Trying to go green and reduce waste? Get creative with your cannabis stems! If you consume cannabis from a dispensary for medicinal purposes, you’re probably familiar with stems. Generally, patients discard the stems when they’re preparing their dispensary-purchased cannabis to consume. But like many plants, even the “useless” parts of cannabis can be repurposed.
The stems from a cannabis plant are fibrous stalks and contain very minimal amounts of THC. In other words, cannabis stems may produce a very mild effect and you probably won’t feel a strong physical or mental sensation from consuming stems alone. Smoking or vaping cannabis stems may also cause headaches and sore throats. (Plus, the smoke or vapor from cannabis stems won’t taste very good.)
However, if you have time to get creative, stems are a great option for making cannabis teas, cannabutter, topicals, candle wicks, and more! There are hundreds of fun ideas for cannabis stem DIY crafts online, so the next time you find a stem in your dispensary-purchased cannabis you can set it aside until you’ve collected enough to reuse it in one of these ways:
1. Cannabis stem tea
Although the THC content in cannabis stems is very low compared to other parts of the plant, cannabis stem tea is a great way to repurpose your cannabis stems. It has a rich, earthy taste that pairs nicely with lemon, honey, and herbal teas like chamomile. (You can also serve it iced!)
To make cannabis stem tea, start by decarboxylating (or “decarbing”) your leftover stems. Decarboxylation is a process that activates raw cannabis, using heat to increase the potency of the cannabinoids and converting them into a form our bodies can metabolize.
While there are many ways to decarboxylate cannabis stems, the easiest method is to use your home oven. Simply spread the stems evenly on a cookie sheet, preheat your oven to 250 degrees F, then bake the stems for 25-30 minutes. You’ll know the stems are fully decarbed when the color has changed from green to light brown.
After decarboxylation, making cannabis stem tea is simple. Place the stems in a teapot or filter bag, add hot water, and allow the tea to steep for 5-7 minutes (or more for a stronger flavor.)
You can drink cannabis stem tea plain, but if you’re seeking some effect from the stems, you’ll need to add some fat so your body can metabolize it fully. We like a splash of half & half or a drizzle of MCT oil, which also adds a pleasant creaminess to your tea.
2. Cannabis stem butter
Cannabis butter, also known as “cannabutter,” is one of our favorite ways to consume medicinal cannabis. You can add cannabutter to virtually any recipe to make your own DIY edibles.
Cannabutter made with stems is almost identical to butter made using cannabis flowers, but the effects are far less potent. Stem butter is a great option for people who want to avoid the psychoactive or intoxicating effects of cannabis.
To make cannabis stem butter, you’ll need at least ¼ ounces of stems. Begin by following the instructions above to decarboxylate the stems, then grind them in a coffee grinder or food processor. Add the ground stems to a saucepan with butter or coconut oil.
Next, simmer on low for approximately 45 minutes. Make sure to stir the butter to avoid burning. Once the stems are golden brown, remove from heat and pour the cannabutter through a strainer or cheesecloth. Serve immediately or store in an airtight container in your refrigerator.
3. Cannabis stem topicals
While many commercial topicals are available in the medicinal cannabis market, you can save money (and have fun) by making DIY versions at home. Using cannabis stems instead of cannabis flowers will result in topicals that are milder yet still soothing.
While there are numerous videos and recipes, we like to keep it simple. Begin by creating a cannabutter using cannabis stems and coconut oil. Then, combine the cannabis stem-infused coconut oil with olive oil, beeswax, and a few drops of your favorite essential oil. Mix everything to your desired texture, then rub the topical over the affected area. Store leftover topical in a cool, dark place in an airtight container.
You can also create cannabis stem facemasks, lip balms, hair treatments, homemade and more.
4. Cannabis stem candle wicks
Making your own candles is a relaxing, creative activity that also gives you an opportunity to use old cannabis stems by turning them into wicks. To make a wick from cannabis stems, sort your stems by length. Then, strip the stems down to their hemp fibers.
Next, begin twisting the hemp fibers together until you’ve made a string. Coat the string in beeswax. Set it aside until you’re ready to make DIY candles, then use the cannabis stem fibers for your candle wicks.
Don’t forget to upcycle the jars
Repurposing and reusing your cannabis stems is a great way to be more eco-friendly, but don’t forget about your cannabis jars and packaging! While CULTA participates in recycling plastic #5 packaging through The High 5 Initiative, there are other ways you can give your cannabis packaging a second life, including spice storage and as a starter home for new plants and seedlings.
For more ideas, read How to Recycle, Repurpose & Upcycle Your Cannabis Packaging.