The first time I heard about cannabis tinctures was while pregaming for an off-campus fraternity party during my first semester of college.
My friend “Green Dragon” — a far more experienced sophomore, with an entire year of undergraduate experience on me — talked excitedly about the concept of concentrating and extracting cannabis flower and leaves in high-proof alcohol as he held a bottle of Everclear, with pieces of green goodness floating around the bottom. He’d said he made the concoction himself, and I was totally flabbergasted by the idea of consuming two of my favorite things at the same time.
He poured the slightest amount into the shot glasses my other friend and I were clutching. My friend slurped the itty bit down while I raised my eyebrow. “Really? That’s it?” I snarked. Green Dragon insisted the dose he had given us was just enough to make us feel wasted.
It turned out that he was right. That tiny smidge got me good enough to indulge, yet also allowed me to wake up the next morning in time for an 8 a.m. class.
And I know Everclear has a certain reputation and that I typically want to throw up after taking a shot of straight alcohol — because of how much it burns and all — but the taste of this micro-shot was extremely bitter and left a particularly strong aftertaste that even I wasn’t prepared for. (So don’t say I didn’t warn you.)
But I got lucky. Dosing tincture isn’t easy. And not all tinctures are created equal. Some renditions of green dragon, as it’s commonly known, can be a lot more swampy and dark than the one I tried the first time around.
However, rather than taking the alcohol route as the base for your tincture, you can also find (or make at home) glycerin-based tincture for sublingual (i.e., under-the-tongue) consumption. This is oftentimes the preferred option for folks wanting to consume for medicinal purposes.
Additionally, a glycerin-based tincture is multi-purpose and can be consumed through the nasal passage or as a lubricant.
As with edibles and drinkables, finding your right dose requires patience, lots of trial and error, taking into account different variables like how much (or how little) you’ve eaten, and how much CBD or THC is already in your system.
One way to start cautiously with sublingual dosing is by not swallowing the oil quickly. Once you drop however much tincture under your tongue, let the solution sit and absorb. Use a timer and experiment with different absorption times: 10 seconds, 20 seconds, 30 second — you get the picture.
Similarly to other cannabis products you eat or drink, with tinctures it can take a bit for the outcome of the cannabis to kick in. Some say it takes half an hour to an hour, depending on your digestive system and metabolism. The effects typically last from two to three hours, depending on how potent the mixture is.
Another great way to figure out the right dosage is by creating the alcohol- or glycerin-based tincture yourself, right at home in your kitchen. That way, you’re in control of how much cannabis — or how little — is added to the mixture. Just be prepared to wait at least 20 hours for the mixture to cook.
How To Make Green Dragon Tincture At Home
- Clear grain alcohol such as Everclear, although vodka and vegetable glycerine will also work.
- Cannabis flowers or leaves, about 1 ounce, broken up into smaller pieces
You will need:
- A Mason jar
- Mesh strainer or cheesecloth
- Tincture bottles with stoppers
- Coffee grinder
- First, decarboxylate your cannabis by preheating the oven to 240° F, placing the weed on a baking tray, and toasting for 30–40 minutes, stirring every 10 minutes so that it bakes evenly.
- Remove from oven and allow cannabis to cool.
- Next, grind the cannabis using the coffee grinder, until the bud and trimmed leaves are a fine powder.
- Place ground-up weed in the Mason jar.
- Pour enough alcohol into the jar so that the powdered weed is fully immersed.
- Seal the jar tight to allow no flavor to escape during the extraction process.
- Set timer for about three minutes and start agitating the jar by vigorously shaking it. This will help the cannabis to infuse with the alcohol and soak up the flavor.
- After three minutes of shaking the jar, store in a cool, dark place and continue to shake mixture every couple of days as it steeps for at least two weeks (and as long as 12 months).
- During this time, test your tincture periodically for desired outcome.
- Once you’re satisfied, strain the mixture and pour into tincture bottles, taking care to use the funnel so as to avoid wasteful spillages.
Alternatively, you can make a quicker version of this recipe by heating the Mason jar in a crockpot and burping it over a period of up to 20 hours. This version will be less potent than the long-steep method, but if you’re impatient, it’s a perfectly adequate alternative to waiting months to chase that green dragon.