Is There Any Medical Benefit to Eating Cannabis Flower?

Despite the fact that smoking cannabis is illegal in Utah, Beehive Farmacy does sell cannabis flowers. It is intended to be used in a special dry-heating device that heats the plant material to a temperature high enough to release the desired medicines without actually burning the material. At any rate, we are sometimes asked whether there is any medical benefit to eating the flower.

A medical cannabis pharmacist is the most qualified person to answer that question. If it is something you are wondering about, feel free to ask our pharmacist next time you visit either of our Beehive Farmacy locations. In the meantime, we can offer a basic explanation of how THC (the primary cannabinoid in medical cannabis) gets into the system.

One of Many Cannabinoids

THC (tetrahydrocannabinol) is just one of many cannabinoids found in cannabis plants. In its natural state, it is not really THC. It’s actually THCA (tetrahydrocannabinol acid). In addition, THCA has no psychoactive properties in its natural form. It needs to be transformed into THC for it to be useful as a medicine.

There are a couple of ways to do it. The most effective is through heat. When you put medical cannabis flowers into a dry heating device, that is exactly what happens. Applying heat to the plant material releases the THCA and simultaneously converts it into THC – removing the carboxyl molecule on the fly, so to speak.

If you were to eat medical cannabis flower straight up, the THCA it contained would not be decarboxylated. Therefore, the medical benefits of doing so would either be limited or totally nonexistent.

Vape Liquids, Tinctures, Etc.

At this point, we are guessing that you’re wondering how cannabis flower with THCA becomes various products like vape liquids and tinctures. Although it can be a complicated process, we can explain the basics in just two steps. The first step involves extracting cannabinoids from plant material.

Medical cannabis processors in Utah can use a solvent or heat and pressure to separate cannabinoids from plant material. Once separated, what is left of the plant material can be filtered away, leaving processors with what is known as crude oil. Crude oil is essentially a mixture of all the cannabinoids, terpenes, and flavonoids found in cannabis plants.

The second step involves distillation. Crude oil is placed in a distillation chamber where heat and pressure are applied. Different substances within the crude oil evaporate at different temperatures. By tightly controlling the temperature, processors can evaporate THC or any of the other compounds they are after. The evaporated material is then condensed to return it to liquid form.

Combining With Other Ingredients

Extracted and distilled THC is combined with other ingredients to make vape liquids, tinctures, edibles, and topical medications. THC is often combined with a variety of terpenes to achieve different therapeutic effects. That is really all there is to it.

The secret to it all is removing the carboxyl molecule from THCA. This process is known as decarboxylation. Perhaps you have run across it while reading about medical cannabis recipes. Patients who choose to use cannabis flower in home recipes will often cook the plant material for a time in order to release THCA and convert it to THC. They are decarboxylating the material on the stove the same way a processor would in a manufacturing environment.

We say all of that to say this: there is little to no medical benefit from eating medical cannabis flowers straight up. The flower we sell is intended for use in a dry-heating device or in your own recipes at home.