Ask Cheri: Is Decarbing Always Necessary When Cooking with Marijuana 

By  Cheri Sicard

Dear Cheri,

My flower was dry and ground into powder. I did not decarb it. Is decarbing always necessary when I plan to bake with the marijuana anyway?  Can I use the powder in the cookies raw and as they bake will it activate the goodness of the powder?

Thank you in advance Cheri.


Good question Colleen, especially since a lot of people do not realize the raw cannabis plant contains no THC at all. It does contain THC-A (or THC-acid). It takes the process of adding heat or decarboxylation to make the chemical reaction that converts THC-A to THC.  Is decarbing always necessary? No.  But is it desirable? Yes!

For maximum psychoactive potency you should decarboxylate first.  Sure, it will decarb somewhat while baking.  But lab tests show that the process of baking a recipe will leave a lot of THC unconverted.  Even when making long, slow cooking infusions, decarbing first will up the percentage of THC extracted.  If you are cooking with kief, hash, and hash oils you will definitely need to decarboxylate first.

To decarboxylate, simply put your leaf material on a baking sheet or your concentrates in an ovenproof dish, cover with foil, and heat for about 1 hour at 240 degrees F. Once decarboxylated you are ready to make infusions or cook directly with the material.

It's worthy of note, however, that marijuana still has plenty of medicinal effects,even it its undecarbed state, so it depends on what you are going for.  But to activate as much THC and CBD as possible, you will want to take the extra step to decarb.

As to making flour -- finely ground dry marijuana you stir into recipes, this is not my favorite way to infuse foods as it often comes with the unwanted "side effects" of funky flavors and textures.  Of course if you have it, you should use it.  Cookies would not be my first choice.  For best results, instead of baked goods, try in of the recipes in my Cooking with Buds tutorial, one ones like them, instead.  ,Personally, I like to keep ultra fine grinding to a minimum as much as possible.

Hope this helps,


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  • Cheri, concerning decarbing your weed, I have tried to read everything I can find on the subject, including a wife who is a pharmacist and haven’t found a pat answer. Isn’t it correct that if I decarb too long the potency will decrease? If that is true, wouldn’t it also be true that while using decarbed weed while infusing in oil, and cooking it at 170 degrees for 6-8 hours, would reduce the potency? Would using un-decarbed weed actually decarb during this long heat cycle when infusing? When I do infuse with un decarbed weed, it bubbles for a number of hours, eventually stopping. I’ve just started testing my oil but haven’t done enough cycles to draw a conclusion. Your thought?

    • Before answering, when you say “oil” what do you mean? Making FECO or RSO is very different than making an infused cooking oil. The bubbling comment has me confused. The only bubbling would likely be from simmering. At 170 degrees you are not going to lose much if any, it is higher temperatures that matter more. I remember High Times doing some testing a while back though that showed decarbing first, even when making a long slow cooking infusion, yielded higher potency, likewise I decarb first now. However when I first started cooking with cannabis I didn’t and still made potent oils and butters. I have not been able to lab test to verify the differences, if any, but hope to do so soon. And remember the tests are only as credible as the lab doing the testing and the technician doing the test. It is quite complex and home testing at this point is just not accurate.

  • I used coconut oil and bud in a crockpot on warm for 4 hours, cool overnight, then another 4 hours. I do not decarb so I’m guessing that’s why my thca is high and almost zilch on CBD. I used a high CBD strain (cannatonic). Do you think I could put the oil back in the crockpot on low or even high? Can you decarb while in oil at a high temp? Thanks so much….

    • It will decarb a good amount while cooking so you should be OK. You are likely not feeling the THC as this is a high CBD strain and CBD counters the effects of THC, so that’s likely why you are not feeling the THC.

  • A little confused here! We decarb ground up weed in a mason jar in boiling water for an hour then let the weed steep with butter/oil and a little water on a Crock-Pot for at least another hour. Is this redundant?

  • When I make coconut butter, I usually let it boil in a rice cooker for 2 – 3 hours, then put it on “keep warm” for an entire day (24 hours). I do not decarb first in an over; however, since boiling occurs at 212 F and the “keep warm” setting is just below that (I’m guessing around 210 F or something), I was wondering if decarbing in an oven first is necessary.

