THC capsules and pills are fast becoming the go-to way that many people in California, across America and around the world get the relief they need from cannabis.
There are many reasons for this:
For one, you don’t need to smoke or vape to take a pill. Two, they’re easy to consume. You don’t need to know how to smoke, vape or dab properly to take a capsule. Everyone knows how to pop a pill in their mouth.
Thirdly, they’re discreet. No more obvious-smelling smoke or getting out your tincture pipette to place a few drops under your tongue. Those could be any kind of pill or capsule. No-one is going to comment on you taking one.
Finally, the effects of cannabis capsules and pills last for a long time and they tend to be more potent than other methods of consumption. That’s a big draw for many medical marijuana patients.
But before you start popping THC capsules everywhere, it’s a good idea to know just a little bit more about what marijuana pills are and how they work. This will help you figure out if they might be the best solution for you.
What is THC?
THC stands for tetrahydrocannabinol. Best known as the psychoactive ingredient in cannabis, THC is one of 113 different cannabinoids – a type of organic compound – found in the cannabis plant.
When you take in cannabis, various cannabinoids – including THC and the other best-known example, CBD – interact with your body’s endocannabinoid system. This is responsible for the various effects which marijuana can have, such as stimulating appetite or reducing pain, inflammation and nausea.
For the purposes of understanding the differences between certain THC pills and capsules, it’s important to note one thing here. In the marijuana plant, THC actually exists as THCA (tetrahydrocannabinolic acid). THCA is not psychoactive.
To activate it (and turn it into actual THC), heat is needed as part of a process called decarboxylation. That’s why so many ways to take cannabis involve heat – think: smoking, vaping, dabbing – or have involved heat at some point in the process – think: drying, curing.
Without heat, without decarboxylation, there isn’t very much THC in cannabis.
What are THC pills?
Most cannabis pills are THC oil capsules. Or, to be more accurate, THC gel capsules.
They consist of a cannabis extract inside a gelatin capsule. The extract is usually suspended in some sort of fatty oil to speed up your body’s absorption process. For example, THC coconut oil capsules.
That sounds simple enough. But there is some confusion created by the existence of several synthetic alternatives – chiefly dronabinol and Marinol.
These synthetic THC versions include none of the other beneficial cannabinoids found in more natural pills. Many more natural pills are made using full-spectrum materials. That is to say, the entire cannabis plant goes into making them.
What are cannabis capsules made from?
As described above, cannabis capsules consist of a cannabis extract situated in a gelatin sheathe for easy ingestion.
There can be important differences in the cannabis extract itself as well as the format it comes in:
1) Cannabis extract format
The cannabis extract inside a pill usually comes in one of three formats:
- Cannabis distillate – distillate usually contains decarboxylated cannabinoids and will usually work in the same way as ingesting edibles. As the cannabinoids inside are decarboxylated, if you have a full-spectrum or THC pill, they are likely to have a psychoactive effect. They are also likely to retain some or most of the other beneficial compounds found in the original cannabis plant, or have them reintroduced later as part of the production process.
- Crystalline – crystalline consists of a chosen set of cannabinoids reduced to a fine powder. Usually, crystalline is not decarboxylated, meaning these pills will not get you “high”. They tend to be focused on single cannabinoids, such as THC or CBD. Or rather, their non-decarboxylated versions, THCA and CBDA.
- Ground decarboxylated flower – the simplest way to make cannabis pills – and the way some people choose to make them at home – is to grind up decarboxylated cannabis flower.
2) The main ingredient
The format of the extract may change depending on what is actually being extracted from the cannabis plant. This will be either:
- One chosen cannabinoid – as you might expect, many “THC pills” will only contain THC and most “CBD pills” only CBD. It’s important to always read the label so you know what you’re getting. The downside of these pills is that they don’t include any of the other beneficial compounds found in the cannabis plant.
- Several cannabinoids – pills which contain several cannabinoids are often a good idea if you’re seeking a balance between relief and psychoactive effect as different levels of CBD can alter the potency of certain levels of THC.
- Full-spectrum – sometimes referred to as “full plant” or “whole plant” pills, the full spectrum variety contains an extract made using all of the components of the cannabis plant. These are often seen as the best THC capsules in California, or anywhere marijuana pills are being sold. That’s because they contain all of the terpenes, cannabinoids and other compounds found in the original plant. On top of the intrinsic benefits, this means they can also deliver the Entourage Effect – the name given to the way in which the different parts of the cannabis plant act together to enhance their overall effect.
3) Nutraceutical oils
Nutraceuticals are foods which contain healthy additives. Good examples are things like turmeric, Valerian root and ginkgo root – and you’ll find these three and many more in many types of marijuana pills.
Some extra nutraceutical oils can lend pills a more sedative or more energizing effect, so it’s important to always read the label. Especially if you’re looking to create or avoid a certain effect.
How do THC capsules and pills work?
