Like most plants that grow flowers, the buds on a cannabis plant receive a lot of attention. But in a desperate moment when you’ve smoked your entire stash (and your local JARS store is closed), it could be easy to find oneself wondering about the leftover stems…
Do stems have the same makeup as cannabis? Is there a way to be economical and get some good use out of this largely ignored part of the plant? Can cannabis stems get you high? Read on to discover the answers to these questions and more.
Do Cannabis Stems Contain THC?
Given that THC (or tetrahydrocannabinol) is the cannabinoid in cannabis that gets you high, this is the big question. So let us save you some time (and a coughing fit) by telling you that, no, cannabis stems do not contain THC—or any magical psychoactive properties for that matter.
Although, people have been grinding up stems with their cannabis flower and smoking them (whether intentionally or not) in bowls and blunts since the dawn of smoking, it’s not going to do much for your high.
If anything, the additional bulky plant matter creates more fodder for fire, which makes for big, nasty, billowing, smokey hits. All of this additional smoke can be bad for your lungs, and the worst-case scenario can be linked to several long-term issues like respiratory problems, and lung disease.
Even though cannabis stems themselves do not contain anything psychoactive, there is still a place for cannabis stems in areas other than smoking—so save your stems, just don’t smoke them.
Preparing Your Stems
Before transforming the humble cannabis stem into something magical, start by dedicating a glass jar to storing the discarded stems from your cannabis hauls. Over time you will collect enough stems to take advantage of its delicious flavor and aroma.
Before doing anything creative with your cannabis stems you must first activate the flavor by putting them through the process of decarboxylation. This is the same process that needs to be done with cannabis flower before it gets made into oils and butter for cooking.
Decarboxylation is a fancy word that describes a relatively straightforward (but incredibly necessary) process of heating cannabis and hemp to activate the cannabinoids within its buds, trim, leaves, or kief. Without using heat to “toast” the plant matter, the psychoactive compounds we know and love would just pass through our bodies without effect.
How to Decarboxylate Cannabis and Cannabis Stems
Set your oven to 235 degrees Fahrenheit.
Prepare a cookie sheet by measuring a length of parchment paper or aluminum foil that fits just so on the sheet, and doesn’t go over the edges.
Now you can add your cannabis stems and cannabis flower. Be sure to break up the buds so that your cannabis doesn’t burn.
Bake slow and low for about 45 minutes. Check on your herbs about halfway through, or when you start to smell something cooking, to make sure that they don’t burn.
Alternative Uses For Stems
- Cannabis Stem Tea –
Some people enjoy the umami quality of the stems and like to make tea with this forgotten part of the plant. Cannabis stems are flavorful in a savory way—whatever flavor profile your nugs have, the stems will likely impart a similar taste.
Using a metal tea ball (meant for steeping loose herbs), or a coffee filter and a rubber band, collect the decarboxylated bits of cannabis stems. Next, boil the water. Grab a mug, and then steep the cannabis stem tea in the hot water for 3-5 minutes. Feel free to throw in one of your favorite tea bags for additional flavor.
And voila! Simply sip on your flavorful masterpiece and give yourself a pat on the back.
- Cannabutter –
Often used as a butter substitute when baking edibles, cannabutter is a fantastic thing to keep on hand. Widely loved by cannachefs for its versatility and flavor, this infusion can even be used for cooking in your day-to-day life.
Cannabutter is made by gently boiling decarbed cannabis and stems on the stovetop with butter until the fat in the butter absorbs the THC. Then, using a cheesecloth to strain the bits out, an infusion is born.
- Body butters and oils –
There is a bevy of salves and creams on the market made from cannabis and hemp that are designed to topically relieve ailments by delivering some of the benefits of cannabis directly to pain spots.
Now, you can make your own cannabis-infused body butter on the stovetop. The key here is to cook the decarboxylated cannabis and stems in coconut oil instead of butter. You can make cannabis-infused coconut oil using the exact same method that you use to make cannabutter.
Once you’ve prepared your coconut oil, mix it into your preferred lotion, shea, or coconut oil. You can also create your own blend using essential oils to give yourself an aromatherapeutic experience.
Then, apply the product liberally wherever you feel pain. While doing so, give yourself a little bit of love. A massage is free if you give it to yourself.
There are plenty of creative ways that the not-so-potent cannabis stem of yesteryear can be used today. If you are feeling intimidated by the process of transforming cannabis stems, come by one of our JARS locations to speak with a specialist. You can always purchase similar products instead of making them yourself.