There are many ways to consume marijuana, and the effects of each method vary in duration, intensity, and perceived benefit. You may already have a good idea of how it feels when you smoke weed or consume THC-infused edibles, but what happens if you eat raw marijuana? We’ll take you through the budding research on the effects of consuming raw cannabis and show you why some are calling raw marijuana a superfood.
Will eating raw marijuana get me high?
No, eating raw cannabis shouldn’t get you high, as long as it has not been heated. The cannabinoids found abundantly in raw cannabis are THCA (tetrahydrocannabinolic acid) and CBDA (cannabidiolic acid).
THCA is the non-psychoactive precursor to tetrahydrocannabinol(the cannabinoid that produces an intoxicating effect in marijuana). THCA converts to THC through the process of decarboxylation when you cook or smoke your dry marijuana buds.
While THCA is non-psychoactive, a 2016 study suggests it is pharmacologically active and “might exert anti-inflammatory, immunomodulatory, neuroprotective, and antineoplastic actions.” The study concludes that using raw, unheated preparations of cannabis could “maximize therapeutic gain on the treatment of several ailments” while limiting the unwanted side effects of THC.
CBDA is the non-psychoactive precursor for cannabidiol, also known as CBD. The benefits and effects of CBD have been widely discussed as the popularity of this cannabinoid has soared since the 2018 Farm Bill removed hemp from its list of controlled substances.
Preliminary studies suggest that CBDA may also have therapeutic benefits including nausea reduction and the potential to reduce inflammatory activity. CBDA has even shown promising anti-depressant effects in a study conducted on rats. More research is needed to explore the effects of CBDA and THCA.
Cannabis produces an intoxicating effect after THC has been activated through heat, pressure, or both. This is why marijuana edible recipes usually call for cannabutter, which involves decarboxylating dry cannabis flower before infusing the herb into an oil for cooking. Eating raw, unheated cannabis leaves may have some health-promoting benefits, but it should not cause intoxication.
Is Raw Weed a Superfood?
Although eating raw weed doesn’t get you high, many are hailing raw cannabis as the next superfood. While there is no official medical definition for “superfood,” the term refers to a “food (such as salmon, broccoli, or blueberries) that is rich in compounds (such as antioxidants, fiber, or fatty acids) considered beneficial to a person’s health,” according to Merriam-Webster. Let’s take a closer look at the nutrients and beneficial compounds in raw cannabis.
Raw Leaves: The raw leaves of the cannabis plant are an excellent source of calcium, iron, zinc, potassium, magnesium, fiber and phosphorous. Raw hemp leaves are also rich in:
- Polyphenols, a powerful antioxidant that has been linked to a number of health benefits.
- Chlorophyll, a plant pigment that gives raw cannabis its bright green color. Researchers have conducted studies on chlorophyll’s anti-aging, acne-fighting, and wound-healing properties. Some studies even suggest that chlorophyll could slow cancer growth.
- Terpenes, which give the plants their distinctive scent and have many suggested health benefits.
Hemp Seeds: Hemp hearts, or shelled hemp seeds, can be found in grocery stores across the country. 100 grams of hemp hearts contains a whopping 32 grams of protein, as well as vitamin B6, folate, riboflavin, magnesium, phosphorus, potassium, iron, zinc, and manganese. Hemp seeds contain more protein and omega 3 and 6 than flax or chia seeds.
Raw Hemp leaves and hemp seeds, with their high fiber, antioxidants, and omegas, may be the next “superfood,” but more research is needed to prove the benefits of eating raw cannabis.
Advocates of Eating Raw Weed
The two main proponents of consuming raw cannabis for its health benefits are the co-founders of Cannabis International, Dr. William L. Courtney, MD and Kristen Peskuski(Courtney), a researcher and raw cannabis patient.
In a High Times article, Peskuski describes the excruciating symptoms of her multiple chronic illnesses including lupus, rheumatoid arthritis, and endometriosis. After years of doctors, prescriptions, and self-medicating by smoking cannabis and consuming edibles, she moved to California and met Dr. Courtney who advised her to consume raw cannabis. According to Courtney, consuming fresh, juiced cannabis means patients can significantly increase their cannabinoid intake without experiencing the psychoactive effects of smoking cannabis.
Dr. Courtney recommended 15 leaves per day and 2 raw buds for his chronically ill patients. After years of including high doses of raw cannabis in her daily routine, Peskuski was able to become pregnant—something her previous doctors told her would never be possible. She states, “I had a perfect pregnancy. I felt better than I did in my entire life.”
Dr. William Courtney now promotes “the dietary uses of cannabis to achieve 250 to 500 mg of cannabinoid acids, which he considers as a conditionally essential nutrient in the diet of individuals from the 4th decade on.” According to their website, he and Kristen are working to lift cannabis bans to expand access to raw cannabis worldwide.
How to Eat Raw Marijuana
If you’re interested in seeing how consuming raw marijuana could benefit you, there are a number of delicious ways to get your daily dose of cannabinoids. The most concentrated option is to juice your raw cannabis. In fact, Dr. Courtney recommends drinking cannabis juice every few hours throughout the day for maximum benefits. Cannabis juice alone can be extremely bitter, so consider a 10-1 ratio with fruits and vegetables like apples, carrots, pineapples, pears, and cucumbers. You can also add raw cannabis to your smoothies to benefit from the fiber in the flowers and leaves.
Don’t have access to raw cannabis leaves? Cold-pressed hemp seed oil can be found in many grocery stores and used as an alternative to olive or other oils. Hemp seeds are also in stores nationwide and can be used for a protein boost in smoothies, sprinkled on top of salads, cereal, or yogurt, or eaten alone as a nutty snack.
Raw Marijuana- Should You Eat It?
Can you eat raw marijuana? Absolutely. Some even highly recommend it. If you’re looking for an easy way to get high, eating raw cannabis isn’t the best way to go. Check out an easy edible recipe instead. If you’re looking for nutrients, antioxidants, and other beneficial cannabinoids without the high, eating raw cannabis may be the right choice for you.