The good news is your stems don’t have to go to waste. Although you can’t smoke them, stems still have some surprisingly useful purposes in life. Here are a few of the most popular ways people are making good use out of their weed stems.
As you can see, the life of a weed stem can go above and beyond the time it spends in your grinder. If you want to get better about keeping your stems (given your new knowledge of their magic), we recommend that you keep a jar to collect your weed stems over time. That way, you’ll always have a fresh stash ready when you want to tackle any of these projects.
Although you may be tempted to, you should not smoke weed stems. Smoking stems from cannabis plants will not get you high due to their lack of THC. If you do decide to smoke stems, you’ll likely experience a few of the negative side effects that come with smoking, like coughing and sore throat, without the fun of a THC high.
For example, our cannabis-infused tea recipe only requires 2 teaspoons of weed stems and is ready to drink in about ten minutes. This recipe is flexible and allows you to customize with different tea flavors until you find your ideal combination.
Much like the infused butter recipe, you can decarboxylate any leftover weed stems with 7-10 grams of dried cannabis. After this process has been completed, you can infuse the cannabis and stems with coconut oil. This creates the base for many cannabis topical recipes, like lip balms and lotions.
Another excellent way to make use of your stems is by making a cannabis-infused tea. Cannatea is a good choice for when you only have a small number of stems you want to use.
Weed stems are the small, stick-like pieces that sometimes end up in the cannabis flower you buy from the dispensary. Depending on the quality of flower you bought, you may end up with a few or more stems in your haul. For example, shake bought from dispensaries tends to contain more stems than non-shake flower. Unlike the dense buds of the cannabis plant, weed stems contain very little to no THC (the main active ingredient in cannabis).
What hemp does offer is powerful cannabidiol oil, better known as CBD, extracted from the flower of the plant. For years, pain sufferers have touted its power to ease headaches, arthritis and other pain and inflammation. New research shows it has even lessened violent and potentially deadly seizures in children with a severe form of epilepsy.
That amount is minuscule. Even ridiculous, according to some hemp advocates who are pushing to increase the legal amount.
Industrial hemp grown in the United States since 2014 must limit the level of mood-altering Delta-9 tetrahydrocannabinol — a psychoactive compound better known as THC — to 0.3.
Hemp and marijuana are often confused.
Many hemp products in stores today are derived from hemp seeds, which don’t contain THC. The seeds have been called a “superfood” since they are rich in protein and omegas.
Today’s pot is much more potent than what was available decades ago. The average pot seized by law enforcement in 1995 had about 4 percent THC. Even that was 13 times the current legal amount in hemp.
Pot is much stronger.
“I’ve heard a lot of complaints from medical patients because somebody claims that a product has a high level of CBD, and it turns out that it actually doesn’t,” LaFrate says. Colorado also does not yet require testing of marijuana for contaminants. Washington, the second state to legalize recreational marijuana, does require such testing for microbial agents like E. coli, salmonella and yeast mold, and officials there rejected about 13 percent of the marijuana products offered for sale in 2014.
In the U.S., legal hurdles have long hampered research into marijuana. But as more states approve medical and even recreational marijuana, scientific inquiries have spiked, especially studies aimed at finding out what exactly is in today’s weed—and what it does to our bodies.
In Colorado, which made marijuana legal in November 2012, the latest results show that the pot lining store shelves is much more potent than the weed of 30 years ago. But the boost in power comes at a cost—modern marijuana mostly lacks the components touted as beneficial by medical marijuana advocates, and it is often contaminated with fungi, pesticides and heavy metals.
Medical and recreational marijuana use is increasingly legal—but do consumers know what they’re smoking?
Those thinking that stronger pot is always better pot might think again. Breeding for more powerful marijuana has led to the virtual absence of cannabidol (CBD), a compound being investigated for treatments to a range of ills, from anxiety and depression to schizophrenia, Huntington’s disease and Alzheimer’s. Much of the commercially available marijuana LaFrate’s lab tested packs very little of this particular cannabinoid. “A lot of the time it’s below the detection level of our equipment, or it’s there at a very low concentration that we just categorize as a trace amount,” he says. Consumers specifically seeking medical benefits from cannabis-derived oils or other products may have a tough time determining how much, if any, CBD they contain, because Colorado doesn’t currently require testing.
At the top of that list would be chemical contaminants in products such as concentrates, like the hard, amber-colored Shatter, which contains more than 90 percent THC, LaFrate suggests. Concentrates and edibles (think brownies) make up perhaps half of the current Colorado market. Their makers sometimes suggest that their chosen products are healthier than standard weed because they don’t involve frequent smoking. But some manufacturers employ potentially harmful compounds like butane to strip the plant of most everything but THC. Tests also show that marijuana plants can draw in heavy metals from the soil in which they are grown, and concentrating THC can increase the amounts of heavy metals, pesticides or other substances that end up in a product. That means regulations for their production still need to be hammered out, LaFrate says.
“It’s pretty startling just how dirty a lot of this stuff is,” LaFrate says. His team commonly found fungi and bacteria in the marijuana products they tested. But for now it’s unclear just how much marijuana growers need to clean up their product. “Like ourselves, this plant is living with bacteria that are essential to its survival. In terms of microbial contamination, it’s kind of hard to say what’s harmful and what’s not,” he adds. “So the questions become: What’s a safe threshold, and which contaminants do we need to be concerned about?”
“There’s a stereotype, a hippy kind of mentality, that leads people to assume that growers are using natural cultivation methods and growing organically,” says Andy LaFrate, founder of Charas Scientific, one of eight Colorado labs certified to test cannabis. “That’s not necessarily the case at all.” LaFrate presented his results this week at a meeting of the American Chemical Society (ACS) in Denver.