Looking for a quick and easy way to get the THC you need? Skip the smoke and go straight for the pill. THC pills, that is.
No more tell-tale smell. No more coughing and hacking. Just the wondrous benefits of THC without all the drawbacks. That’s great news for your lungs and your health overall because you won’t be inhaling any strange substances. Just pop a pill and off you go. What could be simpler?
But before you start swallowing THC pills like candy (don’t do that), you ought to know a little about what’s inside and what makes them better than other delivery methods. So that’s what we’re going to discuss in this article. We’ll start with the most basic fact you need to know about THC pills.
Weed comes in a lot of different forms: Flower, pre-rolls, waxes, shatters, and hashish, to name a few. While most cannabis customers and patients prefer their weed in inhalable or edible forms, some folks go with another type: THC pills.
Technically, there are two kinds of THC-infused pills. The first kind includes capsules filled with cannabis oil. These weed oil pills are often provided by medical dispensaries, and they’re made with raw cannabis extracts pulled directly from the plant. Most patients who rely on weed oil pills take them to get large doses of THC, which cancer and AIDS patients require for a therapeutic effect. These sorts of THC pills are not what we’ll be going over today.
The second kind of THC pill, which we will review here, contains dronabinol. For the uninitiated, dronabinol is a fancy name for “THC made in a lab.” It’s nearly chemically identical to the THC found in weed, except it’s not extracted from cannabis. Instead, chemists mix a bunch of chemicals together to generate dronabinol. And since dronabinol doesn’t come from the plant, pharmaceutical companies can circumvent Schedule I restrictions to manufacture, distribute, and sell it.
Tetrahydrocannabinol, or THC for short, is the psychoactive ingredient in marijuana that makes you feel euphoric and high. THC exists in raw cannabis plants as the non-psychoactive THCA, which won’t get you high until you add heat to decarboxylate it.
You can pop your bud in the oven, set in on fire, or even hold it under a magnifying glass in the hot sun for a while. Just be sure to inhale the smoke on those last two.
If you’re going to use your bud in something else (like an edible or a pill), we suggest going the hot-oven route. Pretty much every other method of decarboxylation will destroy your ganja in the process. You don’t want that now, do you?
Once your grass is decarboxylated, you’re ready to think about making your own THC pills.
What Are THC Pills?
THC pills are made from extracted natural cannabinoids suspended in a fatty oil. Cram all that canna-goodness in a gelatin capsule, and you’ve got yourself a THC pill.
Even though THC pills are pretty simple in theory, there’s still a lot of confusion in practice. That’s because many people also refer to Marinol and Dronabinol (the legal synthetic versions of THC) as THC pills as well.
Because of the controversy surrounding THC pills, choosing the right chill pill can be a bit stressful if you’re new to the cannabis game. Never fear! We’ll help you understand how popping synthetic THC pills differs from smoking wonderful weed. That way, you’ll understand the advantages and potential pitfalls of putting your pot in a pill vs a pipe, vape pen, or dab rig.
In the next few sections, we’ll break down the scientific logic behind our preference for homemade organic marijuana THC pills over the synthetic, laboratory-made marinol and dronabinol THC pills.
We’ll even wrap things up with a few tips on how to make your own custom THC chill pills at home!
The Truth About Marinol
Dronabinol is the active artificial THC-like ingredient in the prescription brand-name drug Marinol, which is given in pill form to AIDS and cancer patients for pain and nausea when all other alternatives have failed.
Marinol has proven to create a similar high, which has been shown to take effect slower but outlast the pain-relieving effects of a joint of combusted cannabis. But Marinol is not always a perfect alternative. Here’s why.
Adverse Side Effects Of Marinol
Feeling high, dizziness, confusion, or sleepiness, according to the Marinol website. The National Library of Medicine (NLM) also lists weakness, stomach pain, nausea, vomiting, memory loss, and hallucinations.
About one-third of Marinol patients reportedly experience adverse Marinol side effects of drowsiness, dizziness, confusion, anxiety, changes in mood, muddled thinking, perceptual difficulties, coordination impairment, irritability, and depression from anywhere between four to six hours, according to the National Organization for the Reform of Marijuana Laws (NORML).
