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A Complete Guide to Cannabis Tinctures

In this guide, learn everything you need to know about cannabis tinctures, including what they are, their benefits, how they’re used, and how you can make your own.

Spurred by marijuana now being legal in some capacity in about 30 U.S. states, more and more people are interested in learning about cannabis tinctures and their benefits.

An age-old and common method for delivering the medicinal benefits of marijuana, cannabis tinctures are easy to take and offer discretion and quick effects.

Here we give an overview of cannabis tinctures, including what they are, the benefits they offer, how they can be consumed, and how you can make your very own at home.

What are Cannabis Tinctures?

Cannabis tinctures, also sometimes referred to as “green dragon” because of their typical deep green color, are cannabis extracts that have been infused into an alcohol base. When purchased at a dispensary, they typically come in a dark dropper bottle to preserve the tincture’s active compounds.

Cannabis tinctures are typically made by soaking marijuana flower in alcohol and letting the two infuse into a liquid form of marijuana. The alcohol works to extract the flower’s cannabinoids — such as tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) and cannabidiol (CBD) — and terpenes, producing a liquid extract with a high concentration of active compounds.

Throughout the history of medical cannabis in the United States, cannabis-infused tinctures have been a common form of marijuana medication. They were in fact the nation’s most frequently physician-recommended type of cannabis product until the use of marijuana for medical purposes was federally prohibited in 1937.

cannabis tincture history

What are the Benefits of Cannabis Tinctures?

While cannabis tinctures are slightly less common today, they are still popular among medical marijuana patients. For those new to medical marijuana, cannabis tinctures offer an approachable and non-invasive way to consume marijuana and its cannabinoids.

This concentrated liquid form of marijuana offers several benefits that make them an ideal choice for those who prefer ease, versatility, discretion, and a quick onset of effects.

Fast-Acting

Cannabis tinctures are fast acting, meaning once they’re consumed they will begin interacting with the body’s systems and delivering effects quickly. The liquid concentrate’s active compounds are quickly absorbed and delivered to the bloodstream, where they can interact with receptors and stimulate effects.

Depending on the cannabinoid concentration and makeup of your tincture, and how you consume it, you can expect to feel effects in as little as 15 minutes.

Easy Dosage Control

Cannabis tinctures are typically administered using a dropper, allowing you to easily control your serving. If after waiting a few minutes for desired effects, you can decide if more is needed and quickly take additional drops.

Discreet

Cannabis tinctures are odor-free, allowing medical marijuana patients to take their medication discreetly and without disturbing family members or neighbors. You can easily take your medicine with you on road trips within the state without having to worry about finding a place to smoke.

Safe Consumption

Cannabis tinctures are a safe way to consume medical marijuana. Unlike smoking marijuana, which exposes your lungs to dangerous toxins and carcinogens, cannabis tinctures are consumed in a way that is safe and poses no danger to the lungs.

Long Shelf Life

When stored properly, cannabis tinctures preserved in alcohol like ethanol have a long shelf life. While cannabinoids will gradually degrade over time, cannabis tinctures can remain good for years if they’re kept away from heat and light. Ideally, tinctures are stored in an airtight dark glass container and kept in a dark, cool area.

marijuana tinctures

How are Cannabis Tinctures Used?

Most of the time, cannabis tinctures are taken sublingually. This means that a few drops of the liquid concentrate are placed under the tongue so the active compounds can be absorbed through the mucous membranes in the mouth.

For those patients needing quick effects, this sublingual method delivers cannabinoids and other compounds to the bloodstream nearly instantly. Once absorbed, the cannabinoids can interact with the cannabinoid receptors of the endocannabinoid system, and began eliciting their effects.

Cannabis tinctures can also be infused into foods and beverages. While ingesting tinctures is slower acting than absorbing them sublingually, cannabis tinctures can be blended into smoothies, juices, yogurts, soups, ice creams, oatmeal, salad dressing, and even coffee.

Once swallowed, the concentrate is digested and its compounds metabolized by the liver. It can take about an hour for the compounds to reach your bloodstream and for their effects to be noticeable.

Keep in mind that you don’t want to cook with cannabis tinctures at high heat, because doing so will quickly degrade the cannabinoids and diminish the concentrate’s potency.

How Do You Make Cannabis Tinctures?

Making your own traditional cannabis tinctures is generally a simple process and requires just a handful of items. By making your own, you have full control on the potency and cannabinoid concentration of your tincture. Some prefer strains that are higher in THC, while others enjoy the effects of CBD-rich tinctures.

You’ll need:

  • Marijuana flower (about 1/8 an ounce or more) or extract. Flower should be decarboxylated and ground fine
  • High-proof alcohol, such as Everclear
  • Airtight glass jar
  • Coffee filter

Steps:

  1. Place your marijuana flower into the glass jar. Pour in the high-proof alcohol until it covers the flower.
  2. Seal the jar closed. Shake rigorously.
  3. Let the jar sit for 3-4 weeks. Shake it rigorously once a day.
  4. Use a coffee filter to filter the liquid from the remaining flower.

making tinctures with marijuana flower

Learn More about Medical Marijuana

Now legal in more than half of all states in the U.S., medical marijuana can be consumed using various methods, including vaping, dabbing, smoking, digestion through marijuana-infused edibles, and even topically applied to the skin.

You can learn more medical marijuana basics by visiting our Cannabis 101 Page.

Post by Eve Ripley

Eve is a writer specializing in cannabis education and editorials related to cannabis industry news.
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