sum it up as follows;

Nancy Grace is certain that if marijuana were legalized that toddlers nationwide would be subjection to forcible marijuana use by their dangerous pot smoking parents.  Her proof of this is that on several occasions, pot smoking parents have been caught subjecting their children to such abuse.  The not so subtle undertones of her argument are also that it is, of course, people of 2 Chainz caliber who would advocate such a dangerous drug.  You know, black, misogynistic, fowl mouthed rappers are exactly the type to want to see weed legalized.  Point taken, Nancy.

2 Chainz argument was that the people who abuse their children with marijuana are doing so because they are abusive people and not because they are under the influence of marijuana.  He argues that people who would do such a thing were very likely under the influence of alcohol or crack, drugs that he does not condone.  2 Chainz argument was rational and sophisticated. He just lacked the debate skills to deliver his argument with proper timing and clarity to really drive the point home, allowing Nancy veer from the point time and time again.

Nancy Graces’ number one tactic is fear mongering.  And not even high-end fear mongering.  More like refer madness, crazy ranting lady who won’t listen to statistical evidence fear mongering.  Despite all research proving her wrong, she continues to warn Colorado residents of the inevitable rise in crime that is bound to occur when the whole state gets high.  He goes on to explain how legalizing marijuana could reduce overcrowding in prisons and save valuable tax payers money and plenty of other valid arguments which she simply can’t hear.

The highlight of the entire unbearable interview was, without question, when Nancy warns 2 Chainz that if marijuana is legalized for recreational use, anybody could get their hands on it.  Without batting an eyelid, 2 Chainz tells her “Umm, I’m not sure if you know but everybody has the ability to get their hands on pot right now, whether it’s legal or not”.

By Suzanna Mountain

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breastfeeding

Marijuana and Breastfeeding

Marijuana, Breastfeeding, and Lots of Blah Blah Blah From Medical “Experts”

After reading loads of ridiculous non scientific blah blah blah on the internet about marijuana use in breastfeeding mothers, I feel compelled to begin this post by introducing myself.  I am not a scientist.  I have not conducted any long term double blind studies.  One skill that an undergraduate degree in science has afforded me is the ability to see through the science jargon smoke screen.

My singular conclusion from a review of the literature is this – we just don’t know yet what/if a breastfeeding marijuana using mama will bequeath to her offspring in terms of developmental damage.

Fact:  THC is stored in fat.  It builds up in fat stores in the mother which are used to produce breast milk.  The THC does transfer from mother to baby and can be found in urine and feces of the breastfeeding baby.  In monkeys given *large* quantities of THC 5 times a week, .2% was found in their breast milk.

Pseudo medical bloggers love to note this fact as proof that mothers who chose to puff while nursing are with certainty causing harm to their babies.  Because marijuana is a drug of course.  However, it has not been found that these levels of THC have any impact on the child.  It has not been found that trace levels of THC in breast milk are finding a home in the highly underdeveloped endocannabinoid system in the babies brain.  It has not been found that THC causes damage of any kind, even if it is present.  And, no one mentioned how THC compares to other, highly endorsed, fat soluble medicines (or non medical molecules  i.e. legal pesticides) in terms of maternal use and baby development.  In short, the knowledge that a small percentage THC does transfer from mother to baby does not necessarily mean that it causes harm to baby.  Furthermore, majority of the studies that have been conducted have not shown any delay in babies whose mothers habitually used marijuana while breastfeeding.

Myth: Babies of mothers who use marijuana have an increased rate of SIDS.

Mothers who *smoke* marijuana are raising the risk that their babies die from SIDS.  Using marijuana in other forms, edible, vapor and so on have zero link with an increased risk of SIDS.  The risk of SIDS is increased when either parent smokes anything.  Even if the parent does not smoke in the child’s presence, harmful carcinogens leach from the parents clothing.

Unfounded Hypothesis: “There is also some concern that smoking marijuana can lower women’s levels of prolactin, the hormone needed for breast-milk production, Lasley said.”

After reading this completely ridiculous claim I looked into it and, as a matter of fact, all current evidence points to the opposite phenomenon of breast milk over production for marijuana using moms.

