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She also says that one of the main building blocks for asthma is inflammation — in fact, inflammation is a major part of many disease processes. “[Asthma is] a chronic inflammatory process that involves the lungs, the bronchioles, etc. And it’s an imbalance in the immune system that the endocannabinoid system does address,” she continues. But Knox acknowledges that smoking pot can be less than ideal for people with asthma and other respiratory conditions: “With smoking, when you heat it, you get those breakdown cells, those byproducts that can cause some irritation to the bronchial tree. You want to avoid those products — polycystic aromatics, hydrocarbons, ammonia, carbon monoxide.”
How can you ingest cannabis instead of smoking it?
Smoking pot releases the chemical we’re all familiar with: THC, or specifically Delta-9 tetrahydrocannabinol. Knox explains that eating marijuana can result in a dramatically different body high because of the way the liver breaks down cannabis. “It’s broken down in the liver into something called 11-hydroxy tetrahydrocannabinol (abbreviated as 11-OH-THC). That’s more intoxicating than Delta-9 THC,” says Knox. “You may not want to start with edibles for a more naive patient.”
That kind of breakdown and absorption process can also hinder the benefits of weed for people with GI issues like irritable bowel syndrome or colitis, Knox explains. “Something where the gut is sick, it may not absorb as well. We try to get a different way to get the product into the body.”
In a legal market like Oregon, alternatives to smoking are widely available in stores. A person with asthma or other lung ailments can walk into a weed store and buy a high-CBD, low-THC blend in the form of candies, capsules, drops, or even a nebulizer — a cool-mist, smoke-free inhaler. But what to do in the majority of the country where the most-likely available product is old-fashioned flower? That’s where a portable decarboxylator comes in handy.
How does a decarboxylator work?
Traditionally, making edibles or other consumable forms of marijuana at home meant “decarbing” weed by cooking it until stinky in an oven at a precise temperature or arduously distilling the flower into butter or oil form before making brownies. Raw marijuana won’t kill you if you eat it, but it won’t get you high or release the majority of its medicinal compounds, either, in its naked acidic form. So I was excited when Ardent — a woman-of-color-owned company based in Massachusetts — sent me a decarboxylator. About the size of a coffee grinder or an Amazon Echo, Ardent’s sleek little machine made prepping my weed simple without making my entire apartment building reek of pot.
Using a hybrid strain of weed provided by Oso Verde Farms (an LGBTQ-woman-of-color-owned farm in rural Oregon), I decided to keep things simple and make chocolate chip cookies with a recipe posted right on Ardent’s website.
Preparing the pot was ridiculously easy; I dumped a quarter-ounce of flower into the decarboxylator, pressed the “on” button, and let it do its thing until the color of the light changed from red to green less than two hours later. Before starting the process, the weed smelled pungent — a scent that changed after decarbing to a more citrus-like sour odor. After grinding the decarbed pot in a food processor, I threw it in a bowl with some flour and proceeded to make an otherwise normal batch of cookies.
How did my experiment with edibles and the decarboxylator go?
To be honest, I was almost afraid to eat those cookies. I licked the spoon while baking a couple of times, ingesting maybe a tablespoon of raw dough, and for the rest of the night was stoned enough to suffer from dry mouth — and even a hangover the next morning. Having a super-powered batch of two dozen weed cookies sitting in my cabinet means I have to be careful to only ingest a small nibble here and there to get the medicinal effects.