One of the many opportunities presented by legalization is that which enables patients and recreational users to create their own “product” at home using flower, shake, trim, leaf, kief, concentrates, etc. After much experimentation with edibles and other home concoctions, I have finally found my ideal product: marijuana caps (aka maricaps, maripills).
There are many reasons to create one’s own product at home. Edibles, tinctures, concentrates, gel caps and other kinds of products can be made in one’s own kitchen at a much lower cost than those sold in dispensaries. There may be some one-time upfront costs, but they are recouped in short order. Using herb as raw material to create home cannabis products also allows the user to find the optimal combination of THC, cannabinoids, and terpenes to meet his or her specific needs.
In my search for a homemade product that didn’t require too much prep time or include a ton of extra ingredients, I recalled a Neil Young bootleg I have in which Neil talks the audience through the preparation of “honey slides.” Honey Slides are simple to make: Melt ½ tablespoon or so of butter at low heat in a small frying pan. When butter is melted and hot, add about a gram and a half of ground flower and cook for five minutes or so, maintaining the low heat. It may bubble a little bit. This is ok if only a few air bubbles are escaping, but do not let your material burn. If you see it start to turn brown, take it off the heat immediately. Color should be dark green. Turn off heat and move pan to let it cool. After a few minutes, when cool, add 2 tablespoons of raw, unfiltered honey, to the pan and stir. Then get a jelly jar with a tight fitting lid (if you wish to save the slide for later) or a drinking glass, and use a rubber spatula to scrape the honey-butter-cannabis concoction into said vessel. Add one more tablespoon of honey and then either seal the jar and store in a dark, cool, dry place or in the fridge or drink up. Honey slides pack an incredible punch, taste pretty good (especially if the honey has wildflower or orange blossom in it), are quick to take effect, and don’t fill you up.
But then I happened upon this great little Ed Rosenthal book called Ask Ed: Marijuana Gold – Trash to Stash and learned about homemade maricaps. Although published over 15 years ago, Ed’s book is still very relevant. Ed Rosenthal is a very interesting character and “Ask Ed” was the name of a column he wrote in the magazine he co-founded, High Times. Trash to Stash provides excellent information about concentrates, edibles, tinctures and “maripills” and how to make them at home. Ed also gives a great overview of how to prepare herb – especially trim, leaf and shake – for use a variety of products.
The most important thing I learned from “Ask Ed” is how and why to decarboxylate cannabis prior to cooking with it. Cannabis needs to be potentiated before it is ingested because there are some THC-A molecules amongst all the THC molecules that are unable to release their full THC content due to the presence of other elements. Decarboxylation corrects the defect in the THC-A molecule so that all the THC present can be infused with maximum potency into whatever product is being made. There are devices that can do this quickly and efficiently that cost at least a few hundred dollars. Or there’s the average person’s method: putting the cannabis on parchment paper on a baking sheet in an oven at 225 degrees for 50 minutes. When done, the toasted flower will yield a much more potent product.
The second most important takeaway from Trash to Stash was learning that viable, potent marijuana capsules can be made at home, and are extremely effective and cost beneficial. In my search for the ultimate retail edible, I had come across THC capsules and later RSO (Rick Simpson Oil) caps, which were convenient and fairly inexpensive, but which did not deliver the needed dosage. Ed’s recipe is fairly simple: Remove all wooden stems and pieces from your herb and break it up a little, decarboxylate your product (see above), let it cool. After cooling, put the potentiated herb in a coffee grinder and ground to the finest powder possible. Then there are a few variables, which you’ll have to determine on your own. One is the type and amount of oil to use. I use coconut because it absorbs THC better than other oils (though it is higher in cholesterol). So far I have been successful with about one-third-tablespoon of coconut oil per 3 ½ grams of powder. The main idea is to make sure the consistency of the mixture is like wet sand or only enough oil to bind the powder together. Too much oil makes it much more challenging to fill the caps and a much bigger mess, so best to start with a little less oil than you think you’ll need and then add more if necessary. You can also hold some extra powder on the side to add to the mix if too oily.
Ed says to heat the oil in a small saucepan until the temp reaches 200 degrees, but even with a candy thermometer, it is hard to tell the precise temperature. Lacking a reliable thermometer, it might be better to heat the oil to a point you know is hot, put the powder in and then let it cook at low heat for about 5 minutes. It may bubble, but it shouldn’t cook. Again, the herb should end up dark green but not brown.
The oil infused powder must now cool to room temperature, after which it can be scraped into a small bowl. Next set your size “0” caps up in a handy capping machine (both are available at The Vitamin Shoppe) and begin the not too tasking job of filling them. My cap machine allows me to fill 24 at a time. You do have to scrape the oiled powder back and forth across the machine and use a tamper to make sure all the caps are filled to capacity, but it is pretty painless. Filled caps contain about one-third of a gram (about 300mg) of THC and pack a serious punch. They do take longer to kick in than most edibles, so you have to plan ahead and be patient. But when they hit, they plateau for a long time, keeping you in a consistent state of elevation for a good two to three hours (depending on how much food is in your stomach and other factors).
Caps should be stored in a dark glass jar with a tight lid, away from light and heat. Even better to keep the jar in the fridge. Experimenting will give you a better sense of how many caps you can make from different amounts of cannabis. So far I have averaged about 60 caps per ounce of flower.