I dream of the day where you can walk into the supermarket and pick out a big, fresh bag of cannabis leaves, just like you would a bag of spinach. Eating cannabis leaves in their raw, natural, leafy state can come with a plethora of health benefits like reduced inflammation (thanks to CBDa), as well as reduced pain and insomnia (from the THCa).
Besides the countless articles that pop up when you search “eating cannabis leaves;” on google, if one were to stop and think about the vast uses of the cannabis plant it would be astounding. From hemp rope and building materials to THC and CBD extracts, its overabundance of healthy and useful attributes is plentiful. It’s so curious that the leaves are one of the most useful, yet underutilized, parts of the plant. It makes me cringe just thinking about all those trimmed cannabis fan leaves going to waste or compost when they could be thrown in with a salad or blended into an antioxidant-packed super smoothie.
In fact, Dr. William Courtney has made a name for himself by being an advocate of eating raw cannabis leaves, he even cultivated a new strain of cannabis plants for this purpose. His favorite method of consumption? Green juices. The good doctor promotes raw marijuana like a dietary supplement and believes eating or drinking raw cannabis has a host of nutritional, anti-inflammatory, and immune system boosting benefits. There are even claims that his protocol helped his wife’s Lupus go into remission. This might not be too far-fetched when you consider the leaves of the cannabis plant are full of cannabinoid acids that work with the endocannabinoid system to provide relief of symptoms like pain or inflammation, commonly associated with auto-immune disorders. The plant is also full of omega fatty acids, proteins, and essential vitamins and minerals.
Those who already use medical marijuana convincing them to drink raw cannabis for the added benefits might not be too difficult to sell. However, those who have previously steered clear of cannabis because of the psychoactive effects will be relieved to know in its raw state the leaves contain beneficial cannabinoids like THCa (which will not get you high) and doesn’t become THC until the leaves are heated (smoked or cooked).
The California Weed Blog has great in-depth articles on the amazing benefits of consuming raw cannabis leaves as well as a few good recipes to try, so go check them out! This article aims to cover a little bit more of the lesser discussed topics of consuming raw cannabis leaves.
What to Watch Out For
As we mentioned, eating raw cannabis leaves is not going to get you high, since it doesn’t have the same psychoactive effects as dried cannabis so you will not need to worry about that. However, be aware that this changes if you decide to heat or cook the leaves. There are a few things you are going to want to watch out for before throwing your leafy green cannabis into a juicer, or your pot into a pan.
The first and easiest thing to keep in mind is that the leaves should be properly cleaned. This really shouldn’t be too much of a problem, like they say “a little dirt don’t hurt,” but washing your produce before eating it is just a good, safe practice in general. Gently rinsing the leaves under some water will get rid of any bugs, dirt, or fertilizer residue that might be still on there and will help ensure that you are eating only the leaves and no other little extraneous matter.
Perhaps the biggest thing to look out for when eating raw cannabis leaves is that the leaves have trichomes on them, which can irritate the soft tissue of your throat. Cooking the leaves in some water, or baking them, will help soften them up and maybe lessen the scratchiness one might experience from ingesting weed leaves.
One website states that people who ate raw cannabis got “sick to their stomachs,” however there is no other factual information to validate this claim. My suggestion would be to start off with a small amount in a smoothie or drink. Cooking the leaves may also make them easier to digest, you can throw them in a pan with some coconut oil. Start slow and see how much your body is comfortable with, then slowly increase from there.
How to Obtain Cannabis Leaves
Now that you know all this great information, you may be wanting to run straight out to your nearest dispensary and buy a bag of fresh leaves. However, it isn’t always that simple. Dispensaries don’t often receive trimmings from growers (which may have something to do with the existing regulations) and besides, most growers I have known just compost or throw away all their leaves.
Well, I can offer up a couple of easy suggestions for obtaining and using Cannabis leaves and flower if you are interested in incorporating whole-plant cannabis in your daily routine. The first would be to simply call around to your local dispensaries and just ask if they have any leaves for sale, or if they could get you in contact with a grower who might be able to supply you. A lot of times the growers are just throwing the leaves away, so they might be happy to work something out.
The second option, if you are looking for raw canna leaves, would be to grow your own plants. Of course, check with your state’s regulations on the number of plants you are allowed to grow, but in California, anyone over the age of 21 can cultivate up to six plants per residence. Growing your own plants can be difficult and sometimes costly, but if you are able to master the art of cultivation then you will be able to have a renewable source of cannabis leaves and flower at your disposal.
The internet is chock-full of articles promoting the consumption of raw cannabis leaves and recipes, from smoothies to pizzas, and they are usually discarded, when they could be utilized for the medicinal effects of terpenes and Cannabinoids. Before I started researching for this article, I was skeptical that consuming raw cannabis leaves would be healthy at all; but now I look forward to seeing my next cannabis plant and picking off a leaf to shove into my mouth.