September 28, 2020 // UrbanAroma Staff

How To Make Cannabis Capsules

Cannabis has been used by cultures around the world for thousands of years as an intoxicant, and also as a beneficial medicinal plant that addresses many physical ailment. When it comes to treating certain medical conditions, what easier way could there be to do it than by simply taking a pill?

The simplicity of taking a pill is one reason cannabis capsules are popular. Many people using medicinal cannabis today have discovered that, instead of smoking or vaping weed, taking a cannabis capsule is quick, easy, and effective.

If you use cannabis for medicinal reasons, or just as a way to unwind, you may be wondering how cannabis capsules work. What's inside a weed capsule? Will you get as high as when you smoke or vape? Can you buy them ready-made, or can you make them at home? These are all great questions, and we have the answers for you.

What's Inside Cannabis Capsules?

The ingredients inside cannabis capsules are fairly straightforward. Usually, it's a refined cannabis extract in a neutral oil. While different manufacturers use different types of oil, most rely on medium-chain triglyceride (MCT) oil. This type of oil is formulated for easy absorption and digestion. It's the same oil used in many cannabis tinctures.

If you choose to make cannabis capsules at home, you should know it involves quite a bit of work. It takes a little know-how and patience. The good thing about making them at home is that you always know what's going into them.

Cannabis Capsules vs. Smoking Cannabis

Cannabinoids such as THC and CBD are absorbed almost instantly through the lungs when cannabis is smoked or vaporized. When cannabis capsules are taken, our bodies metabolize cannabinoids through the digestive system and liver. Read our in-depth article How Do Edibles Work? for a thorough explanation of the science.

At a very basic level, smoking works faster, and the effects wear off more quickly than eating cannabis, which takes longer, but also lasts longer. The one thing that will be missing if you use cannabis capsules is the aroma. You won't smell the fresh flower and enjoy the terpenes of the plant like you do when you smoke or vaporize weed.

The longer-lasting effects you get from capsules can make them an excellent choice for those that use cannabis for serious conditions such as anxiety, digestive issues, and especially for pain relief. Cannabis capsules may be a great alternative for those that can't, or do not want to, take opioids. Generally, it will take cannabis capsules up to 90 minutes before you begin to feel anything, and it can last from 5 – 12 hours. This does not necessarily mean you will feel high for that length of time, but it stays in the system almost twice as long as when you smoke cannabis.

Of course, these times are only averages and can vary depending on factors like age, medications you may be taking, what you have eaten recently, and your own personal cannabis experience. If you eat fatty foods or beverages about the same time you take your capsule, it can reduce the time of the onset of effects and increase the duration of effects. This is why it's important to wait at least 3-4 hours before you dose yourself again. Always use caution with dosage when using cannabis capsules because they can be stronger than smoking weed, especially if you are sensitive to THC.

Making Cannabis Capsules At Home

As stated above, you can make your cannabis capsules at home using your own weed, or a cannabis extract that you buy, if it's legal where you live. This recipe is for making them with your own weed. Making cannabis capsules at home can be much less expensive than buying them pre-made. You can use a variety of different oils based on the one you like best, but many people like to use coconut oil because it has many health benefits of its own. It is important to note that you must use coconut oil that will remain liquid at room temperature. The empty capsules you will need can be purchased at a cannabis store if you have one near you, or they can be purchased online, which might be more convenient for some.

Other items you will need to make the capsule making the process easier are a capsule holder or machine and a no-needle syringe. The holder will make it easier to fill many capsules, and the no-needle syringe makes filling them much neater and faster.