    My butter seems very potent. Usually I use about 1 ounce of “premium” shake with 1.5 cups of coconut oil.

    Anyway, my question is:

    Would it be more potent if I decarbed in an oven first? If so, what temperature do you recommend?


    • Without a lab test it is impossible to know for sure. I am guessing the 24 hours on warm might do the trick and if you are happy with the potency that’s what really matters. Even if some THC-A is left unconverted to THC, the THC-A still gives important medicinal benefits. That said, I have seen lab tests that show decarbing first increases potency even in long slow cooking (but they were not doing 24 hours on warm). You can always do an experiment and decarb before your next batch and see if you notice any difference. If not, then if it’s not broke don’t fix it.

    • Please.
      How do you make your coconut butter in a rice cooker?
      Like how much of everything and such.
      I have wanted to make butter for a long time but the whole process scares me. Rice cooker, I can handle.

  • I decarbed my kief and made was very potent the only problem was you could see the small kief particles do I get that to dissolve to use in drinks..and also I am interested in your classes on how to make tinctures if you teach that..thanks

  • I decarbed but I totally forgot to let cool afterwards. I normally throw it in the freezer for about 10 minutes. Did I just mess up??

  • Hi Cheri, I made oil from a bag of common cheap stuff by just putting it in isopropyl alcohol for 2 days and then strain it into a pan and boil off the alcohol for 20 minutes on an electric stove. I ended up with a thick black sludge that I added some canola oil to and just took an eyedropper full orally, tasted disgusting but kicked like a mule. I didn’t decarb at all and the high lasted for 8 hours and I was still lethargic for half of the next day (probably a high cbd count), did the boiling off of the isopropyl alcohol decarb it or is it possible that the drying process did the trick. The cheap stuff seems so old and dry I’m scared I’ll set it alight trying to decarb it in the oven

    • WAIT! STOP! NEVER NEVER NEVER INGEST ISOPROPYL ALCOHOL. That is for EXTERNAL USE ONLY! THrow that out or use it as a topical but do not eat it. Food grade alcohol only. That is poison!

  • I simply roughly broke up the herb and put it in a mason jar with the olive oil, then boiled the jar for 3 hours. I totally forgot to decarb it! How bad if it all is my infusion? Is it actually infused at all?

    • It should be just fine. Would you have extracted a bit more potency if you decarbed first? Probably. That said after 3 hours a lot of it (most of it) has decarbed in the process of infusing. So you should be good. Prior to 10 years or so ago nobody knew much about decarbing at all and we still made potent edibles. SO decarbing will help you extract maximum potency but you should have decarbed a lot in the infusion and more will happen if you cook or bake with the oil.

  • I dry (decarb)my plants in the oven for one hour at 2:40 then I put the plant material in a pan cover it with oil and put it in the oven at 190 for an hour is that sufficient or should I do more

    • I have never infused in the oven like that, but there is no reason that would not work well. In theory that is long enough, I would probably give it a little more to be sure. I have not tested it personally abut I have seen lab tests that show cannabis infuses quickly. There certainly is not a need for the long cooks I was taught when I first learned to cook with cannabis. Some of the OGs would infuse for 24 hours or more! That is one area of cannabis cooking that has evolved.

  • so i was wondering if its better too quick cool your decarbed weed or just completely cool it off before infusion? i have a quick cool shelf in my freezer just wondering if that would hurt the decarb if i cool it like that?

  • Dear Cheri, thanks a lot for the clear explanations about this topic!
    I have two questions: 1) Can I decarb my stuff and infuse/bake it in a separate moments or the two processes must be done consequently in order to have success? I’m wondering if the weed, once decarboxilated, remains in that way or it loses its potencial over time.
    2) You say that is preferable to decarboxilate EVEN before long infusions; in my case I like to prepare some weed tea with butter/whole milk, simmering for 15/20 min. In doing so, I never decarb before. How much potencial do I lost in not decarbing before infusing?


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