Is it necessary to decarboxylate CBD or can I forego this step when cooking with CBD? How important is CBD decarboxylation?
You might think that CBD decarboxylation is unnecessary. After all, why would you need to decarb a strain that is not going to get you high? However, the same rules apply to CBD as THC because raw cannabis contains the acidic form of CBD, known as CBDA, just as it contains the acidic form of THC which is THC-A. And decarboxylation is the process that drops that extra molecule from the chain.
Now it’s true that neither CBD-A nor CBD should get you high, but even in THC decarboxylation, it is about more than activating the plant's psychotropic properties. Likewise decarboxylation is still important with CBD as it activates many of the plant's medicinal qualities. It also increases its bioavailability.
When consuming CBD-A, your body needs to work harder in order to break down the molecule, but with decarbed CBD your body is, in theory, able to access the compound easier and faster.
Most commercial CBD tinctures, concentrates, and isolates are already decarboxylated, so if that is all you plan to cook with, this step will not be necessary. However, in rare cases these products might not be decarbed, so check the label and if it lists high quantities of CBD-A, then you might want to decarboxylate.
If you are cooking with high CBD flowers, whether they be from cannabis or phytocannabinoid-rich hemp, you will definitely want to decarboxylate.
While the word decarboxylation might sound scary all it means in practical terms is to add enough heat to cause the chemical reaction that drops the acid from the molecule chain. For more information on how to decarboxylate CBD, see my Decarboxylation tutorial.