Cannabis, also known as marijuana or weed, is a mind-altering drug that comes from either the Cannabis sativa or Cannabis indica plant
These plants have been widely used for centuries for both medicinal and recreational use.
While many people choose to smoke or vape cannabis, edibles have grown in popularity. These edibles often contain cannabutter — a cannabis-infused butter that can be purchased at a local cannabis dispensary or made at home.
Still, keep in mind that cannabis is illegal in many states and countries, so always check with your local government before using it or related products.
This article reviews cannabutter, including its main uses, how to make it, and common side effects.
What is cannabutter?
As the name implies, cannabutter is a combination of cannabis and butter.
It’s most commonly used to make cannabis edibles, particularly baked goods like cookies and brownies.
Before buying or making cannabutter, you should decide what effects you’re hoping to experience.
Cannabis contains two main compounds known as cannabinoids — tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) and cannabidiol (CBD). THC is a psychoactive compound that leads to a high, while CBD is not mind-altering
Depending on its intended use, cannabutter may contain only CBD or both CBD and THC.
Cannabutter is cannabis-infused butter. It can contain only CBD, which isn’t psychoactive, or both CBD and THC, which gives it mind-altering properties.
Cannabis offers many health benefits and is becoming more accepted as a natural treatment for various diseases and ailments.
Cannabutter is a smoke-free option and can be used in different edible cannabis products, making it a popular choice.
May alleviate cancer-related symptoms
Many cancer treatments lead to undesired symptoms like nausea, vomiting, and pain, and a lot of research focuses on natural remedies to relieve them
Cannabis has been used as a natural treatment for nausea and vomiting throughout history. In fact, its anti-nausea properties were one of its first discovered medical benefits
Cannabis contains compounds called cannabinoids. They affect your body’s endocannabinoid system, which regulates various bodily processes, including mood, memory, and appetite
While THC has been most extensively studied, it appears that other cannabinoids, such as CBD, may also help treat nausea and vomiting
However, keep in mind that excessive cannabis use can lead to the same symptoms. Therefore, it’s important to work with a healthcare professional to ensure you’re using cannabis safely and effectively
Finally, cannabis is widely prescribed to help treat cancer-related pain
Cannabutter can be incorporated into foods, making it a useful, smoke-free, edible option for people with cancer.
Sleep aid Cannabis is commonly cited as an effective sleep aid.
While the underlying mechanism needs more research, it appears that these two cannabinoids affect your body’s natural sleep-wake cycle and decrease pain-associated insomnia
Still, there are concerns that overusing cannabis may lead to dependency as a sleep aid
More quality research is needed to better understand the relationship between cannabis and sleep.
How to make cannabis-infused butter (or ‘cannabutter’)
Butter is a delicious and versatile carrier for THC and other cannabinoids, although it isn’t the only one. You can also use coconut oil, olive oil, or any other fatty oil for your infusions. Just keep in mind, butter burns easily, so keep a close eye on your cannabutter as it cooks.
- 1 cup of butter
- 1 cup (7-10 grams) of ground cannabis, decarboxylated
The essential (and often missed) first step: Decarboxylating the cannabis
Before making your cannabutter, you’ll need to decarboxylate, or “decarb”, the cannabis flower you’re working with. Skipping this step will result in a weak or inactive finished product. Here’s why: Cannabis buds produce a non-intoxicating acidic cannabinoid called THCA. When we smoke or vaporize cannabis, the heat converts THCA into THC, the molecule that delivers euphoric effects. If preparing CBD edibles, this same process should be applied.
Some recipes may instruct you to decarb cannabis in the hot butter directly, but the less time you spend soaking the buds, the better your infused butter is going to taste. For this reason, we recommend decarbing in the oven first.
Basic cannabutter recipe
- Decarb the cannabis. Preheat your oven to 245ºF. Place cannabis buds on a non-stick, oven-safe tray. Cover the tray with parchment paper to prevent sticking. Insert the tray into the oven and set a timer for 30-40 minutes. Older, drier cannabis may require less time. (Tip: you can also set your oven to 300ºF and heat for 10 to 18 minutes, although low-and-slow is the recommended approach when decarbing to better preserve the cannabinoids.) Every 10 minutes, gently mix the buds with a light shake of the tray to expose the surface area of the buds equally.
- Grind. Grind the decarboxylated cannabis coarsely with a hand grinder.
- Melt the butter. Add 1 cup of water and 1 cup of butter into a stock pot or saucepan. Simmer on low and let the butter melt. Adding water helps to regulate the temperature and prevents the butter from scorching.
- Add the cannabis. As the butter begins to melt, add in your coarsely ground cannabis product.
- Simmer. Maintain low heat (ideally above 160ºF but never exceeding 200ºF) and let the mixture simmer for 2 to 3 hours, stirring occasionally. The mixture should never come to a full boil.
- Strain the cannabutter. Set a funnel on top of a jar and line it with cheesecloth. Once the butter has cooled off, pour it over the cheesecloth funnel and allow it to strain freely. (Tip: Squeezing the cheesecloth may push more bad-tasting plant material through).
- Refrigerate the jar of butter. If excess water forms at the bottom of the jar, you can remove the solid butter with a knife and drain the water out. (The butter will need to refrigerate for about an hour before removing the water.)
- Dose carefully. Refer to dosing information below before adding your butter to any snacks, dishes, or desserts.
Directions for slow cooker
- Grind your cannabis coarsely with a hand grinder. (Tip: A coffee grinder will finely pulverize the flower and prevent effective straining of bad-tasting plant material.)
- Set your slow cooker to low, or somewhere around 160ºF. (Tip: Avoid exceeding 200ºF to prevent burning or wasting cannabinoids. You can also add a little water to help prevent scorching.)
- Add the butter and ground cannabis. Stir occasionally.
- After about 3 hours, turn off the crockpot and wait for the butter to cool.
- Strain as above.