This is the second in a series of interviews with Mimi Peleg, who for six years was trainer-in-chief at MECHKAR, the medical cannabis distribution program in Israel. Mimi has instructed an estimated 3,000 people to smoke, vaporize or ingest cannabis for medical conditions ranging from PTSD to neuropathic pain. That qualifies her as the person who has taught more people to use cannabis than anyone else on earth. Today, Mimi lives in Santa Cruz, CA where she is the “cannabis lifestyle manager” at the Green Acres dispensary.
FYI: Patients in Israel pay $100 a month for 20g (about 2/3 of an ounce). That’s not a lot of product, so Mimi has read the latest research and consulted with top scientists in the US and Israel to help patients maximize their meds.
Bake It to Boost It
When supply is limited or money is tight, the first rule of making your weed go further is: decarboxylate (heat) it. This does not work for smoking, it’s for ingesting, as it unleashes some of the THC stored in the plant and speeds it into the bloodstream.
Follow this recipe:
Grind or break apart some weed — it doesn’t have to be prime bud — and lay it in a single layer on a cookie sheet.
Use an oven thermometer to get an accurate reading of the interior of your oven and set it to 225 degrees F (100 degrees C) — no higher. If you’re aiming to enhance your consciousness, cook cannabis for 2.5 hours— or until the leaf turns a golden medium brown color. This will convert the acid on the plant to THC.
If you’re using CBD (the less psychoactive variety that’s used to treat inflammation, nausea, seizures and depression) bake it for four hours. (NOTE: This cooking is longer than most online recipes call for, but Dr. Jeffrey Raber, a chemist and owner of the Wercshop testing laboratory in Los Angeles, says this length of time ensures all active cannabinoids are extracted.)
Why the cooking time difference? Different cannabinoids decarb at different heat exposures.
And why the low temperature? Because lower temperatures burn away fewer terpenes and these pharmaceutical-grade scent molecules are crucial to directing the high and the healing. Terpenes are also the reason that strains have so many diverse tastes and smells: pine, berry, black pepper, clove, lavender, and lemon, among them. Not only do they pack a mighty odor, but each has different medicinal qualities and can affect different moods: Linalool (the essential oil in lavender) relieves stress and encourages relaxation. Pinene (pine) or limonene (lemon) are anti-microbial and promote focus, for example.
The stronger, smarter brownie
Once your cannabis has cooked —it should be crumbly — remove the baking sheet and allow it to cool. Grind it to a coarse consistency, and next decide what you’re going to do with it.
· Mix ¼ tsp with yogurt. It’s stronger and smarter than a brownie. You can more easily control the dose, and because you’ve heated it to only 225 F (as opposed to 350 F required for a brownie) you’ve preserved many more terpenes.
· Soak cannabis in 70% ethanol (grain alcohol) in a mason jar to create a tincture. You’ll have to play with dosages to judge effects. To make a powerful tincture the proportions are 10 parts alcohol to 1 part cannabis, but remember, depending on your condition or desired outcome, stronger is not always better. Soak for 30 days.
· Heat 1 cup decarbed cannabis in three ounces coconut oil and 1 ounce of beeswax to make a really amazing salve that alleviates a number of conditions including aches and pains, pimples, and muscle cramps. Simmer (don’t boil) for 30 minutes then strain through a cheesecloth to remove plant matter. Remove from heat and let harden.
“Shops and growers don’t want you to know about this [decarboxylation technique] because you’ll buy half their product,” says Timothy Bond, “It’s powerful, versatile and economical.” Nor do they want you know that you’re best to follow your nose, not your eyes, when it comes to selecting the best bud for you. “I watch customers examine flowers under big magnifying glasses all day long but I don’t think you should look for expensive reserves or the biggest buds. They’re marketing gimmicks. Your nose is the best indicator of what your body is lacking. The one with the highest THC doesn’t mean it’s balanced or that it’s going feel good on you.”
But what if everything smells so good?
“Then look at the trichomes [the tiny white oil sacs that you can see under magnification],” he says, “but don’t necessarily go for the biggest buds. The big buds spend more time making leaf, not oil. The outer and inner layers of the bud have the most trichomes. The leaves in the middle have fewer. So smaller buds have a greater ratio of outer to inner.”