Marinol can give patients a marijuana overdose even more severe than the one that NY Times Columnist Maureen Dowd had when she “overdowded” by eating too much weed edible.
And in case you’re wondering what “overdowd” means, it’s a slang portmanteau of the words “over” (as in overdose) and “dowd” (the last name of journalist Maureen Dowd).
Some years ago, while writing a piece on the burgeoning marijuana industry in Colorado, Ms. Dowd consumed too much of a cannabis-infused candy bar — despite prior warnings — and went on a really bad trip.
She wrote about it in her column, but the event still earned her the dubious honor of having a semi-derogatory, completely mocking word “named” after her. But enough of the history lesson. Let’s get back to the topic at hand.
Marinol, much like natural THCA in cannabis plants, transforms into a completely unique THC compound called 11-hydroxy-THC. This is why Marinol, much like natural THC Pills and weed edibles, is stronger than the typical Delta-9-THC compound you create from combusting or vaping cannabis.
THC pills and Marinol can take anywhere from 45 minutes to two hours to hit you and are often felt four or five times stronger compared to combusted and inhaled Delta-9-THC, just like a weed edible.
Researchers have argued that doctors have just as difficult a time prescribing adequate and safe doses of Marinol as they do getting the THC dosing of edible cannabis correct due to a lack of adequate data. This lack of data-driven research is in part due to the Drug Enforcement Agency’s position on pot as a drug with no known medicinal value.
Marinol, the legal alternative to medical marijuana, is even more dangerous to drive on than a weed edible, let alone combusted cannabis (contrary to what Businessweek writes) because Marinol completely lacks the sobering anti-psychoactive qualities as well as all of the health benefits of cannabidiol or CBD.
According to the NLM, dronabinol, the active ingredient in Marinol, may also be habit-forming, leading to abnormal drug-seeking behavior with withdrawal symptoms, specifically including irritability, trouble sleeping, restlessness, hot flashes, and diarrhea if you suddenly stop taking it. Cannabis is not known to foster adverse drug-seeking behavior, unlike Marinol.
Popping THC Pills VS Smoking Pot
Based on findings from a landmark 2013 study in The Journal of Neuropsychopharmacology, Businessweek was able to conclude that legalizing cannabis in its natural smokeable form is unnecessary because it is widely (yet incorrectly) assumed that smoking cannabis is every bit as dangerous a cancerous health risk as is smoking nicotine cigarettes.
Leafly argues that THC pills are a more comfortable, convenient, and familiar option than the more traditional method of cannabis combustion. Cannabis and Nicotine to be clear, however, are not equally carcinogenic, and cannabis smoke has never been definitively linked to cancers associated with tobacco use in humans.
The stereotypes that people associate with smoking prevent many potential patients from understanding how smoking or vaporizing cannabis gives severely nauseated patients instantaneous awareness of pain relief.
This rapid onset of combusted or vaporized cannabis is the key advantage of these methods, as it provides the patient greater control to self-adjust the dose they need for pain relief by backing off and saving part of a dose for a later session or by taking additional puffs without fear of an 11-Hydroxy-THC overdose that taking too many THC pills can give you.
The major advantage of THC pills is that they are much more powerful and will last much longer than traditionally smoked or vaped pot if you can afford the patience for the 11-Hydroxy-THC to begin acting on your symptoms from your liver, giving you a groovy body high.
THC pills don’t require you to learn how to smoke, they’re more portable, and they don’t have that same unmistakable overpowering sweet smell, thus making them much more discreet than the traditional method of combusting cannabis.
We advocate the patient’s right to choose as well as experiment with their preferred method of smoking, vaporizing, dabbing, or ingesting their cannabis more so than we advocate any one method over any other. We strongly advocate utilizing a variety of cannabis consumption methods as well. We specifically suggest smoking, vaping, or dabbing for instantaneous relief and THC pills for longer-term relief.
