Before prohibition in the 1930's, many of the medicines used were tinctures derived from cannabis and other healing herbs. A tincture, by definition, is a medicine made by dissolving a drug in alcohol. When I make a cannabis tincture, I will refer to it as a Green Dragon tincture or simply GD for short. This is Not Just Another Tincture Thread. This thread will be devoted not only to the Green Dragon tincture recipe, but also on how to use the tincture for edibles and topicals. The methods taught in this thread, were pioneered by PsychedelicSam over at Grass City (@PSam here). I have spent well over a year studying these methods, and now I bring them to you here at OG.
The main psychoactive compound in cannabis is known as Tetrahydrocannabinol (THC). The plant does not actually produce THC, but rather the acid version refereed to as THCA. When cannabis is smoked, the material is combusted. The high heat frees the acid (carboxyl group) making THC which in turn gives the psychoactive effect often sought out for recreation use. There are many benefits to THCA, and it can be utilized medicinally without getting the psychoactive effects. When ingesting cannabis, there is no heat and the carboxyl group must be removed (decarboxylation) prior to use if the psychoactive effects are desired. Other cannabinoids, such as Cannabidiol (CBD) are also found in their acid forms. Many medicinal effects can be created by mixing cannabinoids and their acidic forms.
The simplest way to decarboxylate the cannabis is to cook it in the oven, uncovered, at a temperature of 240°F for 40 minutes. This temperature is low enough to prevent the vaporization of the THC, yet high enough to remove the carboxyl group as well as any excess moisture. Some of the aromas and flavors (terpenes and flavonoids) are lost during this process. It is suggested to use an oven thermometer to verify the actual temperature in the oven.
Decarboxylation using a toaster oven.
- Preheat the oven to 240°F. Use an oven thermometer to verify the temperature for best results.
- Break up the dried cannabis flowers to a joint rolling consistency and spread a thin layer on a cookie sheet.
- Bake in a preheated oven for 40 minutes uncovered.
- Allow to cool for five minutes before using.
Green Dragon Tincture
The Green Dragon tincture is a cannabis extraction using ethanol. Because ethanol is a polar solvent it has a tendency to extract chlorophyll. This usually gives the tincture a green or golden color as the name suggests. Because chlorophyll is bitter, this recipe uses the freezer to limit the amount of chlorophyll picked up by the ethanol. Green Dragon can be used as is using a dropper bottle, it can be added to beverages and drank, or it can be transferred to other mediums and used in recipes. Because this is alcohol extraction, we want the purest alcohol we can find. We will need at least 95% alcohol (190 proof) in order to reduce to potent levels as well as transferring to other mediums without adding extra water. Lower proof alcohol can be used, but will require an additional step before ready for use. Additionally extra water in lower proof alcohol will pull more of the water soluble chlorophyll. Let's start off with the basic recipe, then we will go through the steps in detail.
- 1/4 oz (7 grams) of dried cannabis flowers
- 6 oz. 190 proof grain alcohol, divided
You will also need
- Oven thermometer
- Pint size canning jars
- Cheese cloth
- Coffee Filters
Alcohol and cannabis after 24 hours in the freezer.
First wash after two hours in the freezer.
Strain and filter second wash.
- Decarboxylate the cannabis in an oven at 240°F for 40 minutes uncovered.
- Place the cannabis in a canning jar and place the jar in the freezer for at least 24 hours.
- Place the alcohol bottle in the freezer for at least 24 hours.
- After 24 hours, measure and pour 3 oz. of freezing cold alcohol into the jar of cannabis and shake for five minutes.
- Place jar back in the freezer for 2 hours.
- Remove the jar from the freezer and shake for another five minutes.
- Strain the jar through the cheesecloth into a separate container, and then return the plant material to the jar in the freezer.
- Filter the strained alcohol thorough a coffee filter to remove the fine plant material.
- Pour the remaining 3 oz. of frozen alcohol in the with the plant material, and then shake for five minutes.
- Strain and filter as before.
- Combine the alcohol from both runs. there will likely be only 4 oz. or so due to spillage and absorption.
Reduction, Potency, and Dosing
The recipe as given needs to be reduced by at least one half to increase potency. When discussing potency there are lots of variables that can play into THC content. Instead this guide will use the "whole plant scale". this scale tells us the amount of dried cannabis flower used per ounce of alcohol. In the recipe given, the potency is 1.75 grams/ oz. This is no a very potent dose. By reducing the volume in half to 2 oz. the potency is now 3.5 grams / oz. This is the standard potency used in the recipes unless otherwise noted. At the standard reduction, a single dose would be between 0.5-1.0 ml. So a single ounce (30 ml) of Green Dragon represents 30-60 servings or doses.
Caution should be used when reducing the alcohol since it is quite flammable. Open flames and smoking should be completely avoided.
You will need
- Electric heating source
- Double boiler
Reducing Green Dragon using a rice cooker as a double boiler.
- Setup the double boiler on the heating source under the ventilation hood.
- Add Green Dragon to the double boiler
- Continue to boil the alcohol until the volume has reduced to the desired level.
- Remove from heat and allow to cool before using.
Potency can be estimated fairly accurately using the following formula:
(THC% * mg* efficiency)/ml = mg/ml
For example, let's assume that the flower potency used in the basic recipe is about 20% THC. We used 7 grams in the recipe which is equal to 7000 mg. The extraction efficiency with this method is approximately 75%, and the total volume is about 60 ml (2 oz.):
(0.2 * 7000 mg * 0.75)/60 ml = 17.5 mg/ml.
As with any cannabis product, it is best to start low and go slow. The suggested starting dose at this potency is about 1/2 ml. This is about a dropper full in a standard dropper bottle. The quickest way to get an effect would be sublingual or buccal dosing. That is placing the Green Dragon in the mouth or under the tongue and allowing it to absorb. This can be quite painful due to the high proof alcohol. Instead, take a shot glass and add a dropper full of the Green Dragon. Take that and swish it in your mouth for as long as you can before swallowing. The effects can be felt in as little as 20 minutes, but may take longer depending on the person. I suggest waiting at least a couple of hours before consuming more cannabis until you are accustomed to the effects. If you are not finding the relief you are looking for, you can always reduce the tincture another 1/2 oz. and increase the potency. Once you find your personal preference, make a note of it for future use.