As the legal framework surrounding marijuana begins to open up, distributers are offering a host of alternative products to experienced users or those who want the benefits of cannabis without any of the smoke.
Among these products are tinctures, which are alcohol extractions of the active cannabinoids from marijuana plant material. According to Cannabis: A History, tinctures—although new to the majority of consumers—are in fact one of the oldest forms of marijuana products.
Tinctures themselves have been used in medicine for hundreds of years and consist of little more than an herb left to steep in alcohol. They were favoured by medical practitioners for their relatively compact size and powerful concentration as compared to the plant material itself.
A history of tinctures
According to The Politics of Drug Control, cannabis tinctures started to appear in the West in the mid-1800s, when Dr. William Brooke O'Shaughnessy, an Irish physician, brought them over from India. Much like today, they were used as a means to treat a number of ailments, most notably as a pain killer. Tinctures were also often blended with other herbs to change both the flavour and the effects of the medicine.
Thanks to basement apothecaries and the current legalization movement, tinctures are coming back into fashion, despite their disappearance during the prohibition movement in the early half of the 20th century.
How they work
Primarily used as a medical agent, tinctures are especially useful because they contain concentrated amounts of THC and CBD from raw plant material. Like edibles, using marijuana tinctures affects the entire body and can last for several hours. However, because they don't need to go through the normal digestive process, they begin to work in as little as 15 minutes.
Additionally, tinctures are available in a glycerin base, making them an excellent option for those who have adverse reactions to alcohol.
To use tinctures, one of the most common methods is to deliver a dose sublingually, or under the tongue. This method allows your body to absorb the components more quickly. Tinctures can also be added to drinks and foods, in which case their effect will be felt much along the same timeline as with edibles.
The rapid action of sublingual dosage is a boon to patients looking for a quick way to manage their conditions without needing to smoke or inhale. Additionally, because tinctures are delivered by the drop, dosages are easier to control and tailor to individual needs than edibles or other consumption methods.
While they might seem like a good alternative to smoking, tinctures do come with some cons, especially for first-time users. Because the effects take longer to be fully realized than smoking, new users may be tempted to take too much, too quickly. Considering tinctures' high concentration of CBD and THC, an overdose is therefore a real possibility.
Even experienced users may encounter some challenges. Concentrations can vary wildly depending on the initial strain used to create the tincture, especially among homemade products that are unlikely to have dosage information included. Because of this, users should acquire their tinctures from trusted and reliable sources.
It's easy to see why tinctures are making a comeback. They provide quick and easy relief and, for those who can't find them or any concentrate locally, can be made easily at home without the need of dangerous processes. For those concerned about dosage amounts, tinctures can be ordered through licensed producers, with more companies likely to jump on the tincture bandwagon in the near future.
Feature Photo: Alice Carrier