Cannabutter: the primary ingredient in medicinal marijuana edibles

Anissa Ford's picture

Medical marijuana foods, oils and desserts are faring well with medical marijuana patients who prefer eating over smoking.

A common misconception about medical marijuana cookies and baked goods is the idea that tossing marijuana shake into the mix yields healing properties. Actually that's really untrue and marijuana tossed into brownie mix is not good and has been said to taste like mowed grass and chocolate.

The key ingredient to medical marijuana foods, like brownies, muffins and cookies, is butter. Cannabutter to be exact. Marijuana brownies, chocolates, oils, and cookies are traditional medicines in established dispensaries where medical marijuana is legal. In the five or so decades that marijuana has been traded and used underground, its methods of ingestion have become incredibly sophisticated starting with its prep time in the kitchen.

Cannabutters and oils are created by mixing cannabis with butter or oil and then straining the combination the same way a coffee maker strains ground coffee. In a large pot, suitable for boiling spaghetti, boil a pot of water. In a separate aluminum mixing bowl, add butter. Place that mixing bowl over the large boiling pot of water. When the butter melts, add cannabis. Allow the cannabis and the butter to coagulate for several hours (depending on how much cannabis and butter has been mixed). The combination should result in a dark green fluid. There are one or two good YouTube videos out with directions on how to make cannabutter. Some videos use massive quantities of marijuana and beginners would likely want to scale teh quantity down a bit.

At any rate, cannabis butter requires a good deal of marijuana. Patients who are accustomed to smoking rather than eating their strains may have to reconcile the idea of boiling their leaves in hydrogenated oils. The straining process extracts the THC which then creates a liquid combination of cannabis and butter or cannabutter. Most bakers extract with a cheesecloth. They remove the cannabutter from the mixing bowl, place the ball on a cheesecloth that covers a bowl or jar. Let the oils flow into the jar and then squeeze the ball of marijuana butter in the cheesecloth and extract the remaining liquid.

After preparing the cannabutter, any brownie, cookie, fudge, muffin or scone recipe will do. Recipes from scratch or the box are fine. Adding cannabutter where the recipe calls for oil, butter or margarine is the defining instruction for preparing marijuana brownies. When large amounts of cannabis are used to make foods, it is only necessary to ingest the food little by little and patiently wait for the after effect. Ingesting too much too fast can literally put a patient to sleep for hours, if not a full day.

The process for preparing marijuana oils (almond, olive or any other oil) is quite similar to making butter. The extraction process creates a combination of oil and cannabis. The oils can be used for baking, salad dressing, marinades, pasta dishes or any other recipe using cannaoil the same way regular cooking oils are used.

It is never advisable for medical patients to purchase or prepare cannabis edibles if children are in the home. With or without a medical card, the dispensing of medical cannabis to a minor will likely result in a hospital stint for some incredibly sick, if not poisoned children, and likely may result in a police record.

National Geographic Television chronicled marijuana and a young adult with scoliosis who used medical marijuana for pain associated with the medical condition (when the spine is curved from side to side). Their subject, Miss High Times 2010, demonstrated how to make marijuana brownies, and noted the key ingredient in the recipes as cannabis butter.

There are several ways to prepare cannabis butter. No one prep method is the right way. As for cost effectiveness, self-preparation may be a wiser budgeting solution, providing there are no children in the home. In the end, blending butter and marijuana and then straining that mixture with a cheesecloth or even a coffee filter are the two simple steps to making cannabis edibles.

Medical marijuana is legal in 18 states, including the District of Columbia. This article is intended for legal users and medicinal marijuana cardholders only. And for those who live in states where marijuana for recreational use is legal--Colorado (although many cities are banning recreational sales) and Washington. Even so, medicinal marijuana opponents are adamant, vocal and violent about continuing current prohibition laws.

Still, dispensaries are steadily finding ways to make marijuana medicine a preferred pharmaceutical. Baked goods: muffins, cookies and brownies are popular in dispensary states because many patients prefer to ingest cannabis the same way other medicines are ingested---through the bloodstream, rather than the lungs and the brain.