Marijuana pills and capsules work in much the same way as edibles:
- You swallow your pills.
- They pass through your digestive tract and the extract inside is absorbed along the way.
- When it reaches your liver, the cannabinoids are metabolized.
- Eventually, the metabolized contents of the pills reach your blood stream.
This process can take anywhere from 30 minutes to two hours to complete. The big variation in time here is down to your own metabolism, as well as other factors which affect your tolerance for the cannabinoids in question. This might mean your level of body fat or gender.
You can also get time-release capsules (as opposed to the standard “immediate release” capsules described above). Time-release capsules have shells or sheathes which are made from inert or tougher ingredients designed to make it more difficult for your stomach to break down the pills. This means the effects will become noticeable more slowly and often last for a longer period of time.
Why do some people prefer cannabis pills?
Cannabis pills are the preferred method of ingestion for many medical marijuana patients. This is most often because marijuana capsules are:
- Safer than smoking – many patients don’t like the idea of smoking or vaping, especially when they’re taking the pills because they’re ill in the first place. Using a method of ingestion which, while enjoyable and relaxing, might actually lead to other illnesses later down the line, sometimes isn’t very attractive.
- Subtle and discreet – without the rather obvious smell of cannabis smoke and resembling almost any other pill on the market, cannabis pills and capsules are completely discreet. Depending on the main extract in your pill – you wouldn’t want to take a THC pill when you knew you were going to be driving a vehicle later, for example – they are safe to consume almost anywhere.
- Require no knowledge – taking a cannabis pill is as simple as taking any other. You don’t need to know how to assemble a dabbing rig or how to roll or how to use a tincture. Simply pop the pill in your mouth and you’re done.
- Precise dosing – with some methods of ingesting cannabis, it can be difficult to tell precisely how much you’re taking. When you want to consume marijuana sensibly or to achieve specific levels of relief, this can be something of a problem. Capsules, however, have specific quantities of cannabinoids inside. This makes measuring the dose you take simple and straightforward.
- Can provide longer-term relief – while smoking or vaping might be faster-acting, the relief they provide tends to fade away sooner too. The effects of pills might take longer to be noticeable. But once they arrive, they stick around for longer. Some people like to take CBD or THC capsules in combination with smoking or vaping to combine the faster-acting and longer-lasting effects.
- Healthier than other edibles – while gummies and other edibles are often very tasty and enjoyable to consume, they often contain sugar or added fats which might not be desirable for diabetics or anyone watching their weight. When the only added ingredients – found only in some cannabis capsules or pills – are likely to be root extracts and other things which are generally beneficial for you, that’s another point in their favor.
THC capsules – dosage
When it comes to THC capsules, in particular, one of the most important things to establish is the correct level of dose for you.
This will depend on your previous experience with and tolerance to THC, as well as your level of body fat – important because THC is a fat-soluble molecule – and several other factors.
As we’ve seen above, high-quality THC capsules come with clearly-labeled dosage information on the side of the packet. This makes it easy to know precisely how much you’re taking and achieve the correct level of relief you need.
You can get THC capsules in all kinds of sizes, including:
- 2mg (This is of a size which is sometimes referred to as a “microdose”, it being smaller than the standard recommended dosage even for a newcomer to THC. These can be a good idea if you have never tried THC before and want to make sure you’re staying well on top of the effects.)
- 5mg (This is sometimes suggested as a recommended dose for someone without much experience of THC.)
- 100mg (This is a hefty pill, only suitable for those with an incredibly high tolerance and almost certainly rarely a good idea for most cases.)
Marijuana pills – the downsides
Of course, cannabis pills aren’t perfect. To overcome the downsides, it’s important that you do a few things when you’re buying or using CBD or THC capsules:
- Always check the quality – always be sure to buy from a reputable producer. For example, K.I.N.D. Concentrates produces pills from All-American cannabis grown using natural, organic methods. You can see precisely how much high-quality extract is in each pill and you will know exactly what it’s made from and where it came from. This isn’t always the case with THC pills you buy online or from non-reputable providers. Always use a licensed dispensary.
- Look around for the right product – even in states where medical marijuana is legal, high-quality THC capsules can be tricky to find. Have a good look round before you conclude that a low-quality option is your only choice.
- Remember they last longer and are more potent – the price of a bottle of THC pills can initially turn some people away. But it’s important to remember that you’re getting relief which lasts longer and which is more powerful than many other alternatives. Essentially, you might be spending a little more. But you’re getting more bang for your buck.
- Combine THC capsules with other modes for all-round effect – the amount of time it can take for the effects of capsules to become noticeable can be anywhere from 30 minutes to two hours. When you need some relief fast, that’s not an appealing timeframe. That’s why so many people have their longer-lasting, potent capsules to take in addition to a vape, tincture or some other way of getting faster-acting relief. This way they get all of the advantages of the best THC capsules while overcoming one of the few downsides.