Decarboxylation is a crucial chemical process in preparing cannabis for consumption, especially in edibles, tinctures, and other non-smokable forms. This process involves heating cannabis to activate its cannabinoids, such as turning THCA (tetrahydrocannabinolic acid), which is not psychoactive, into THC (tetrahydrocannabinol), the compound primarily responsible for cannabis’ psychoactive effects.

Raw cannabis contains cannabinoids in their acidic forms, which have different properties and effects compared to their activated non-acidic counterparts. Decarboxylation typically occurs when cannabis is smoked or vaporized, but for making edibles or other ingestible products, cannabis must be decarboxylated beforehand to ensure that the cannabinoids will have the desired effect upon consumption.

The process typically involves heating the cannabis at a controlled temperature—usually around 220-245°F (104-118°C) for approximately 30 to 40 minutes. This heat exposure ensures the acidic cannabinoids lose a carboxyl group (COOH), turning them into their active states. Proper decarboxylation maximizes the potency and effectiveness of the cannabis-infused products.