Decarboxylation is the process of removing a carboxyl group (a carbon atom double-bonded to an oxygen atom) from a molecule. In the cannabis world, this process occurs when a carbon atom is removed from a carboxylic acid (namely THCa, and CBDa).
There is little to no naturally occurring THC/CBD in the plant prior to decarboxylation. It is an essential process whether performed by the LP or the patient. Heating your cannabis (via vaporizing, smoking, or by cooking) will cause a chemical bond to break off of the THCa molecule and convert it to THC. The same thing occurs when CBD is formed from CBDa.
Once your cannabis has been decarboxylated it can be consumed in its present state. Any capsule or oil based products from your licensed producer have already been decarboxylated. Your non-decarboxylated herbal cannabis however must still be heated to receive the full medicinal effect. This is usually achieved by vaporization.
Part of the reason vaporizing is recommended over smoking is due to the decarboxylation process. Vaporization allows for even heating at a specific temperature. This can be important because the temperature settings on your vaporizer can allow for more efficient decarboxylation than smoking, which ultimately means you will likely use less product.
Decarboxylation of cannabis for the purpose of making edible products can be a tricky process and is not typically recommended. Instead we suggest asking your educator to help you find a product that has already been decarboxylated that you can simply add to your food.
If you have any other questions about the decarboxylation process please call our patient care centre at 888-282-7763 for further information.