One of the biggest benefits of medical marijuana is the alternative it offers patients to highly addictive and damaging opioid pain pills. Pills can cause long-term stomach and liver issues when abused, or even worse, which leads many to the much safer alternative of cannabis. However, not everyone is comfortable smoking, and other methods of consumption such as edibles and concentrates are too strong for some. For those patients looking for yet another alternative, there are marijuana-based pills. With around 44 people dying a day from opioid painkiller overdose in our country alone, it’s time to weigh the options.
Currently, there are two FDA-approved options on the market in the US for patients seeking a marijuana-based pill.
The most common variant is Dronabinol, more commonly referred to as Marinol, is made from synthetic delta-9-tetrahydrocannabinol (THC). First approved by the FDA all the way back in 1992 for medicinal use, Marinol is primarily used in the treatment of cancer and AIDS patients. Marinol eases nausea and vomiting that chemotherapy causes in those stricken with cancer, while AIDS patients use the pill to stimulate their appetite. Marinol is currently one of only two marijuana-based pills approved for prescribed use in the United States by the FDA, along with Cesamet.
Nabilone, sold as Cesamet, is not as widely prescribed as Marinol but is also used in the treatment of cancer patients undergoing chemotherapy. While Marinol is comprised of synthetic THC, Cesamet is made of a synthetic cannabinoid similar to those found in the plant. Originally the first synthetic marijuana pill to be approved in the United States in 1985, Cesamet was eventually pulled from shelves before reappearing on the market in 2006 upon reinstatement by the FDA.
While these pills are a decent option for those looking to avoid more harmful drugs while not smoking, medical experts still believe that whole plant cannabis is a far more effective option. For example, a Marinol pill can take anywhere from 90-120 minutes to take effect, whereas smoking a joint gave patients relief in as little as 15 minutes. One advantage to ingesting the pill rather than smoking is longer lasting effects, as anyone who has consumed an edible can attest to.
The main downside to these synthetic marijuana pills is they only utilize one component of the plant, if they even do that. Experts argue that the true medicinal value of marijuana is found in the whole plant, providing a myriad of cannabinoids and terpenoids that each work in synchronicity to heal the mind and body from the inside out.
If you want to skip the synthetic and make your own marijuana pills from whole plant marijuana, it’s easier than you may think. Follow the steps below and see which method of marijuana consumption works best for you.
You will need:
1. Oil (coconut, sesame, or virgin olive work best)
2. Cannabis (your chosen amount, but remember you’re eating it)
5. Mixing bowl
6. Empty pill capsules
7. Smallest spoon you can find
Step 1: Marijuana Dosing
Break out your basic math skills for this step, as incorrect dosing will leave you either greatly disappointed or not knowing what planet you’re on. For example, if you’re making 10 pills using 2 grams of 25% THC flower, each pill will carry a 50mg dosage (1g @ 10% THC = 100mg). Only you know your tolerance, so weigh accordingly and be precise.
Step 2: Decarboxylation (from our tincture recipe)
The decarboxylation process allows you to convert the THCa or CBDa found in cannabis to THC or CBD. This process will make your oils, edibles, and tinctures more potent. You can decarb your flower to THC and CBD depending on the temperature and length of time. For example:
THCa –> THC 245° F decarbing 60 minutes
CBDa –> CBD 245° F decarbing 90 minutes
Start by preheating the oven to 245° F. Break up the cannabis flowers or buds into smaller pieces with your hands or grinder. Place the broken up cannabis pieces evenly on a baking sheet with a rim to prevent pieces from falling. Rotate the cooking pan every 15 minutes to ensure an even toast.
Once your decarbed flower is out the oven, add just enough oil to saturate it, then mix this in your bowl for about a minute. Heat up a pan on the stove and transfer the mixture. Heat your mixture in the pan for about 15 minutes, but make sure it doesn’t get too hot (you do not want it to bubble, remember your flower is already decarbed).
Cool your mixture.
With your smallest available spoon, distribute your mixture into the empty pill capsules and fasten them securely.
Cover Image Courtesy of funnyangel