If you live in a state where recreational and/or medical cannabis is legal, then you’re bound to have encountered a variety of cannabis tinctures at your local recreational and/or medical marijuana dispensary, or at the very least–you’ve probably heard of people using them.
This article is for those of you who are either new cannabis users and are unfamiliar with the seemingly countless cannabis products, such as THC tinctures, available on the market these days; or for those who are more “old-school” cannabis flower users who for years or decades have just stuck to smoking your cannabis plant matter via a joint, pipe, or bong and are wondering if these “new-fangled” tinctures are all they’re cracked up to be.
No matter where you fall on that spectrum, hopefully, this piece will help answer some of the questions you may have.
So, with all that said, let’s jump right in!
What Are Cannabis Tinctures?
While a tincture of any kind is actually solely an alcohol-based product, and an infusion is one that is made with either glycerin or oil, when it comes to THC and THC-free, such as CBD, tinctures, the term “tincture” is used interchangeably to describe the two similar yet slightly different liquid products.
Cannabis and hemp plant-based tinctures are made by soaking marijuana flower in one of the three solvents mentioned above, be it food-grade alcohol, oil, or glycerin, for several days. Doing so separates the terpenes, cannabinoids, and other beneficial properties from the cannabis plant material. As a result, these plant compounds interfuse with the base liquid, while the cannabis plant matter is strained out.
The resulting product is a THC (or CBD etc.) tincture that is ready for sublingual, aka “under the tongue,” consumption, which is to say–it is not meant to be vaped, smoked, dabbed, or consumed in the way that you would with an edible.
Generally speaking, in places where marijuana usage is legal, tinctures are sold on the adult-use market in 1 fl. oz. glass bottles with droppers, and can contain more than 100 mg of THC, because they are not categorized as food.
What are the Benefits of Cannabis Tinctures?
Before getting into the benefits of tinctures, note that for the purpose of this piece, while there are a wide variety of tinctures available with some that contain CBD, CBN, CBG, CBDA, etc., and any combo of these along with and without THC, for the purpose of simplicity, I’ll just be talking about tinctures that predominantly contain THC for the remainder of this article.
While tinctures may lack the “glamour” of rolling a joint or noshing on a cannabis edible, they’re pretty much one of the easiest ways to use and ingest marijuana.
However, simplicity is only one of the many reasons why tinctures continue growing in popularity among medical and recreational users.
Since tinctures are taken sublingually, that means there are none of the attention-grabbing odors or smoky visuals that come from smoking cannabis nor are there the same kind of non-discrete vapors that come from vaping that can attract unwanted attention. In addition, since tincture bottles are small, they can be conveniently stashed in your pocket, bag, purse, etc. Plus, they can also be tightly screwed shut and safely stored far out of reach when your sibling’s kids come over to visit.
Tinctures come in bottles with dropper tops, and the dropper itself makes it possible for you to do exact and precise dosing down to the milliliter, which means you can’t “accidentally” consume too much as can easily happen with inhalables and edibles. Furthermore, once you’ve figured out just how much you need to take of a particular brand for you to feel its effects, you can then always administer consistent doses by always filling your dropper to however many milligrams works best for you.
Due to the fact that tinctures are taken sublingually, all the good cannabinoids are actually able to absorb into your bloodstream much more quickly than edibles, which gives them a much faster onset time of approximately 15-30 minutes.
Since tinctures are legally permitted to contain more than the 100 mg that edibles are in the majority of legal markets in the U.S., a single bottle should last you much longer than a package of gummies etc. In addition, since most THC tinctures are made with an alcohol base the cannabis compounds are then preserved and have the potential to stay fresh and potent for several years if they are properly stored in a cool, dark spot. As such tinctures have a much longer shelf life than regular edibles or cured flowers do.
Medical users are able to get some much-deserved pain relief in a much shorter amount of time thanks to the fact that THC tinctures are able to deliver the benefits of cannabis more quickly than other forms of usage. Plus, as the much gentler and healthier alternative to smoking weed for pain management, tinctures are a fantastic option for patients who either cannot or do not want to deal with the potentially harsh smoke that comes from combusting medical marijuana or for those who are in such a severe type of pain that eating a gummy or brownie, etc. is too difficult or painful.
How to Use Your THC Tincture
As mentioned in the section above, tinctures are the easiest ways for cannabis consumers to use marijuana.
Consumption Method via Food/Drink
While there are several ways you can actually take them such as by adding some drops to a food item(s) or adding some to your cannabis weed tea recipe, the fastest and most effective way is to use the sublingual method. This is because, when you add a tincture of cannabinoids to your food or drink it works like an edible where it has first to be processed in your digestive tract and its onset of effects can take more like 30-60 minutes to hit. However, one of the reasons that some prefer to add their tincture to their food or drink is that the biggest benefit to doing so is that its recreational and medicinal effects tend to last longer than doing so via the more traditional sublingual application.
This is the most common method for taking a tincture. It’s incredibly easy as it involves just one step–well, three steps if you count unscrewing the dropper and filling it with your ideal dose.
All you do is drop the tincture under your tongue and “holding” it under your tongue for as long as possible. (Most tinctures recommend a minimum of holding it for at least 30-45 seconds.)
As already discussed, doing so allows for a much faster absorption of cannabis into your bloodstream, thereby delivering its beneficial effects to you much more quickly than other forms of inhaling or ingesting marijuana.
When it comes to picking out the tincture that’s right for you and how much to take, while some of this is going to be trial by error if you’re new to using tinctures, the general rule of thumb is to always start off conservatively when using a new tincture, and then adjust as needed until you’ve figured out what an effective dose is for you, your body type, and tolerance level.
In addition, most tinctures that you purchase from a dispensary will have a tincture dosage guide printed on the bottle or packaging, which is provided to give you what the maker considers to be a good average dose. If there isn’t a dosage guide for some reason, then ask your budtender, as one of their many jobs is knowing the products that they sell and being able to speak knowledgeably about them.