Phytocannabinoids in the Plant
To date, over 113 phytocannabinoids have been identified within the cannabis plant, the only known plant to produce phytocannabinoids in such large amounts. These phytocannabinoids can rarely form with a 3 carbon ring opposed to a 5 carbon ring, making them propyl phytocannabinoids.
THC and CBD are the two most common phytocannabinoids found in decarboxylated cannabis, with all others found in trace amounts of less than 0.1%. However, phytocannabinoid acids are the only phytocannabinoids to be found in carboxylated cannabis, the plant’s raw, unheated state. When heat is applied, the acids are detached from the carboxyl rings (COOH) in a process called decarboxylation, causing the phytocannabinoid acids to become active and transforming into the phytocannabinoids we’re most familiar with; THCa becomes THC, CBDa becomes CBD, and so on.
The efficiency of decarboxylation depends on two primary factors: temperature and time. Decarboxylation begins at 90°C (194°F) and speeds up as the temperature increases. The optimal temperature is 140° – 160°C (284 – 320°F), where full decarboxylation can occur in minutes, compared to hours normally.