Making your own medicine

Turning cannabis from plant into medicine is actually not that hard, although you’ll need rather more weed than you get in an old-school dime bag. You will need to buy an ounce or so from a dispensary (if you’re somewhere that this is legal, and if the prices aren’t stupidly high) or grow your own. Forget going up to a shady guy in an alley; you may be ripped off, you may get busted, and you certainly won’t have a clue what kind or what strength of weed you’d get from him.

To extract cannabinoids from the plant you’ll need a few bits of equipment, but while some of the tools for doing this cost a few hundred dollars you can get by with nothing more than a regular food blender, a saucepan and a stove.

First off, before anything else, I suggest that you stop smoking cannabis, or at least cut that down (and NEVER smoke it mixed with tobacco!), for two good reasons:

  1. Burning cannabis loses a lot of the cannabinoids that you want to get inside you. You’ll get some, but a good 50% or so will be lost to combustion.
  2. Inhaling any kind of smoke is not a good idea, especially if you’re already not well. Cannabis has been shown to counteract some of the harm caused by inhaling smoke (researchers found less damage than expected when conducting trials) but it’s still a negative thing overall. (Crude analogy: seatbelts and airbags will protect you to an extent in a crash, but the real way to be safe is not crash in the first place.)

Okay, now some info to help you understand the why as well as the how:

Cannabinoids are found in the plant oils. These are most concentrated in the flowers of the female plant – the buds – but they are also found in reasonable concentrations in the smaller leaves around the buds and to a lesser but still worthwhile level in much of the rest of the plant. You can use trimmings and weed ‘waste’ that smokers generally don’t want, and even male plants will have SOME medicinal goodness. But for the fullest potency get mainly bud and the surrounding small leaves.

Once you have the plant material (generic term for whatever kind of cannabis you managed to grow or buy) what you need to do is use a process that gets the oils from the plant into a form that you can store and dose easily.

The three methods are:

All three methods will produce cannabinoid-rich, ‘Full Extract Cannabis Oil’, also known as FECO. Technically this is regarded as being different from Rick Simpson Oil, also known as RSO, as the RSO process uses hazardous solvents that are best avoided. Okay, both are cannabis oil extracts, but stick to solvents that aren’t inherently full-blown poisons please!

With both the Cannolator and GOM methods you’ll be using very high proof alcohol to strip the oils from the plant. It’s safe to do but please heed this warning: do NOT use isopropyl alcohol! That is poisonous and can seriously harm you! Similarly, don’t use ‘denatured’ ethyl alcohol as this has been poisoned to prevent people drinking it. The Everclear brand is a good option, or search online for more generic options.

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