No one is fact checking the internet, people, any one can say whatever they want to say.  Read critically.  Beware of pseudo science.  Always question unsubstantiated claims.  Know the general attitude of the author and look for bias.  At this point there is insufficient evidence to support the claim that marijuana should not be used by breastfeeding mothers.  Everyone must do their own risk benefit analysis and proceed with caution and care.  And finally, it would be wise for cannabis loving breast feeders to consume their marijuana via food or vapor and avoid exposing their babies to smoke, even if indirectly.  Happy researching :)

by Suzanna Mountain

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hemp-nettle-basketsm

A Beginners Guide to Cannabis sativa Sub Species

Marijuana, or now that we’re talking science, Cannabis sativa, is an entirely edible member of the plant family Cannabaceae.  The leaves and flowers can be eaten fresh or cooked.  Highly nutritious oils can be extracted from marijuana seeds.  Even the stalk is edible, although it can be argued that it is best used for fiber production.  A smart plant for civilization to invest its resources in.

Cannabis sativa is a species comprised of three distinct sub species.  So distinct that there is even some debate on whether they constitute their own individual species.

A brief review of the sub species:

Ruderalis

Ruderalis is the sub species commonly referred to as hemp.  The hemp plant contains such a small quantity of the psychoactive molecule, THC, that it is not useful as an intoxicant.  Despite hemps’ status as a non-drug plant, it is still not legal for growth in all states.   Hemp can be used for a wildly diverse amount of products including oil, resin, paper, cloth, pulp and even fuel.

Indica

The indica variety of marijuana is a short, stocky plant producing its own unique high.  Indica can induce deep relaxation.  It is known to induce a mainly body-high and makes many people sleepy. Medically, Indica is most effective in providing pain relief, treating sleep disorders and alleviating anxiety.  Indica makes for nice indoor plants due to their short and wide stature.  They imbue a lovely sweet and sour aroma which can be found in popular strains such as Kush and Northern Lights.  Indica strains for the most part contain a higher concentration and variety of cannabinoids than sativa.

Sativa

Sativa is by far the most preferred strain of marijuana overall.  It is a tall and slender plant which lends itself nicely to outdoor growth.  There are strains of sativa which stand at nearly eight meters tall.  The sativa high tends to be energetic and uplifting, lending itself nicely to creative pursuits.  Medically, it is most commonly applied to physiological ailments such as depression.  Sativa is a lovely choice for the morning and evening smoker for it’s somewhat stimulating effects.

Of course, trying to strictly categorize the natural world is an exercise in futility.  Many of the most popular marijuana strains are sativa/indica hybrids.  Many indica strains do produce a cerebral high and many sativa strains produce a body high.  The above is a guide to get a sense of the general traits of the different sub-species of weed.

For a detailed description of different strains and their particular effects see www.weedsta.com

by Suzanna Mountain

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Koala munching eucalyptus leaves

Do animals consume cannabis ?

 

We weed smoking humans have lots in common with the rest of our mammal family.  Two eyes, two ears, a nose, reproductive organs and a penchant for getting high among other things.  We tend to think that humans are different than the rest of the animal kingdom in that we are seemingly alone in our desire to partake in activities that don’t directly relate to fitness and survival.  For humans, sacred intoxication of marijuana and other plants seems as important to our existence as sex and food.  Careful observation of a small number of animals shows that sometimes, they like to party too.

Why do humans like to get high?  Use of cannabis, opium, mushrooms, peyote and so many more psychotropic plants and fungi have been documented historically and anthropologically in the most ancient cultures.    It appears that when humans use mind altering substances, the goal is usually directly related to the experience of mind expansion.  Are cannabinoid munching pigs also looking to get high, or do these psychotropic plants provide some sort of survivalist edge?

Jaguars and DMT

Native tribes in the Amazon engage in the ritualistic use of the ayahuasca vine as a sacred rite.  Jaguars have been known to ingest this vine with relative frequency.  When ingested in large amounts, ayahuasca may induce vomiting.  It is likely that when jaguars binge on the Amazonian plant, it is for the purpose of inducing vomiting and purging themselves of parasites or other poisons.  However, it has been documented that jaguars also ingest the DMT containing plant and then roll around on the ground in ecstasy for the duration of their psychedelic experience.  It has also been theorized that in certain doses ayahuasca enhances the jaguars ability to hunt due to heightened sensory perception.

