You've probably heard about the latest craze in cannabis: CBD or cannabidiol. But what about raw cannabis? Raw cannabis clearly differs from both the cannabinoids tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) and CBD. While all three are from the Cannabis sativa plant, they each have their own unique characteristics that have different effects on the human body.

So what exactly is raw cannabis? Simply put, it is non-heated or "non-activated" cannabis. This means that it has not gone through a process called decarboxylation, which is actually just a nice way to determine that the compound has undergone a chemical process due to heating over time.

Raw cannabis not only contains fiber, calcium and iron, but also contains more than 100 cannabinoids. It contains both the raw counterparts of THC and CBD, tetrahydrocannabinolic acid (THCA) and cannabidiol acid (CBDA). But because these compounds are inactivated or unheated, raw cannabis is not psychoactive. It should be noted that although the decarboxylation or activation process does require heat, this can also happen due to exposure to sunlight or even storage at room temperature for extended periods of time. The amount of THCA or CBDA that is converted by activation largely depends on the heat process used and the duration.

Raw cannabis and CBD, both of which originate in the hemp plant, are not classified as Schedule I substances such as marijuana. The Farm Bill 2018, which postponed hemp and its derivatives (with a THC content of no more than 0.3% on a dry weight basis) as a Schedule I drug and authorized legal hemp farming in the US, has made raw cannabis and CBD legal in the US (Editor's Note: Opinions still differ on the current legal status of CBD and raw cannabis in consumer products. FDA has stated that CBD is currently not permitted in food supplements and food.)

Why incorporate raw cannabis?

Raw plants generally retain more of their nutrients as opposed to their cooked counterparts. The same concept also applies to raw cannabis, even beyond the benefits of the cannabinoids.

Cannabis is a powerhouse of a plant and in its raw form is actually one of the most nutritious food sources on our planet. It has nutritious compounds such as omega fatty acids, minerals such as calcium and iron, and an abundance of vitamins, including vitamins A, B1, B2, C and E. Raw cannabis also has complete proteins, meaning that the proteins in cannabis take care of all essential forms of amino acids.

This does not necessarily mean that you would want that whole replace CBD (which is heated) with CDBA in your diet. While certain nutrients are destroyed by heat and better absorbed by raw plants, other enzymes are more biologically available through their cooked counterparts.

In short, it's all about balance.

Where is raw cannabis extracted?

Raw cannabis can be hard to come by. The easiest way to find it is to grow yourself, which unfortunately is not an option for everyone. A tip: making sure that the plant does not dry out helps to maximize the raw cannabis benefits. It must be checked under national and local legislation whether a home-grown cannabis project is legal according to the applicable regulations. Another option is to search for CBD products that contain raw cannabinoids. As the legal landscape of cannabis shifts, it should become easier for people nationwide to include raw cannabis in their daily diet.

How is raw cannabis used?

Juicing is one of the most common ways that people choose to include raw cannabis in their diet. You have to choose a chewed or cold-pressed juicer to ensure that the cannabis stays raw. Masticating juicers use a slow pressing and pressing process to extract juice from the raw plant. Unlike centrifugal juicers, chewing juicers do not produce heat, eliminating the chance of converting raw cannabinoids into their activated counterparts during the preparation process.

Another way to incorporate raw cannabis is through green smoothies and salads. It is easy to throw in the blender with your favorite green smoothie recipe, or as an extra topping on your salad. For example, you could sprinkle raw cannabis garnish or sprinkle a full hemp extract oil with CBDA on top of a vegetarian mix.

Olivia Snider is a writer at Bluebird Botanicals. Bluebird Botanicals sells one Hemp Complete CBD oil with full spectrum, which contains CBDA.

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