Cannabis-infused edibles are all the rage lately, but they're a far cry from the boxed brownies you mixed with shake and seeds back in high school. In honor of 4/20, we present a step-by-step guide to making cannabutter and cannaoil, to be used in any and all of your favorite recipes. For more detailed instructions, see our notes below. Illustration by Keara McGraw.
Step 1: Pick Your Strain
Not all marijuana is made equal. If you have trouble remembering the difference between the cerebral high afforded by sativa strains and the body high produced by indicas, just remember that indicas will put you "in da couch" and chill. Ask your dispensary for more information about specific strains, or check online resources like Leafly.
Step 2: Calculate Your Dosage
Here's the tricky part. You can't know the cannabinoid content of your bud without sending it to a lab, and even then the results aren't always consistent. While weed was less potent several decades ago, you can now find strains in the US that range anywhere from 10 to 20 percent THC.
For the purposes of this example, we'll assume your bud has 15 percent (.15) THC. Here's a simple formula for calculating dosage:
Multiply the weight of your weed in milligrams by its assumed THC content:
6 grams = 6,000 mg
6,000 x .15 = 900 mg THC in 6g
Next, divide that number by the total number of tablespoons of fat you're using. In our cannabutter recipe, we recommend 6 grams of cannabis to 1 pound of butter or 2 cups of oil.
900 mg THC / 32 tbsp (in 2 cups) = 28.1 mg THC/tbsp
Finally, calculate how many tablespoons of weed-infused fat your recipe calls for, and its total yield. If your brownie recipe that serves 6, 8, or 12 people calls for 5 tablespoons of regular butter and 5 tablespoons of cannabutter, only use the cannabutter in your calculation.
5 x 28.1 mg THC = 140.5 mg THC in total brownie batch
140.5 mg / 6 servings = 23.4 mg THC per brownie
140.5 mg / 8 servings = 17.5 mg THC per brownie
140.5 mg / 12 servings = 11.7 mg THC per brownie
Please remember that these are rough guidelines and that your mileage may vary. It's always better to underdose than overdose.
Step 3: Decarboxylate
The first mistake newbie edibles bakers make is forgetting to decarboxylate (or decarb) their cannabis. Not doing so keeps precious THC locked up as THC-A, which is basically unactivated THC that has no psychoactive properties. (Though it does have other effects.) If you want to get the most out of your bud, you'll want to decarb with the following method.
Heat the oven to 250°F. Spread marijuana out into an even layer on a baking sheet. Bake the marijuana, taking care not to let the marijuana go over 250° and burn (if this happens, you can lose potency). Bake for about 35-40 minutes, then remove from the oven and cool before grinding into a coarse powder. This decarboxylated weed will keep in an airtight container in a cool, dark place for up to 2 months.
Step 4: Infuse Your Cannabis
Now that you've activated as much of the THC in your cannabis as possible, you need to infuse it in fat.
To make butter or oil: In a medium saucepan over medium-low heat, melt the butter. Add the decarboxylated weed and cook, taking care not to let the temperature go over 200°F, for about 45 minutes. Remove from heat and let sit, undisturbed, for 10 minutes, before straining through a fine mesh-sieve set over a bowl. Press carefully with a spoon to extract as much oil as possible. The cannabutter/cannaoil will keep, covered and refrigerated, for up to 8 weeks.
You can also infuse your weed in alcohol to make weed sugar!
Step 5: Use It!
Simply swap out some or all of the butter or coconut oil called for in your favorite recipe, always remembering to divide the total amount of THC in your cannabutter/oil by the number of servings in your recipe. E.g., if your recipe calls for ½ cup of butter and you replace it with ½ cup of cannabutter that contains a total of 150 mg of THC, 10 brownies will contain 15 mg of THC each, 20 brownies will contain 7.5 mg THC, etc.
If you need more inspiration, check out our list of weed-infused recipes here.