Pigs and Cannabinoids

Cannabis contains many molecules that effect our bodies, the most famous of which is THC.  THC is the part of marijuana that gets you high.  Humans endogenously produce a molecule known as anandamide which is structurally related to THC and therefore has a nearly identical effect on the brain.  Anandamides, and other cannabinoids, are found throughout the natural world.   Lucky for pigs, one of those places is their favorite nosh, Tuber melanosporum.  Also known as black truffles, these cannabinoid containing fungi live underground and are much sought after delicacy for swine and humans alike.  An article in the science journal Phytochemistry recently pondered our split hoofed friends interest the mushroom.  Their conclusion is that it is indeed very likely that pigs are interested in getting high.

The list of ecstasy seeking animals goes on and on, from opium popping wallabies to Amanita muscaria munching reindeer.  This information can reframe the way we view our own relationship to cannabis.  We can extrapolate from the context of the living world, that expanding our minds and feeling high may very well be an intrinsic part of nature.  Potheads are not the exception, we are merely tuned into our natural instincts, embodying the very acting of being a living creature.  So put that in your pipe and smoke it.

 

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Medinet Habu - Temple

Ancient Medicine; Cannabis and Egypt

From Bhang in India to Kaneh Bosem in the Bible, the ancient use of Cannabis for sacred, medical and recreational purposes is well documented.  The Egyptians practiced the most advanced medical system in the ancient world, complete with written medical guides. Hemp pollen has been found in mummies and soil samples, along with other sacred intoxicating herbs.  While still subject to some debate amongst archeologists, cannabis pollen has also been found in mummies.  We should count ourselves lucky that in addition to physical evidence, the Egyptians left behind a written legacy.  Ancient Egyptian texts used a hieroglyph known as the “shemshemet” to depict marijuana.  It is likely that cannabis is one of the first plants ever cultivated, along with wheat and other staple grains.

Medical texts hailing from Egypt provide us with a glimpse of weed in the ancient world.  Interestingly, the primary use of ganja amongst the ancient Egyptians was gynecological.  One unconventional example comes from the Ebers Papyrus, one of the most ancient and important papyri describing herbal medical practices, which dates back to 1550 B.C.  This document instructs women to apply a mixture of ground cannabis and honey to the vagina while in labor.  It claims that such a mixture which aid in contractions and ease child birth.

Despite ample written evidence, the persistent use of cannabis in ancient Eygpt is up for debate.  The plant mysteriously disappears from written texts for large periods of time.  It is not unlikely that there were weed famines.  Possibly in times of scarcity, limited resources were funneled into food and not medicine.   It is possible that ancient Egypt had its share of medical fads and taboos. Or, another likely scenario is that, over time much written text has been destroyed or stolen.  Texts that would provide us with many answers may yet be uncovered!

As Egyptian culture gave way to Arab culture, the medical use of cannabis was incorporated in varying forms.  While Shaaria law strictly prohibits the use of intoxicants, hashish made its way through the rafters and is common in Muslim countries up to today.  Ninth and Tenth Century Islamic medical texts refer to Marijuana as “hashish”, “the royal grain” and “shadanaj”.  Modern Egyptian universities continue to research the medical uses of this sacred and ancient plant, upholding a long tradition of the land they inhabit.

For those of us who grew up feeling like we were the generation that discovered weed, this kind of information is warmly validating.  Just as our fathers did, and their fathers before them, let us spark this one for healing.

By Suzanna Mountain

 

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marijuana_woman_man

Medical Marijuana as Preventative Medicine

Research has proven again and again that cannabis can be used to treat a wide array of medical conditions from loss of appetite to cancer.  Due to the compatibility between the endocannabinoid system and phytocannabinoids found in marijuana, we are able to trigger a shift towards homeostasis in nearly every physiological system in the body with an occasional (or not so occasional!) toke. The endocannabinoid system is even responsible for many functions relating to fertility and menstruation.  Embryos would not successfully implant in the uterine lining were it not for our tiny weed-related friends, nor would babies be able to nurse.

An absolutely mind bending fact is that phytocannabinoids offer the mother plant something similar to what our endocannabinoids offer us.  Phytocannabinoids are responsible for the overall health and homeostasis of the marijuana plant.    People and ganja have a lot in common after all!

So, if our cannabinoid systems are keeping us whole and healthy through general maintenance, would enhancing the cannabinoid system essentially prevent disease?  Some scientists think so.  And here is why….

