As cannabis experiences a long-awaited resurgence in the U.S., many users in states where the plant is legal and accessible have begun juicing fresh, undried cannabis buds and leaves, alone or as part of a fruit-and-veggie smoothie.
Raw cannabis contains many nonpsychoactive compounds, including chlorophyll, terpenes, flavonoids and the acid forms of both delta-9-tetrahydrocannabinol (THCA) and cannabidiol-acid (CBDA). Through the process of drying and curing the buds, and when they are heated for cooking or smoking/vaporizing, these acids are removed from the molecular chains. This transforms the nonpsychoactive THCA into the “high”-inducing THC. (Neither CBDA nor CBD is psychoactive.)
Because the THC in raw cannabis is not in its psychoactive form, juicing raw leaves and flowers does not result in a “high.” Beyond that, the science of juicing is not terribly well developed; researchers have tended to focus more on the nonacid forms of these compounds.
For example, we have promising clinical data on the tumor-fighting properties of CBD. However, initial exploration into the anti-tumor capacity of CBDA showed such a “negligible” effect on tumor cells that one set of researchers at California Pacific Medical Center in San Francisco decided not to look any further into it.
This does not dim the enthusiasm of proponents of raw cannabis juicing, and the anecdotal evidence that they share can be quite compelling. Advocates share stories of serious disease put into remission, prescriptions no longer needed, enhanced vitality and healthy weight maintenance, among many other benefits. So, if you’re tempted to try canna-juicing, here are some considerations:
- It requires a significant amount of raw plant material to incorporate juiced cannabis into the diet for extended periods of time. This may not be possible for many patients, but if you are growing at home or receiving trimmed leaves from a grower, the fresh-clipped leaves and buds can be bagged and stored in the crisper for about two days.
- Freezing fresh leaves is not recommended, but fresh cannabis juice can be poured into an ice cube tray, covered tightly, then frozen. Individual cubes can be thawed out to drink or incorporate into other juice blends as needed. (Proponents suggest drinking small amounts of canna-juice throughout the day, rather than one large smoothie.)
- Use fresh leaves and buds, as close to organic as possible—no foliar sprays or heavy nutrients. Residue from foliar sprays and heavy nutrients creates a toxic burden for the liver.
- Talk to your physician or nutritionist before you begin. There are some conditions, like gallbladder or kidney problems, for which even serious proponents do not advise canna-juicing. Also, the abundance of vitamin K in the raw leaves can interfere with how the liver metabolizes some prescription drugs.
The bottom line? We know that juicing fresh leafy greens, veggies and fruits is good for our health. Adding fresh cannabis leaves and flowers to your morning smoothie won’t have the immediate therapeutic effect that more traditional methods of cannabis ingestion offer. But with minimal risk, and many possible long-term benefits, it’s well worth a try. Healthy juicing to you!