A cancer patient suffering from acute nausea would probably want to take a THC pill right after smoking or vaporizing for an ideal combination of powerful fast-acting and long-term relief. A patient may enjoy the psychologically calming ritual of packing a pipe, also known as “packing a bowl” or perhaps rolling a joint for additional puffs as needed while waiting for the 11-Hydroxy-THC to kick in once it’s been eaten.
Extra hits off of a joint, pipe, or vape pen will calm the anxious body high that 11-Hydroxy-THC can cause should the dosage in your THC pill be too strong. Extra cannabis can supplement your THC pill if it’s not strong enough as well.
THC pills may be ideal for children who are not yet old enough to understand how to hit a dab rig or clear the chamber of a killer bong hit. Charlotte Figi is just such an example. Charlotte suffered from Dravet’s Syndrome and experienced over 300 seizures a week. A cannabis oil extracted from a strain now known as Charlotte’s Web changed all that.
Miss Figi now experiences only two or three seizures A MONTH thanks to the anticonvulsant effects of the marijuana plant.
We do recommend always using organic marijuana as your safest and healthiest option compared to other growing methods, no matter how you chose to get your THC into your endocannabinoid system!
The Real Costs
The other major advantage of real marijuana is that it will probably cost you less to smoke it than it will to take Marinol. NORML estimates that Marinol can cost anywhere between $200 – $800 out of pocket to very sick people depending on the dosage size.
WebMD even estimates that the standard dose of dronabinol costs around $678 a month compared to $514 a month to smoke two marijuana joints a day. A dronabinol prescription can cost you as little as $15 per month if you are lucky enough to have insurance.
Still, the ironically higher costs of legal dronabinol compared to black market cannabis is why many doctors don’t bother to recommend dronabinol and why many potential patients never bother to ask for or even try it, according to NORML.
Ground decarboxylated flower
Some THC pills contain ground-up decarboxylated flower for oral ingestion. Cannabis flower requires decarboxylation for its THCA to become active THC, which is what allows patients to tap into cannabis’ benefits in a non-combusting way.
Crystalline is a powdered substance visually like table salt or sugar. Crystalline capsules contain nearly 100% pure powdered cannabinoids, often in THCA or CBDA-only formulas that allow patients to ingest their cannabis medication without the intoxicating effects associated with THC. The extraction process used to create crystalline strips cannabis of excess terpenes and other plant chemicals to leave only the desired molecule behind.
Distillate is a runny liquid that is similar to crystalline in that a distillation process is used to produce it, but its purity can run anywhere from 85% to 95% as the cannabis plant’s terpenes are often reintroduced into the final product.
Distillate’s cannabinoids are decarboxylated and are capable of providing users with some of the intoxicating effects associated with inhaled cannabis or ingesting edibles containing THC. Typically, distillate is devoid of a plant’s fats and waxes, thereby providing patients with refined THC or CBD in precisely dosed capsules without additives.
Some cannabis capsules contain one variety of cannabinoid, in which case patients can find them labeled as “CBD” or “THC.” These varieties do not contain any of the other medicinally beneficial cannabinoids or terpenes.
Capsules that contain mixed percentages of THC and CBD work to enhance the medicinal effects and modulate the psychoactive effects to meet patients’ individual needs. Capsules that include CBD can reduce users’ blood pressure response to stress, among other medical benefits. CBD-infused capsules deliver relief to patients while mitigating THC’s potentially adverse side effects, making the medication more tolerable to new users.
Cannabis capsules labeled as “full spectrum” include all of the cannabis plant’s available biomolecules — terpenes, cannabinoids, and everything in between. Full-spectrum cannabis capsules can contain decarboxylated flower or infused-oil bases and allow patients to feel the effects of cannabis without any additives.
Additional nutraceuticals are often added to capsules to tailor their effects. Additives such ginkgo root, astragalus, or maca root generate energy; spirulina, chlorella, or turmeric add nutritional value; and powdered valerian root, skullcap, lemon balm, or hop flower deliver sedative effects.
Most capsule shells fall into one of three categories: gelatin, hypromellose, and pullulan. Gelatin capsules are made from animal byproducts derived from beef, while vegetarian options hypromellose and pullulan are made from non-toxic plant derivatives and fungal fermentation, respectively.