Take a moment and recall your first time ever smoking weed.  Remember the excitement the anticipation.  Your more knowledgeable friends pack the bowl, roll the blunt, slice the brownie and you pray that you won’t look like a fool when you inevitably cough after your first ever inhale.  And then you wait… and wait… and wait… to feel high, but you don’t really get high.  You might get a little hungry and buy some french fries at a McDonalds for the first time in your life, but it’s not what you had in mind.  Nonetheless you believe the hype and you try again, and again.  And eventually, the third or fourth time you blaze, YOU GET HIGH!  Believe it or not this parable illustrates a scientific principle you need necessary to understanding medical marijuana as preventative medicine, so bear with me.

The more cannabinoids your body is exposed to, whether from inside your body or from cannabis, the more vast your bodies endocannabinoid system becomes.  Smoking weed stimulates expansion and sensitivity of the ECS.  Those first few joints you smoked in your youth triggered the development of the cannabinoid receptors that ultimately made you more sensitive to psychotropic cannabinoids such as THC and enabled you to get high!  In other words, up to a certain thresh hold, the more you smoke, the higher you get.  Now replace “getting high” with “curing disease”, another equally valid function of human/cannabis relations.  If I maintain stable intake of marijuana, wouldn’t that rev up my bodies ECS, and therefore be curing diseases before we are even aware that they have begun?  Preliminary research indicates that this is indeed the case.

Doctors who scoff at herbal medicine will gladly tell you that this function can probably be accomplished by one of the many synthetic cannabinoids produced in a lab, again denying the power of consuming marijuana in its whole natural form.  But consider that marijuana produces a synergistic masterpiece of hundreds of cannabinoids working together.

Smoke up, friends, and let the healing begin!

by Suzanna Mountain

 

 

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cupcakes

Cannabis Baking Basics; Let’s Get Baked!

by Suzanna Mountain

Take out your measuring cups cannabis weed lovers, it’s time to give “wake and bake” a whole new meaning.  For many ganja connoisseurs edibles are the preferred method of getting high because it is hands down the healthiest.  Smoking weed compromises the health of your lungs (and the rest of your body!) while eating weed, if mixed with healthy ingredients, can only contribute to your overall health.  With trendy gourmet marijuana edibles on the rise, it’s a good idea to master the basic ingredients you’ll need to get started.  With these starter ingredients on hand, you’ll be flipping cannabis pancakes and munching on stoner scones in no time.

When THC is processed by the liver, as it is when you eat it, the result is about 4 times the potency of that same quantity of herb when smoked.  Eat with care and caution.  Additionally, note that when consumed, cannabis takes anywhere from 30 – 120 minutes to take full effect.  If you aren’t baked at 45 minutes… just wait longer.

Cannabis Flour

Cannabis flour, despite its fancy name is nothing more than ground marijuana.  You can use buds and leafs, but it is best to remove all stems and seeds before grinding.   Once you have isolated your flours and leaves go ahead and grind in your preferred method.  For bigger batches consider using a large good processor such as a Cuisinart.  For mini batches you can even use a small coffee grinder (just make sure it is cleaned well from coffee remnants).

Ganja flour is not meant to replace regular flour in recipes in a one to one ratio so make sure to follow a recipe intended for ganja flour until you get the hang of it and can alter your favorite recipes on your own.

Cannabis Butter

what you need:

  • 1 pound of butter (450 g)
  • 1 cup cannabis flour
  • a saucepan half filled with water
  • some cheese cloth

Set water to boil in the sauce pan.  Then stir the butter into the boiling water until fully melted.  Then add 1 cup cannabis flour to the pot and let the mixture boil on low for about 30 minutes.  Make sure to stir occasionally otherwise you will get a yucky mess at the bottom.

Next separate the liquids from the solids by pouring the mixture through cheese cloth (or if you don’t have any, stockings will do).  Strain the infused butter (which will currently be made up of liquefied THC butter and water) directly into a mixing bowl and discard the solids that remain in the cheese cloth.  Although it still looks like weed, all of the good stuff has been extracted.

Let the mixture cool for a while on the counter and then pour into a baking dish and place in the fridge.  The infused butter will float to the top and solidify and the water will remain on the bottom.

When fully cooled and separated, scoop off the THC butter and discard the water.

Congratulations! Bake and enjoy!

Cannabis Oil

The simplest of all extractions.  Simply place your favorite buds into a fine olive oil at a 1 to 1 ratio.  For example 28 oz of oil and 28 oz of weed.   Let them sit together for about a week.  Bon Appétit!

 

Potency Chart – 1 gram of weed = 1 oz. ganja olive oil = 1 spoonful of cannabutter

 

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