Cannabis plant material that is mature and ready for harvest, but has not been dried or cured, or heated for consumption. Raw cannabis is usually eaten by consumers because it contains cannabinoids in their acid forms, such as THCA or CBDA, before decarboxylation. These compounds provide a unique set of health benefits in addition to fatty acids, vitamins, and minerals, which differ from cannabis that is smoked or decarboxylated.
“I put raw cannabis in my smoothies for a boost of superfoods.”
“Raw cannabis does not impart a high, but it does provide a plethora of antioxidants and vitamins.”
What is raw cannabis?
Raw cannabis has not been heated, dried, cured, or activated in any way, and maintains an array of omega fatty acids, proteins, minerals, including calcium and iron, and vitamins like vitamin A, B1, B2, C, and E, in addition to various other compounds.
While decarboxylation, infusion, and extractions preserve cannabinoids and terpenes in cannabis, much of the plant’s nutritional value gets purged or goes unused when smoked as flower or turned into an extract—this is done through combustion, such as using a lighter to smoke a joint or bowl, or a torch to take a dab; or through decarboxylation, such as heating cannabis in an oven in order to make cannabutter.
People get different health benefits from compounds such as THCA and CBDA by eating raw cannabis, whereas a majority of cannabis consumers decarboxylate weed to turn THCA and CBDA into THC and CBD when smoking, dabbing, or infusing it.
Benefits and uses of raw cannabis
Because it has not been cured, raw cannabis is too wet to smoke—moisture will make it taste vegetal and make the smoke harsh. Plants are often frozen immediately after harvest for raw cannabis, in order to preserve the plant’s trichomes, which also preserves its nutritional value.
Raw cannabis buds and leaves can be juiced, blended in smoothies, or added to salads or other recipes to ingest for maximum nutritional absorption. With strains containing THC, cannabis’ psychoactive component, ingesting them in raw form can still potentially create a high even though it has not been decarboxylated.
Can raw weed get you high?
THC, CBD, and CBG are three compounds that may produce significant therapeutic effects.
However, these three cannabinoids do not occur naturally in high concentrations in raw weed. Raw weed contains these three cannabinoids with a carboxylic acid attached. Experts refer to these compounds as delta-9-tetrahydrocannabinolic (THCA-A), cannabidiolic acid (CBDA), and cannabigerolic acid (CBGA).
With exposure to light or heat from smoking or baking, the carboxylic acid group detaches. This process is called decarboxylation. Without the carboxylic acid group, these three compounds have the potential to cause a therapeutic effect. It is only then that THC can result in a high.
People are therefore unlikely to experience a significant high if they eat raw weed.
Other effects of raw weed
Despite the lack of high from the carboxylated forms of THC, researchers are interested in the possible therapeutic effects of raw weed. These potential benefits may include.
Protecting brain cells
One study in the British Journal of PharmacologyTrusted Source 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. THC may be an interesting therapeutic option in these cases.
Inhibiting tumor necrosis
Another study, this time in the journal International ImmunopharmacologyTrusted Source, 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.
Further studies will be necessary to confirm the effects of THCA on the immune system and its applications in immune conditions.
Providing antinausea effects
Researchers are also interested in the possible antinausea effect of THCA.
In another study in the British Journal of PharmacologyTrusted Source, researchers explored the antinausea 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 antinausea and anti-vomiting effects of low dosesTrusted Source of cannabidiolic acid. Also, cannabidiolic acid made the antinausea drug ondansetron more effective. Further studies in humans are needed to confirm these results.
Challenges in research
One of the difficulties associated with studying the effects of THCA is its instability in nature. The carboxylic acid group detaches easily from the compound.
For example, researchers have demonstrated that THCA is unstable in ethanol. After 10 days at 77ºF (25ºC), only 33%Trusted Source of the THCA remained in ethanol. Losses of THCA even occurred after freezing.
Although researchers suggest that there are many possible medicinal uses of raw weed, they must ensure its stability to prevent THCA from converting quickly to THC, which causes a high.
Alternative ways to use weed
According to one studyTrusted Source, smoking is the most prevalent form of marijuana use. Vaping is another common form of consumption. However, both vaping and smoking can have adverse effects on the lungs.
Consuming marijuana in the form of edibles could be a way of using weed without harming the lungs.
The effects of edibles differ from those of raw weed because the cannabis in edibles has gone through the process of decarboxylation.
The section below discusses edibles in more detail.
In states where recreational marijuana use is legal, 11% Trusted Sourceof people who use it take it in edible form. In states where only medical marijuana use is legal, there is a 5.1%Trusted Source prevalence of edible use. Only 4.2%Trusted Source of people report consuming edibles in states where marijuana is illegal.
Researchers have also foundTrusted Source that baked goods and candies are the most consumed edible marijuana products in the United States.
Manufacturers also produce marijuana infused:
- sublingual drops
- mouth sprays
People who do not want to smoke, who do not want to smell of smoke, or who feel anxious about inhaling weed may wish to consider consuming edibles instead.
It is possible for a person consuming marijuana in the form of an edible to take too much. They may not notice this immediately because the high may be delayed. To avoid taking too much, eat a smaller amount and wait for the effect.
People are unlikely to get high from eating raw weed. Cannabis naturally produces potentially inactive compounds. These include THCA, which is THC with a carboxylic acid group attached, among others.
Some researchers are interested in the possible medicinal benefits of THCA, as it has demonstrated early evidence for neuroprotection, immunologic effects, and antinausea and anti-vomiting effects.
People who want to get high from consuming cannabis can prepare raw weed in baked goods. Heat and other factors cause the carboxyl group to detach from the compound. In this form, THC will have psychogenic effects.
A person can also consume marijuana in drinks, spreads, mouth sprays, and pills.