Cannabis capsules are marijuana in pill form. They can contain many forms of cannabis, including oil and decarboxylated flower. They can contain single cannabinoids or the full spectrum of compounds the source cannabis plant has to offer. Typically, cannabis capsules are labeled by their cannabinoid contents, such as THC capsules and CBD capsules, for example. Compared to other cannabis products and consumption methods like vaping or smoking cannabis, capsules are easy to dose and consume. Medical marijuana patients sometimes opt for pills because they can provide a potent dose with long-lasting effects.
How capsules interact with your body
Immediate-release capsules work identically to edibles. Cannabinoids enter your body through your mouth and get absorbed by your stomach. In the case of THC pills, your liver then metabolizes THC into a compound called 11-hydroxy-THC, which can last longer and have a more sedating effect than THC.
Time-release capsules follow the same route of digestion and metabolization, but the effects may be delayed or drawn out. Capsule shells engineered with liposomes and drug-polymer conjugates — like hydrogels — allow for the timed release of their contents. These protective and inert ingredients neutralize stomach acid for slower release of THC or CBD into the bloodstream.
How to take CBD and THC pills
If you've tried cannabis edibles, then you already have a solid understanding of the experience you can expect from THC pills. If you're new to both of these cannabis products, know that every individual's liver metabolizes compounds differently, which is why edibles and THC pills can produce different effects in different people. The effects of THC pills can range from sleep-inducing and pain-relieving to focused and euphoric, depending on the capsule's ingredients. The entire experience can last anywhere from 45 minutes to several hours, depending on the individual and the potency of the THC pills.
Meanwhile, CBD pills may cause only the slightest shift in consciousness or a wave of pain relief, depending on the dose and other ingredients. Finding the right dose and cannabinoid profile for you takes some trial and error, so start with 5 milligrams (mg) of THC or less and wait at least two hours before taking more. If you're trying CBD capsules for the first time, start with 25mg of CBD or less.
Types of CBD and THC pills
There are many types of marijuana capsules to choose from. Here are the common terms you'll find on capsule packaging and what they mean:
Ground, decarboxylated flower. Decarboxylation is the process of heating cannabis flower to activate certain cannabinoids. Cannabis flower requires decarboxylation to turn non-intoxicating THCA into intoxicating THC or inactive CBDA into active CBD. Ingesting decarboxylated weed in capsule form allows you to experience the entourage effect without having to smoke weed.
Crystalline. Crystalline is a powdered substance that resembles table salt or sugar. Crystalline capsules contain nearly 100% pure powdered cannabinoids, often in THCA or CBDA-only formulas that allow medical patients to ingest weed without the intoxicating effects associated with THC. The extraction process used to create crystalline essentially strips cannabis of terpenes, minor cannabinoids, and plant matter, leaving behind only the desired molecule.
Distillate. Distillate is a runny liquid that is similar to crystalline in that a distillation process is used to produce it. Its purity can run anywhere from 85% to 95% of one cannabinoid — typically CBD or THC — and the cannabis plant's terpenes are sometimes reintroduced into the final product. Distillate's cannabinoids are decarboxylated and capable of providing consumers with some of the intoxicating effects associated with inhaling weed smoke or ingesting edibles containing THC. THC pills made with distillate typically contain just that — THC and no other compounds or terpenes.
CBD:THC. Capsules containing ratios of THC and CBD work to enhance potential medicinal effects and modulate intoxicating effects to meet patients' individual needs. CBD-infused capsules can potentially deliver relief while mitigating THC's potentially adverse side effects, making the medication more tolerable to new or sensitive patients.
Full-spectrum. Cannabis capsules labeled as full-spectrum include all of the cannabis plant's available molecules — terpenes, cannabinoids, and everything in between. Full-spectrum cannabis capsules can contain decarboxylated flower or infused oil bases, and allow patients to feel the effects of weed without any additives.
Broad-spectrum. Similar to full-spectrum, broad-spectrum products have retained most, if not all, the beneficial compounds from the source plants. The key difference is that broad-spectrum products typically refer to CBD products that have been refined to remove all traces of THC.
How to make cannabis capsules
Homemade CBD or THC pills start with infused cannabis oil or decarboxylated cannabis flower. Those with sensitive stomachs should stick to oil.
THC pills with cannabis oil
When creating cannabis oil capsules, you could go the entirely DIY route and infuse coconut oil or olive oil yourself.
- Preheat your oven to 220 degrees Fahrenheit.
- Grind your raw weed.
- Line a baking sheet with parchment paper and spread the ground flower on top.
- Bake the flower for 30 minutes.
- Add the baked weed to a simmering pot of coconut or olive oil and simmer for an hour or more.
- Let the mixture cool then use a dropper to fill empty gelatin capsule shells with the cannabis-infused oil.
You can speed up the process by buying a cannabis oil tincture and filling empty capsules with your dose of choice.
THC pills with decarboxylated flower
To make flower-filled THC capsules, simply decarboxylate your flower following the steps described above. Instead of infusing the flower in oil, fill capsule shells with the flower using tweezers or a capsule filling machine. If you use a machine, just follow the manufacturer's instructions.
How to make CBD capsules
You can make full-spectrum CBD capsules simply by swapping out cannabis flower with high-CBD hemp flower and following the instructions above. You can also fill empty capsule shells with CBD distillate if you're looking to make pills completely devoid of THC.
Frequently asked questions
What are capsule shells made out of?
Most capsule shells fall into one of three categories: gelatin, hypromellose, and pullulan. Gelatin capsules are made from beef by-products, while vegetarian options hypromellose and pullulan are made from non-toxic plant derivatives and fungal fermentation, respectively.
How much do THC pills cost?
Like most cannabis products, the final cost for THC pills depends on a variety of factors including availability, potency, quality, and local taxes. In California, for example, a bottle of 20 THC pills with 100 mg THC per pill can cost upwards of $150, while lower-potency pills in the 25-mg range may only set you back $30. To make sure you get what you pay for, only buy CBD or THC capsules from legal, licensed dispensaries and request the certificate of analysis for detailed lab results.