What You Will Need For This Recipe:

  • 5.5 grams of cannabis

  • ¼ cup (60ml) extra virgin coconut oil

  • 50 empty “00” size gelatin capsules

  • capsule holder or capsule machine

  • no-needle syringe

  • small slow-cooker or crock-pot

  • small food chopper or weed grinder

  • potato ricer or small metal strainer

  • cheesecloth

  • 2 small microwave-safe containers

  • baking sheet or cookie sheet

  • 2 rubber bands

Step By Step Instructions:

  1. The first and very important step in the process is to decarboxylate the cannabis. Set your oven to 220° F. Line the baking sheet with aluminum foil. Break up or lightly grind the buds of the cannabis so they will cook evenly. Spread the cannabis on the baking sheet. Cook the cannabis in the oven for 1 hour. This step is important because it turns the cannabinoids THCA and CBDA into active THC and CBD. It will make your house stinky, so you may want to open a window or use the vent over your stove if you have one.

  2. Once you have allowed the cannabis to cool, you will need to use the food processor or grinder to turn the weed into powder as much as possible. Using a grinder may only get the weed into very tiny pieces, but make them as small as possible.

  3. Set the crock-pot or slow-cooker on warm and allow it to heat up.

  4. Pour the coconut oil into the crock-pot and mix in the cannabis. Stir it well with a wooden or metal spoon. The cannabis powder should be completely submerged.

  5. Cook the coconut oil and cannabis mixture on warm for 3 hours, remembering to stir it at least once per hour.

  6. While your mixture is cooking, go ahead and set up your capsule holder or capsule machine, if you bought one — it should come with instructions and be fairly easy to set up.

  7. Set up the capsules in the capsule holder. The tops of the capsules need to be removed — you can use one of the plastic microwave-safe containers to hold them. Use the other container to hold the cannabis coconut oil mixture once it's done.

  8. Prepare the second container by placing a doubled layer of the cheesecloth over the top. Secure the cheesecloth in place with a rubber band. The cheesecloth should be about twice the size of the top of the container, so there's excess cloth hanging over the side. This container will be used to strain your cannabis and coconut oil mixture.

  9. Once the mixture is done, allow it to cool for 15 minutes in the crock-pot after you unplug it.

  10. Slowly and carefully spoon the mixture on top of the cheesecloth and allow it to drip through into the bowl. This might take a few minutes for all of the oil to drain through the cheesecloth You can mash it gently with the spoon to help the process along, but not too hard.

  11. Once the mixture has drained as much as it will into the container, gently and carefully remove the rubber band from around the container. Don't allow the cheesecloth to fall into the container.

  12. Make a ball out of the cheesecloth so you can extract as much oil that is left in it as you can into the container. Be careful with this step because the cloth and oil may still be a little bit hot. This is where you can use the potato ricer. If you don't have one, you can use a small wire mesh strainer, like something you would use to strain tea or coffee. Mash the ball down as hard as you can, you don't want to waste any oil. If small particles of the cannabis go through, it's fine. It won't hurt you or the capsules. Dispose of the cheesecloth and excess weed as you wish. (Make sure it stays out of the reach of kids and pets.)

  13. Use the syringe to suck up the liquid mixture to fill each capsule. Don't overfill the capsules. If the syringe stops up, gently squirt it back into the container and try again. Don't force the liquid out into the capsules because it may splatter and waste your oil. It may be slightly tedious finishing this step, but keep in mind how much worth it will be later!

  14. Replace the top of your capsules back over the bottoms that you have just filled up. Make sure the caps snap together snugly. There should be instructions that come with your capsules, but it's not difficult. You just don't want any liquid leaking out of the capsules.

  15. You can store the capsules in the capsule holder in the refrigerator, or place them in a different container to refrigerate them. The color of the capsules will lighten somewhat after they have cooled, if the coconut oil has solidified. Keeping the capsules stored in the refrigerator will ensure they don't get too hot and melt, or be exposed to light too frequently.

It's important to keep in mind that the potency of the cannabis capsules you made will depend on the potency of the cannabis you used to make them. It's also good to remember to give your pills plenty of time to work before you take another one. Since cannabis capsules work more slowly than smoking or vaporizing, you don't want to overdo it. A little patient and careful experimentation should help you find out how often you need to take a capsule and how long its effects should be noticeable for you.